The Coyotes monthly mailbag has built a reputation for offbeat ledes. This month, I asked you to mimic my weird ways by requiring one of your maximum-of-two questions be something non-hockey related. Props to you. You were creative.
We’ll get to those in a minute, but first I want to talk to you about the world helium shortage. I promise that I am not, er, inflating its seriousness. It’s real, and it has major implications.
I first learned about the world helium shortage from a place where everybody goes for knowledge: the adult animated television series “Smiling Friends.” My kids like the show so I watched an episode. The helium knowledge drop came via a quick, offhand comment, but when I Googled it to see if it was real, holy ****!
Per an NBC report (and countless others) the helium shortage has doctors worried about one of the natural gas’s most essential uses: MRIs. An MRI can’t function without about 2,000 liters of ultra-cold liquid helium keeping its magnets cool enough to work, and no other element is cold enough for the MRI to operate.
Imagine where we would be without this technology, including professional athletes, who rely on these tests to diagnose injuries.
The war in Ukraine is impacting its availability, costs have risen dramatically, and scarcity is impacting research, but there is also the reality that the gas simply does not exist in great supply on earth.
“There’s only a finite amount of helium in the Earth’s crust,” Harvard physicist Philip Kim told NBC. “Once it evaporates off, it’s completely lost into outer space.”
Which begs a couple of questions: Why is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade still employing those aircraft carrier-size balloons? And why are we still selling party balloons to all the selfish moms and kids of the world?
Look, I like to alter my voice with helium as much as the next moron, but is Little Johnny’s temporary joy more important than an accurate diagnosis of Connor McDavid’s knee? Besides, balloons suck. Just ask my old prep school and University of Wisconsin buddy Andrew Cohen, who laid it all out in this side-splitting diatribe.
“You’re at the park with your kid, she sees balloons at a party, but she can’t have one as they’re only for the party guests. Tears.
“She’s at a birthday party with balloons, but doesn’t get the color she wants. Tears.
“She gets a balloon, but accidentally lets go and watches it disappear into the sky. Tears. “She gets a balloon and is all giddy but then it pops. Tears.
“She gets a balloon, somehow none of those bad things happen, she keeps it for a few days… and watches it slowly and inevitably shrivel up and wilt into nothingness. Tears.”
Andy has daughters. He knows, folks. He knows. So stop being so selfish, you little brats. Your clichéd birthday party with the Superman bounce house, the store-bought cake and those colorful, bird-choking hazards is getting in the way of medical science.
Yeah, I’m joking, but the world helium shortage is no joke.
Let’s get to your questions. Please excuse any typos. You asked 100 questions. My eyes started to blur in the editing process.
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I don’t see Sedona or Prescott high up on the priority list of areas needing ice sheets, but Arizona certainly has a massive shortage of rinks as this story from 2.5 years ago detailed.
The far Southeast Valley is growing and that is an area to look at, but look at the West Valley and Tucson, too. The West Valley has exactly two permanent ice sheets; both in Peoria. The Southwest Valley has none. While there is an arena in the planning stages in Tucson (it feels like it has been planned forever), Tucson also has no permanent ice sheets. Those are the areas of greatest need.
1. They are happy with what he accomplished and how he adapted, but the sample is too small to form any significant judgments other than this: He did not look out of place. 2. Led Zeppelin in a landslide. I have a 20-song Zeppelin playlist on my phone.
1. My understanding is that it can legally, but they would have to reach an agreement with the relevant tribe on a revenue split from it. The Coyotes are not walking onto reservation land and keeping all of the gaming revenue, or even a majority of it. 2. “My Kind of Town” would be the choice, although neither of those is among my Sinatra favorites. Start with “Witchcraft.”
1. I haven’t delved into this fully yet so I will only comment on the ones about whom I have a better sense.
Coyotes UFAs: Brett Ritchie, Connor Mackey: They acquired both at the deadline so you would assume they at least want to explore bringing them back. As always, it will come down to money.
Roadrunners UFAs: Laurent Dauphin, Michael Carcone, Boko Imama, Steven Kampfer, Ronald Knot.
Coyotes RFAs: Christian Fischer, Jack McBain, Connor Ingram, Matias Maccelli: I expect they will at least re-sign three of them with Ingram the unknown due to their goaltending situation that I wrote about. The trick for Fischer will be getting term, which I also wrote about.
