Potential is a nasty little word for a sports team.
It can mean that a team is on the -up-and-up, headed for playoff, and possibly championship, glory. It can also be used in a sense of confusion by fans when they wonder why a team with so much potential can fail.
But potential was the biggest word for the Green Bay Packers before their first Super Bowl win in 14 years and potential is now the most significant word in the Coyotes extensive vocabulary on being a mediocre team.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying the Packers are a mediocre team now. Aaron Rogers whooped my butt in fantasy last week and the team looks set for another playoff season, but the Packers have had their good and bad streaks, much like the Phoenix Coyotes.
The current Coyotes team are reminiscent of the Packers in the 1980s and 90s who had a 10-year gap in playoff appearances and rose slowly to prominence over time. The 2009 Coyotes came off a six-year absence from the postseason and the team has made two straight playoff appearances since then.
Both teams have seen the departing of key figures from the organization that were believed to be negative at first glance, but over time became a very positive thing. I speak, of course, of Brett Favre and Wayne Gretzky departing from their respective teams. When Favre left, people said Rogers couldn't do it. When Gretzky left, people said the Coyotes were done for and would be moved. In 2011, here we are. Rogers is an absolute beast and the Coyotes are thriving --sort of -- without the presence of the Great One.
The Coyotes are not the Packers, not yet. The Packers have grabbed a few rings and are a powerhouse in the NFL, whereas the Coyotes are still a fringe playoff team without an owner or a large fan base. At least they play on a surface similar to that of Lambeau Field -- it's probably warmer, too. But the potential for the Coyotes to become the next great NHL franchise is there.
The team needs an owner. I'm not going down that drivel-filled road. It's a tired and beat-up story that wears fans thin (kind of like Brett Favre's 4,378 retirement claims). The team is chock-full of decent players, but needs one or two guys in to bring that star-powered wow factor for bubble fans. The coaching is already there in Dave Tippett. Add in an already determined squad, and the Coyotes can be the next Packers.
EDITOR'S NOTE: "Off the Ice" is a new portion of ArizonaSports.com where Carter Nacke will be covering and discussing the Phoenix Coyotes throughout the season. While the page is under construction, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him at @carternacke or follow the blog's twitter feed at @OfftheIce620. Thanks for reading.