Chayka hoping to give Coyotes fans ‘a year that they deserve’
Although the Arizona Coyotes are not looking to carry Valley sports pride, they seem to have one of the more optimistic outlooks of any Valley sports team.
“We feel good about our team this year and where were headed,” Arizona GM John Chayka said on the Doug & Wolf Show on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “So not looking to carry anything, but certainly looking to give our fans a good year that they deserve.”
The Coyotes were recently voted to make the playoffs by TSN’s anonymous poll of 33 NHL players. A playoff appearance in 2019 would be the first for the franchise since 2014.
Chayka knows that all the hype and expectations don’t necessarily translate to results.
“First of all, it’s always good when you get some recognition. Obviously, the players that go on those media tours are smart guys that know the game well. At the same time, polls don’t give us extra points,” Chayka said.
“There’s a great deal of parity in the league going on right now. It’s going to be a fun year for us. I think it’s going to be an enjoyable year of growth. I think we’re going to be in the mix and it will be up to these guys to see how far they can take us.”
One new face that is expected to play a big role in taking the Coyotes to the next level is Alex Galchenyuk.
“Offensively he’s an elite talent,” Chayka said. “Last night, you see him on a one-timer and (he) just blows it by a goalie. If you have that weapon on your power play, it just changes that whole dynamic.”
Defensively, Chayka believes that newly-named captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson has what it takes to bring leadership to a young, developing hockey team.
“As we are looking long term here and try to make a decision of where we want to go with things, you have to pick cornerstone pieces and Oliver is that guy for us. So we really believe in him as a person and a player,” Chayka said.