Roadrunners RFAs: Nathan Smith, Ryan McGregor, Cam Crotty, Ivan Prosvetov, Jan Jeník, David Tendeck: I have to believe that at least Smith, Crotty, Prosvetov and Jeník will be back, but we’ll see. Not sure about McGregor.
2. Just watched the movie “RRR” and it was awesome in its absurdity. The TV show choices are numerous, but “The Bear” and “Severance” are two recent favorites. No recent music comes to mind.
1. I don’t know. André Tourigny has favored a leadership group rather than one player holding that responsibility, but he has also said that if one emerges organically, he might go down that road. The two players whom you mentioned would seem to be the leading candidates. I never viewed Keller in that light before this season.
2. Hoo-boy. I refuse to pick one. “Underdog,” “Scooby Doo” and “Magilla Gorilla” are top of mind.
1. I have to believe he is for all of the reasons that I outlined previously. He’s 27, he may never have greater value on the market and he probably won’t be a major pice of the puzzle when the Coyotes emerge from the rebuild. That said, he and Clayton Keller have amazing chemistry. GM Bill Armstrong has to consider the impact Schmaltz’s departure might have on Keller’s game and psyche.
2. The last video game I played was “Just Dance” with my kids, maybe five years ago. Vids are not my thing.
1. No, but the option is there. They don’t need to exercise it yet.
2. My trips to Philadelphia with the Coyotes have always been brief; the in-one-day-out-the-next variety, so I haven’t ventured beyond those two. I’m open to suggestions, although I don’t know when I’ll get the opportunity to try them.
I’m pulling for the Rays or the Cubs, but my hunch says the Braves.
1. Roope Hintz, William Nylander, Andrei Kuzmenko, Miro Heiskanen, Vince Dunn, Filip Gustavsson.
2. Honestly, I haven’t had time to read a single book this year. I will this summer.
1. My favorite athlete of all-time: Muhammad Ali. Fascinating life, spectacular quote.
2. My wife is Irish. It’s a big deal around the house.
I’d be surprised. Thornton is not ready to turn pro. He should be back in juniors next season.
1. I don’t know that there is any rush with him under contract for another season and the organization not exactly flush with defensive prospects at the pro level.
2. I am a huge mustard fan, and that includes the grainy varieties. My favorite is a grainy brown mustard, but I am also a fan of dijon.
None that I am aware of. The only programs that I have ever heard associated with the new arena are the ASU men’s and women’s basketball programs. I reported that a little more than a year ago.
Ha! I have not heard a peep about that, but I love the idea.
1. Yes, there are regular check-ins if for nothing more than to simply maintain a relationship. GMs are busy and Bill likes to give the coaches their space after games, but there is plenty of interaction at events, practices, meetings, etc.
2. They are absolutely consulted. A good GM seeks input from a variety of sources to better understand the situation. I’m not sure how to quantify how much input they get, but a GM wants to know what a player is like in the room, what he’s like to play with, and assorted other variables.
I don’t know, but the last thing that I was told is that there is no real timeline on a decision. I am not privy to more details on the process or why that timeline changed from what I heard originally. Is your scenario possible? Sure. I just can’t confirm it.
1. I’m not sure what that mix looks like but a veteran presence is critical, especially on the blue line. You obviously have to have a lot of talent, too. To me, the optimal situation is what Norfolk (then affiliated with Tampa) had when Jon Cooper was coaching and the roster included guys like Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat. You want guys to learn to win and have a group move up together, but winning titles at the AHL level is certainly not a prerequisite of NHL success.
2. I took a poll. It’s a dead heat between Mak and Totri.
1. I don’t like putting a numerical value on it. I just think it’s a possibility that could and probably should be explored.
2. Definitely “Oppenheimer,” but my kids also want to see “Barbie” and it could be fun.
1. Definitely Ladislav Nagy. He had sick skills.
2. I’m taking two Led Zeppelin members. Jimmy Page on guitar and John Bonham on drums. I’d take personal favorite Tony Levin (of Peter Gabriel and King Crimson fame) on bass. For vocals, I would employ a rotating cast. There are too many great singers to pick one.
1. It’s not easy. I think you saw some of that friction play out this season, and I think it will be a factor in Bill Armstrong’s moves this summer. No player wants to spend the prime of his career on a team that can’t compete for a playoff spot, but to build a sustainable winner you need to do what Bill is doing.
Transparency about the process has helped, but there is no getting around players’ and coaches’ desire to win now. It’s just a cross that Armstrong will have to bear; a reality to which he will sometimes have to make concessions as he keeps his eyes fixed on the future.
