With their financial issues finally settled for now, the Phoenix Coyotes head into the 2013-2014 season with just a few changes from last season. They’ll face the Buffalo Sabres twice this coming season, marking the first time that the teams will meet since November 2011.
Last time the Sabres and Coyotes met was November 19, 2011 in Buffalo. Do you remember that game? Well – I do. Paul Bissonnette scored the game-winning goal for the Coyotes as they eventually prevailed, 4-2. Shane Doan and Radim Vrbata (2) also scored Phoenix, with Buffalo’s goals coming from Luke Adam and Patrick Kaleta. Jhonas Enroth stopped 25 of 28 shots faced in the loss.
The last time the teams met in Phoenix? Look even further back for that one. January 8, 2011, when the Sabres came out on top, 2-1 in overtime. For those of you keeping track: of 18 skaters who played for Buffalo in that game, only six are still with the organization today. (Those would be Cody McCormick, Drew Stafford, Thomas Vanek, Tyler Myers, Tyler Ennis and Luke Adam.)
A handful of players set to be on the Buffalo Sabres roster for the upcoming season have no NHL experience facing the Phoenix Coyotes so far. Names on that list include Mike Weber, Marcus Foligno, Brian Flynn, Mikhail Grigorenko, Mark Pysyk and Chad Ruhwedel. Look for them to make their debuts against Phoenix in December.
Through free agency, the Coyotes added former Sabres forward – and oft-bounced around player – Tim Kennedy. Since leaving the Sabres organization, Kennedy has played in the NHL with the Florida Panthers and San Jose Sharks, and spent time in the AHL with the Hartford Wolf Pack/CT Whale, Rochester Americans, San Antonio Rampage and Worcester Sharks. The Coyotes also signed Mike Ribeiro to a four-year deal. Ribeiro joins the Coyotes after spending last season with the Washington Capitals, where he had 13 goals and 36 assists for 49 points in 48 games.
Of course, the big story with the Phoenix Coyotes is… well, the fact that they’re still around! The team had issues beginning back in 2008, when the media became aware that the team was losing money. In 2009, team owner Jerry Moyes put the team into bankruptcy. After a few selling attempts that went sour – all the while keeping the team in Glendale – Reinaissance Sports & Entertainment eventually came to a deal to purchase the team for $225 million in July 2013. The team will eventually be renamed the Arizona Coyotes, but not for the upcoming season. Their rocky, uncertain situation the past few years has undoubtedly put a damper on things, but now that things have settled at least for the time being, the organization can focus on hockey again this season.
Players to Watch
- PHOENIX: Watch out for Keith Yandle, who led the Coyotes with 30 points (10-20) in 48 games last season. Radim Vrbata had 28 points (12-16) while captain Shane Doan scored 13 goals and 14 assists for 27 points in 48 games. Doan tied with center Antoine Vermette for the team lead in goals, while Oliver Ekman-Larsson led the Coyotes with 21 assists.
- BUFFALO: Although there are several players on the Sabres’ roster who have never faced the Phoenix Coyotes, there are a handful who have – and with good results. Defenseman Tyler Myers has three points in four games against Phoenix, and Thomas Vanek has seven points in eight games. Cody Hodgson has a pair of points in a trio of meetings with the Coyotes, while Drew Stafford has five points in seven career NHL games against Phoenix.
Meetings This Season
- December 23 @ BUF
- January 30 @ PHX