It’s got to be strange when your place of business shuts down for about two weeks.
But that’s what’s facing the Phoenix Coyotes and the rest of the National Hockey League. There is a 16-day gap in the schedule due to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and according to Coyotes captain Shane Doan, that’s not a bad thing.
“I’m viewing it as a positive,” Doan told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday. “For me personally, I’m viewing it as a positive. Maybe Antoine Vermette, he may not be wanting to take a break right now, but for most of us, it’s going to be a reset and a chance to get revamped and ready to go for the last two months.”
Vermette has been one of the few bright spots in a dark stretch for the Coyotes, which has seen them go 6-10-1 since Jan. 1. Vermette has scored eight of his team-leading 21 goals in his last eight games.
Phoenix, who has two games before the Olympic break — Friday vs. Chicago and Saturday at Dallas — currently sits in ninth place in the Western Conference playoff picture. The recent lack of success has led some to think general manager Don Maloney needs to wheel and deal before the March 5 trade deadline. Doan isn’t necessarily on board with that school of thought.
“I’m not a big fan of bringing in anybody or taking out anybody,” he said. “I think that the group could always be better.
“Obviously, as a player, you know that’s going to happen if we don’t start to play better as a group, that the group could change. But as a player, I’m always going to be on the players’ side and think that we can do it ourselves. That we can figure it out.”
Not every member of the Coyotes will get a two-week respite from the rigors of hockey. Goalie Mike Smith (Canada), defenseman Zybnek Michalek and forward Martin Hanzal (Czech Republic), forward Lauri Korpikoski (Finland) and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Sweden) will represent their respective countries in the 12-team tournament which begins Wednesday.
Following the Olympics, the Coyotes will resume their regular-season schedule Feb. 27 at Winnipeg.