Cup dream alive for pack of ex-Coyotes - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Cup dream alive for pack of ex-Coyotes

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Posted: Wednesday, April 28, 2004 11:59 pm | Updated: 5:24 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Seventeen ex-Coyotes have accomplished something this season that they never did in Phoenix — advance past the first round of the NHL playoffs.

It's enough to make local hockey fans cry in their Labatt's Blue.

If you rounded up all of the ex-Coyotes who were still chasing Lord Stanley's Cup as of Wednesday, it would make for a fairly impressive roster and some interesting choices.

For starters, who to start in goal? Nikolai Khabibulin is the logical choice as he is leading Tampa Bay into the Eastern Conference finals with a sparkling 0.99 goals-against average and a 96.4 save percentage. But then there's Sean Burke, the guy who carried this franchise from 1999 to 2003 and now plays understudy to, gulp, another ex-Coyote, Robert Esche, in Philadelphia.

Your first line could be Jeremy Roenick (Philadelphia) at center, Tony Amonte (Philadelphia) at right wing and versatile forward Chris Gratton (Colorado) at left wing.

Too bad left wing Keith Tkachuk (St. Louis) got eliminated in the first round. Then again, he never scores in the playoffs, anyway.

Want a checking line with some scoring punch? How about Michal Handzus (Philadelphia) between Branko Radivojevic (Philadelphia) and Mikael Renberg (Toronto)?

Danny Markov (Philadelphia) and Ossi Vaananen (Colorado) could anchor the defense (Teppo Numminen's Dallas Stars crashed in the first round.) Of course none of this is possible. Some of these players came in exchange for each other and some simply wouldn't play for Phoenix.

But there's a bigger problem with this roster. The payroll.

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