2. The latter. Nothing gets my blood boiling quite like unqualified analysis, whether that comes via the analyst’s lack of expertise or a dearth of data.
I do not. I think they will weigh all options and see what makes the most sense. Can they waive Prosvetov and send him down to Tucson for another year without another team claiming him? Can they bring back Connor Ingram at an affordable price? Can they trade Karel Vejmelka for something valuable? We’ll see…
Update from a well-trusted source:
Clubs cannot pay or help pay their draft picks. That’s cap circumvention in the eyes of the NHL. It’s not the NIL that is preventing it; it’s cap circumvention of the entry-level contract system. They even scrutinize PTOs for players coming out of college and starting in the minors for the same reason.
Still working on the second question.
1. I have heard things about favorable polling for the Coyotes, but I have not seen anything and I do not know what the opposition’s polling is saying. Also, I am less trusting of polling than I was pre-2016. We’ll just have to wait and see.
2. New York. I have a few traditions in place with old friends. I have dinner with an old high school friend at a new restaurant of his picking every time. He is batting 1.000. I also have brunch with an old college friend in Brooklyn every time I visit. He is also batting 1.000.
1. Marriott Bonvoy is what I have always used. It’s reliable and I love the points system.
2. That said, my two favorite hotels come from my time with The Athletic when I was allowed to stay at the team hotels: The Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver, and the Ritz Carleton in Ft. Lauderdale where I had a massive corner room looking out on the ocean.
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They definitely watch and choose sides. It’s the Cup. It’s what every player dreams about.
With Shayne Gostisbehere and Jakob Chychrun gone, and with Connor Mackey heading into Group 6 unrestricted free agency, I could see that happening. I would think Armstrong would be looking for another guy who could bring stability and veteran leadership, but someone who could also bring something in return at the trade deadline.
Probably not as aggressively as this season. Armstrong may have to make some concessions to the core by acquiring a young piece or two who could grow with the team and help it succeed. That doesn’t mean that the team will push for a playoff spot. It could even end up worse in the standings, I’m just not sure that will be the intent this season.
I don’t know and I have not been able to get an answer so far. I will keep trying. Sorry.
1. As I noted above, I have heard things about favorable polling for the Coyotes, but I have not seen anything and I do not know what the opposition’s polling is saying. Also, I am less trusting of polling than I was pre-2016. We’ll just have to wait and see.
2. It’s awful, except on a grilled burger. I think it’s the vinegar. I hate vinegar, but the tomato flavor in ketchup always tastes like rancid tomatoes to me.
1. My top three all come from the same draft: Maveric Lamoureux, Artyom Duda and Miko Matikka.
2. The 60 may be the scariest, given the way that people drive on it, but I have to go with the I-10 through the heart of the city. That experience sucks. Incidentally, it could have been alleviated had ADOT made the decision long ago to expand the 60 west, rather than dumping it onto the 10.
The Coyotes’ rights to Räty expire on June 1 and he has played well. I have to think that is on the table. I don’t think Manix Landry’s play warrants anything more than an AHL contract. He just hasn’t panned out.
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I hesitate to draw parallels because the situations are so different. Yes, they both elevated Division I programs from much lower levels, but while Quinnipiac may not be able to offer the same level of facilities as ASU, it sits in the heart of a fertile recruiting ground for players in the northeast near eastern Canada so finding players and convincing them to come to a program near home is much easier.
That said, Pecknold has cast a wide net for players in recent years, drawing players from British Columbia and European nations. I think playing in a conference is immensely important, and something that could happen for ASU very soon.
What I liked about Rand Pecknold’s coaching approach, and what I think helped him win a national title is that he managed to keep a lot of veterans around and his team played with a lot more structure and discipline than some of the more talented teams that it beat in the NCAA Tournament.
1. I don’t think it makes much sense. Better to cast a wider net when marketing your team.
2. I think they are dull, uninspiring and only marginally better than past Cardinals uniforms. But then, I think NFL uniforms (aside from the helmets) are the most boring uniforms in professional sports.
You already answered your question. Patrice Bergeron has been an unconventionally elite player for almost two decades. He’s the best defensive forward the game has ever seen, he’s one of the best leaders the game has ever seen, and he also has 1,040 career points. He has been to three Cup Finals but only won one. I want to see him get a second to cement his legacy.
I think Petey is ahead of Leah in that line. You should apply some pressure on the next show. We’re all waiting for him to grill for us.
If we’re talking teeth, I’ll go with 12. If we’re talking about the canine, then three.
