(Originally published at Inside Hockey)
2013 will see a few NHL teams going to the playoffs for the first time in a long time. As the season went along, they talked about the novelty of playing “meaningful games” down the stretch. The Phoenix Coyotes are not playing games like that right now. They haven’t been since they lost to Detroit last Monday.
The Coyotes had three games to play after they were eliminated from the playoffs. They won the first against San Jose, lost the second against Colorado, and will play one more on Saturday in Anaheim. Are such games meaningless? Coyotes Captain Shane Doan doesn’t think so:
You love to play, … you love to compete, I don’t care what you do, you’re going to try to find a way to win… You love to compete, and then on top of that my favorite thing to do is play hockey. Put those two together and it’s pretty easy to come up with a reason to go out there and try to perform and … give the best you can because you love the game and it’s so much fun to play.
For some players these games are a chance to prove their value before negotiating new contracts. Some need to earn a spot on next year’s roster. Those factors don’t change because the team missed the playoffs. (more…)