Leadership Counts, Leadership Pays

Keith Yandle's Martin Richard sweater courtesy Rich Nairn/Phoenix Coyotes

Keith Yandle’s Martin Richard sweater
courtesy Rich Nairn/Phoenix Coyotes

By now, most of you know about the Coyotes sweater Keith Yandle wore during warmups last night.

If you don’t, the Coyotes defenseman and alternate Captain had a sweater rushed through by Artcraft Sports with “MARTIN RICHARD” and the number 8. Martin was the eight year old boy killed in the horrific Boston Marathon bombing.

Keith’s wife Krystyn is from the same neighborhood (Dorchester) as Martin’s family. Their family has a bunch of other close connections to the tragic event in their home town. Sarah McLellan did her usual great job with a Coyotes story, take some time and click here to read it.

Yandle remained visibly shaken by the time we saw him on the ice on Monday against the Sharks with his skate Sharpied with “Pray for Boston”.

Great Idea, Yands

By all accounts, the Martin Richard sweater was Keith’s idea. Somebody made the arrangements to get it stitched up by Artcraft and delivered to Chicago in time for the game against the Blackhawks. The Coyotes organization from top to bottom is a class act used to delivering under the pressure of impossible tasks, so it could have been anybody. Artcraft has been great for years as well.

BOTH teams signed the back of the sweater and it will soon be auctioned off. While some of us would shudder a little to have a Kane signature on our gear, most people would love it. You can imagine it will bring serious dollars and you can rest assured the money will go to the right place.

I believe Coyotes Head Equipment Manager Extraordinaire Stan Wilson is setting up the auction of the sweater, I’d put up a link if I had it. Keep your eye on Coyotes Rumor Roundup, it will be there when available.

Trade Yandle

There is a lot of understandable sentiment to trade Keith Yandle. The Coyotes have enviable depth at his position and he has a big salary and cap hit. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, for example, has the skills of a 20 year veteran defenseman, yet he’s still referred to by his coach as “Young Ekman-Larrson”. He is a scant two points behind Yandle this year and also has a well deserved big contract.

The Coyotes have been in need of a reliable scorer for years, Yandle is the logical bait fans want GM Don Maloney to use to attract a big time scorer. Keith has been known to make spectacular and costly errors on the ice, usually turnovers in dangerous spots. I call those plays “Dammit Yandle”s.

Yet, GMDM hasn’t traded Yandle yet. Why?

A Solid Team Needs A Solid Base

Everybody knows the heart of the Phoenix Coyotes is Captain Shane Doan. Everybody knows the Phoenix Coyotes have been owned by the NHL for four years now and have ownership challenges that remain unresolved. Everybody knows the Phoenix Coyotes don’t have a star player likely to light the goal lamp reliably. Despite all of that, and more, the team is STILL clawing at a slim chance for a playoff spot with four games remaining in the season. Despite that, the Coyotes beat the best team in the NHL last night.

My theory is leadership continues to be a huge factor in the Coyotes success.

Like every other NHL team, the Coyotes are made up of a bunch of professional athletes who know their jobs and should just do them every night. Certainly they try. But anyone who has watched or played the game know that a large percentage of success is based on attitude. Everybody that’s played ANY sport has hopefully had that feeling of being “in the zone” and feeling invincible. Everybody knows when the “zone” is cooking, nine times out of ten the performance and results follow with success.

When the “zone” is elusive, it falls to the leadership of the team to provide the boost necessary to win.

Keith Yandle is a big part of that solid base of leadership for the Phoenix Coyotes and it’s important, really important.

Part of leadership is leading by example. Keith Yandle will play his 300th consecutive game against the Wings tomorrow, having not missed a game since March, 2009. He is the second active defenseman in the NHL in consecutive games played. Yandle is third in points on the Coyotes and 13th in points for all NHL defensemen. He is third in assists and second in TOI (time on ice) on the Coyotes, behind only Ekman-Larrson.

Yes, Yandle’s offensive firepower sometimes results in stupid turnovers. I submit, though, that another mark of a good leader is seeing where a weakness lies and the willingness to jump in and correct it. As in missing offense.

Whatever, Dude

No, it’s not “whatever”.

Courtesy Rich Nairn/Phoenix Coyotes

Courtesy Rich Nairn/Phoenix Coyotes

Watch the rink during the singing of the National Anthem, during BOTH anthems when a Canadian team is in town. Watch the way Shane Doan behaves and watch Keith Yandle. Both men will remain stock still, no “keep the legs warm” jiggling or anything. Doaner takes it one step further, waiting until the color guard starts moving before breaking his attention stance. It’s important to our family, we notice and appreciate it.

Yandle and LaBarbera came up with the player of the game ridiculous belt. Everybody loves it and it made a splash in the hockey media, a REAL rarity for the Coyotes.

While it wasn’t the goal, Keith’s tributes to Boston also made a big, POSITIVE, splash in the media for his team.

Watch the end of every game won. Notice who is congratulating who makes sure the high fives work right. It’s important.

Besides on ice leadership and direction of play, all of those off ice things also count. But those are the things that are difficult, if not impossible, to put a number on. Maybe GMDM has some sort of leadership factor he plugs into his moneyball calculator, but I doubt it. Everybody knows it when they see it, though, right?

There’s no stats for leadership, but Keith Yandle has what it takes to take over the biggest “C” in the NHL when the time comes.

Watch Keith’s skateup with Walshy from last night.


  1. A wonderful tribute to two outstanding members of the Coyotes.

    • Jacob Anderson says

      Ridiculous comments removed. Whoop there’s nothing left!

      • Visiting your house has nothing to do with “handling the truth”, it has to do with your filthy mouthed personal attacks.

        I guess I’m just curious how many of those words you will use directly to my face.

        Got an answer to that, Jakey?

  2. Matt Smith says

    Well written. Too many people underestimate the factors of leadership and how a player is respected by their teammates. Those who see the mistakes but not the plays … are missing the big picture. With Smitty sprawled out on the ice in OT against the Hawks, Yands was laying out in front of the empty net to block a shot with his defensive partner. Not sure which blocked it, but Yandle is a winner and I hope he retires a Coyote.

  3. I Me Mine says

    Keith Yandle should never be traded from the Yotes. He is way too valuable.