The Coyotes. Always. We often refer to the offseason as arena season. Toss in the draft, free agency, camps, five shows a week and my vacation and that pretty much eats up the summer.
I think it is very difficult to make the tournament as an independent. Just ask Alaska. That’s what made ASU’s two tournament seasons so remarkable. I’m not sure this team is quite talented enough to earn a spot, and losing Josh Doan hurts, but they do have an exceedingly favorable home schedule.
1. I don’t think we are anywhere close to having women’s teams in the west. If expansion occurs, it will happen in the Midwest, East and Canada before coming west. PHF commissioner Reagan Carey as much as said so when we had her on the show.
2. I loved writing in college and I loved sports, which is why I initially chose a job… in finance. Yuck. I bailed before I ever worked a day. I would have been miserable in that life. Instead, I went back home to Chicago and freelanced for a newspaper before applying to journalism school (Wisconsin). While home, I was inspired by the great Chicago columnist Bob Verdi and the always sarcastic Bernie Lincicome.
I think there is, but it’s a chicken and egg kind of thing. The Coyotes knew that Geekie would be a long-term project and I think that’s what we have seen.
His coach, James Patrick, takes more of a traditional approach and there are things that Geekie wasn’t doing earlier this season, namely playing within the team structure and avoiding unnecessary risks. As a result, he wasn’t getting the opportunities that you would normally associate with first-round picks, such as playing on the first-team power play.
There does seem to be a little friction between coach and player, but you wonder if maturation could solve that. If not, maybe a trade could solve it.
1. Connor Ingram and Liam O’Brien are both great; insightful and funny. Josh Brown is really good at analyzing.
2. By cover, I assume you mean be around more than once or twice; so local guys.
Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald.
Suns: Steve Nash.
ASU football: Terrell Suggs.
ASU basketball: Ike Diogu.
High school football: Todd Heap.
High school basketball: Jerryd Bayless & Mike Bibby.
High school baseball: Jeremy Accardo.
Drew: I suggest that you ask your season-ticket rep. I lean on my sources for a lot of information. Sorry, bud, but I don’t want to bother them with this one. It’s too trivial. I did see someone post in Discord recently that an email went out from the team stating that pins were delayed but still scheduled for delivery.
Neither do I. Players will complain about impaired vision. They’ll complain about opponents being more reckless with their sticks because of the shields. Every time, I point to the college game and ask: Are you seeing those issue there? The answer is no. It’s a poorly constructed argument because there is no real argument against shields and better protection.
“The Wire” “Band of Brothers” “Game of Thrones” “Sherlock” (“The Bear” and “Severance” both have a chancre to join this list).
1. My hunch says no, but it’s impossible to say what Rasmus Korhonen and Anson Thornton will become. Goalies develop more slowly than other positions and that development is notoriously unpredictable.
2. Ryan: I have covered multiple college football national championships. I have covered the NCAA Final Four. I have covered the World Series. I have covered multiple Super Bowls. Somehow, I have never covered the Stanley Cup Final. I must do so before all is said and done.
It’s as good a theory as any. Ogie wondered earlier if he was waiting for the Tempe vote. All I know now is that there is no actual timeline, which is different from what I was told earlier.
1. I just don’t have any sense of what Plan B is. I don’t know if the Coyotes have a well hatched plan. I don’t know if the NHL would have the patience to wait for another plan to come to fruition, and I don’t know if there are available sites anywhere that are nearly as viable as the current one.
2. I explored this and was told it would not make sense to have three teams competing for hockey dollars in such close proximity. I do wonder about the Coyotes’ long-term plans in Tucson. The arena simply does not afford them many revenue opportunities.
I don’t know. As I noted one question above, I don’t know if the Coyotes have a well hatched plan. I don’t know if the NHL would have the patience to wait for another plan to come to fruition, and I don’t know if there are available sites anywhere that are nearly as viable as the current one.
1. That would depend on where they land. If they pick at No. 2, it will be Adam Fantilli. If it’s No. 3, No. 6, No. 7 or No. 8, we’ll see. Here’s a look at one site’s current rankings, but there are others who rank them differently.
2. As I noted above, we often refer to the offseason as arena season. Toss in the draft, free agency, camps, five shows a week and my vacation and that pretty much eats up the summer.
1. It’s certainly possible unless they find someone else suitable for him to play with. There is not a lot of high-end skill on this roster right now.
