The Times podcast: Coyotes go urban; humans freak out
On Tuesday, the Coyotes’ game against the Edmonton Oilers at Gila River Arena had a unique twist as the team’s hockey ops department was in charge of the ceremonial face-off.
The team hired a company to come aboard their team bus, which had been designed to transport athletes and fans. Now, the team had an actual human behind the wheel, giving Coyotes players and fans the chance to experience an in-game version of the “Olympic Games” with a professional driver.
They put on a little show, as you’re about to find out.
The Arizona Coyotes’ annual “Coyotes” Day at Gila River Arena on March 16, 2017. (Eric Adelson)
To say the least, it wasn’t pretty and the entire day was a disaster, but it did give us the opportunity to talk with five people who are intimately involved with the Coyotes — including president of hockey operations Don Maloney and assistant general manager Rick Tocchet.
All of us agreed that something was amiss at the beginning of the game. We didn’t know what it was, just that something was amiss. But a great many people on the team are professionals and have lots of experience in dealing with adversity.
The Coyotes began the game against the Oilers, who are ranked No. 1 in the NHL, with an unusual lineup.
The Oilers’ current line, with Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, has been together for three years. Their line is built to protect a goal, with Nugent-Hopkins as the puck-moving center, McDavid as an excellent playmaker and Nugent-Hopkins, an offensive force who can control the pace of the game as the third forward.
Nugent-Hopkins was a little early on the ice, so McDavid was the first in the game. That’s when things began to go wrong. Within