Having locked in at one of the bottom two teams in league standings, the Arizona Coyotes went into the last game of their season with a win in mind, but ultimately were not able to keep themselves in it. A lone goal by Sam Gagner got them on the board, but the Anaheim Ducks ended up on top 2-1.
“I mean every year when the season ends it’s hard. You understand that, yeah, for the most part there’s obviously going to be groups of people that you’re probably an going to see again. You just want to take the opportunity to thank them ,” said Captain Shane Doan. “Playing with somebody means a lot, I think it’s pretty special whenever you get to play hockey with someone. It’s fun, especially in the NHL. It’s something you don’t forget.”
Pack Pride Night
With the season turning out how it did, there was definitely something good in the organization and that was the fans. The Coyotes honored their fans with Pack Pride Night. All 15,733 fans were loud and proud cheering on their desert dogs. The fans have stuck by their team through the rough losses and exhilarating wins, but through it all they’ve stuck with them.
“It was great to see so many fans out there. They have been here for us all year so we really appreciate that,” Oliver Ekman-Larsson had to say about the fans. “Hopefully we can turn it around for next year. Give them something better than this year.”
The ‘Yotes really added a special touch to their final game of the season, having the fans sing the anthem and a tear-jerking ceremonial puck drop. The Coyotes had some of their long term season ticket holders drop the puck only to surprise them with their son coming home from Afghanistan. The arena was the loudest it has been all season as U.S. Army Sergeant Dan Urman tackled his father to the ice.
“It was unbelievable. You show me another city in another demographic that would show up and cheer and have a building like we had tonight when we’d done what we had at home for the last three months,” said Shane Doan on the fans at the final game. “That’s pretty impressive. As a player you’re really grateful.”
Coyotes team awards
There have been many players that have put it all out there for the team. Key players like Tobias Rieder and Oliver Ekman-Larsson had record breaking seasons that helped the team in vital moments. The aforementioned two were not the only ones to have a steady effort, and the team commended the few consistent players in their team awards.
Fry’s Food Stores Team MVP Award & Desert Schools Leading Scorer Award: Oliver Ekman-Larsson
- Ended the season with 23 goals and 43 points
- Tied the franchise record for defensemen goals in a season and established an NHL record for goals in a season by a Swedish-born defenseman
- Played 82 games, the most by anyone else on the team
Ganem Jewelers Three-Star Award: Mike Smith
- 36 star points in 2014-15
- 903 save percentage (SV%) and a goals against average of 3.18
Arizona Lottery Jukka Nieminen Memorial Trophy (hardest working player): Tobias Rieder
- 13-8-21 in 71 games in his rookie season
- His 13 goals are tied as the third-most scored by a rookie in Coyotes history
- Leads the Coyotes and NHL rookies with three shorthanded goals this season
Gila River Casinos Man of the Year Award: Michael Stone
- For his efforts in bettering the community in his fourth season with the team
“It feels kind of weird, we have meetings and stuff on Monday and that’s when we say goodbye,” said Ekman-Larsson. “I think a lot of change, like a lot of players wont be here next year.”
A peek into next season
Lots of talk this season has been centered around what they are going to do to ensure that this kind of season that they had doesn’t happen again. There is still so much uncertainty with the Coyotes, and nothing will truly be certain until the NHL Draft happens and they see who they get. There are so many young players in their system like Max Domi and Brendan Perlini, but the timeframe on when they will be ready for the big league is unknown.
That being said, the Coyotes offseason is a time where they can reconvene and hopefully pull together a team that will be prosperous in the coming seasons.
“We need to get back what we’re good at,” said Ekman-Larsson. “That’s defending and playing hard…We have to regroup and try again next year.”
“It’s been a painful experience that’s for sure.”
– Head Coach Dave Tippett