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Coyotes trade players (or playoffs?)

So, where are the Phoenix Coyotes going next?

If we’re talking zip code, then we don’t have a clue. But if we’re talking whether the Coyotes are going to the postseason? How can you not say — “no way.” Right?

And that’s not us talking. That’s what the recent roster moves say to everyone, including the Coyotes dressing room.

Two points away from a playoff spot with a dozen games to play and the front office trades it away? How can that not be our takeaway when it comes to the trio of trades made before the deadline on Wednesday?

Gone are veterans Raffi Torres, Steve Sullivan and Matthew Lombardi. Coming back in return to help fuel a season ending run would be…uh, wait, hang on, gimme a moment. Oh, here we go: a minor league player and future draft picks. #AlrightyThen

What happened to the immediate future? And, for once, we’re not talking about the Coyotes existence or staying power in Arizona (although that’s coming in a moment).

Instead, we’re talking about the playoff push. Well, truth be told, we would have until the team brass decided to push the eject button.

“This is not surrendering the white flag,” Coyotes assistant general manager Brad Treliving said in the absence of GM Don Maloney, who was unavailable due to a death in the family. “This is doing what we have to do from a management level to maximize the assets we need to maximize and give opportunities to people we think deserve opportunities.”

Look, it’s not like somebody needs to take our car keys. We’re perfectly sober. Ask us if the postseason should be considered a long shot? Yes, most likely. Especially since the Coyotes are missing the key cog from last year’s squad that made the miraculous run to the Western Conference Finals — goalie Mike Smith (injury).

But, hang on. That’s the Coyotes DNA. Virtually everything is a long shot when it comes to the outfit that still lives by its 2012 marketing mantra “Hockey the Hard Way.”

And considering everything that Coyotes fans have endured, don’t the suits in the Coyotes front office owe fans a similar devotion? Heck, the front half of the season already got buzz-sawed by the NHL lockout. After yesterday, it now appears that the back end of the season will be trimmed by the lack of a complete commitment.

Actually, you know what? Forget the fans for a moment. What about the Coyotes players? And we’re not talking about the three players who just got traded. Fact is, all three veterans (Torres, Lombardi, Sullivan) are set to become unrestricted free agents after the season. So, if you want to list ’em on eBay, go right ahead.

“Where we are at now, with our ability to sign these players going forward and into next year, we felt it was prudent to see what kind of assets we could recoup,” Treliving said.

Gotcha. But if you’re going to hit the subtract button on the calculator, then you have to follow up by punching the button with the plus sign on it. You must add something or, in this case, someone to the mix. Otherwise, what message, or lack thereof, do you send to your own locker room? (“Yeah, uh, boys, the standings may say we’re close to the playoffs…but, yeah, we didn’t really believe this squad was capable…so instead of putting on the foil, just take it off.”)

And, yes, we realize the Coyotes are handcuffed by the ownership dynamic (read: 29 other owners crowding the Coyotes kitchen).

Comprendo. But, with the clock (almost assuredly) ticking on the NHL in the A-Z, it still would’ve been nice to see the Coyotes leave behind a different final impression.

Remember — a WhiteOut always beats a white flag.

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