2. I’m pulling for the Rays or the Cubs, but my hunch says the Braves.
I think an announcement could come soon and from what I am hearing, the Big Ten seems far less likely than it used to be while more energy is being directed toward the NCHC. A lot could depend on what happens with Miami, which is looking to leave the conference.
1. No more than ketchup belongs on a hot dog. 2. Ketchup is the worst. I like BBQ and honey mustard best, unless somebody has a specialty sauce like Four Peaks’ chipotle ranch.
1. Not necessarily. I do think there could be some ELCs, but he may be thinking of adding existing NHL pieces or well-developed prospects who could grow with the core. After this draft, the Coyotes are going to start thinking about improvement on the ice, and improvement that can be sustained for the long-term. They have enough assets where they might be able to acquire those young, existing pieces.
2. Probably not, unless I join the PHNX team at an event later this summer and have a couple beers. I’m not much of a baseball guy, and I’m not a big fan of Chase Field.
1. I can’t think of a single player, but Petey wants Nick Bjugstad back.
2. The south of France, northern Italy or maybe Australia. Hopefully, I will get the chance to explore the latter with the Coyotes this fall. Dark horse: Croatia.
I don’t know. I think they will explore every option. I explored them all right here.
I hope so. Let me be clear: What he did was wrong, but that should not mean a lifetime ban. Sammy is pretty lovable. People need to forgive, forget and move on. My understanding is that owner Tom Ricketts wants Sosa to apologize first. Maybe Sammy will do so. Maybe then, Tom Ricketts will also apologize for all the mistakes that he has made. My guess is that list is much longer.
Nope. All I have been told is there is “no real timeline on a decision,” which is different from what I was told initially.
1. No. That would be the same mistake that has been made at least three times in the past here. There is not enough talent here to win consistently, no matter what the core says (hint: they are wired to believe they can win and you want them to be wired to believe that). That said, Bill Armstrong may have to make some concessions to the core to keep them on board with the rebuild. That may mean going out and acquiring a couple players who can grow with the team.
2. From a personal standpoint, “The Stranger” (I read it in French first) was the most impactful on me in terms of evaluating human existence.
1. I doubt that happened. Right now, they are solely focused on Tempe.
2. Season 3 has been better than Season 2 so far. We’ll see how it finishes before we measure it against Season 1.
Slim. It’s an issue of timing. If the Coyotes only had one season left at Mullett (this assumes the Tempe vote passes), they might have a shot at Matthews. I don’t think Auston Matthews is going to play two seasons at Mullett. That’s not an attractive proposition for the most desirable free agent on the market.
That said, I do think that playing in Arizona holds some fascination for Matthews. He loves it here. He’s close with Clayton Keller and Christian Fischer. Could he sign another short deal and then come here? Maybe, but it would have to be shorter than his last one. As attractive as he would be from a marketing standpoint and maybe even from a playing standpoint initially, a 32-year-old Matthews is going to provide rapidly diminishing returns.
1. My parents had Blackhawks season tickets for 17 years. I attended a ton of games growing up.
2. The funny thing is, my best memory comes from a year when my dad chose not to purchase his playoff tickets because he was so disgusted with the franchise’s inability to succeed, and more specifically, with owner William Wirtz’s cheap ways. It was 1990. That postseason, the Hawks went on a run to the Campbell Conference Final where they played an epic series against the Oilers; one in which Mark Messier proved to me that he was the greatest leader in the history of the game by taking over Game 4 at Chicago Stadium and willing the Oilers to a season-evening victory, and eventually another Cup — this one without Wayne Gretzky, who had already moved on to LA. Anyway, my memory came one series earlier.
I was so bummed to be missing the playoff run that I went downtown to scalp tickets with two buddies. We kept walking east of the stadium until the offers went from high-priced tickets to “Smoke! Acid! Cocaine! You try before you buy!” That’s when we turned around and met a guy who knew one of the ushers.
For $20 each, he snuck us into the standing room only seats where we heckled St. Louis Blues fans mercilessly while the Hawks rolled to an 8-2 victory in Game 7. The St. Louis fans were so good-natured that we eventually bought them a round of beer and had a good laugh.
I think he is open to exploring all avenues, including packaging assets to move up.
1. Good question. I doubt we have seen the last of them. Even grandstanding politicians have gotten in on the act.
2. If that’s true, I say, “Trade him. Now!”
1. As I thought about it, I realized that the dominant hand is almost always used to hold the stick.
2. Definitely. Lots of Pink Floyd. Also, Jefferson Airplane, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, The Moody Blues, and of course, The Beatles.
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