NHL analyst talks Coyotes on, off ice

Arizona Sports News online

Every step forward, every goal achieved, every critic silenced has become the norm for the Phoenix Coyotes as they’ve methodically marched their way into the Stanley Cup Western Conference Finals and a matchup with the 8th seeded Los Angeles Kings starting this weekend in Glendale.

The journey hasn’t been easy, but for Captain Coyote Shane Doan who has seen the darkest days here in the Valley, the success has been sweet.

“I interviewed Shane on the ice after the game [Monday],” NBC & TSN hockey analyst Darren Pang told Brad Cesmat Tuesday on ‘Big Guy on Sports.’ “With Shane, he’s a genuine person. I’m not sure if he’s sitting on the ice thinking of all the brutal moments. We all know Shane Doan is a winner whether he wins a Stanley Cup or not.”

Somewhat lost in the excitement of the Yotes 2-1 series clinching over Nashville was the Gary Bettman-Greg Jamison press conference which took place inside the arena less than an hour before the puck was dropped in Game 5.

Hockey fans around the state hoped for an official announcement from Commissioner Bettman saying the sale of the team to Jamison and his unnamed group of investors was forthcoming. Instead, the media was told there is no new concrete news regarding the sale, although talks are “progressing” and both parties are hoping a deal is struck in the coming weeks, not months.

Pang believes Jamison is the right man to keep hockey in the Valley.

“I know he’s called at least one friend of mine in the Phoenix area,” he explained to Cesmat. “He’s knocking on doors and he’s looking for partners. He’s the kind of guy that has the ability to put groups together. With his experience with San Jose [former President & CEO of the Sharks], that really helps…nobody knows where this is going to go. I’d be naive to tell you they’re going to cross the T’s and dot the I’s tomorrow.”

On the ice, Pang believes the red-hot Kings will advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, but says the Coyotes balance could play a major factor in how the series plays out.

“It’s hard for teams to target the head of the snake of the Phoenix Coyotes because they are the ultimate team and if one guy’s not going…if it’s not [Radeem] Vrbata and [Ray] Whitney, it’s going to be Doan and [Mikkel] Boedker. That’s what makes Phoenix very, very difficult.”

A Valley native, Eric has had a passion for the Arizona sports scene since an early age. He has covered some of the biggest events including Super Bowls, national championships and the NBA and MLB playoffs in his near 20 years in local media.

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