Coyotes trade away players (or payoffs)?

PHOENIX - Where are the Coyotes going? Not to the playoffs apparently.    

Two points out of a playoff spot with a dozen games to play and the Coyotes trade it away? Should that be our takeaway? 

We're talking about the trio of trades before the deadline on Wednesday. 

Gone are veterans Raffi Torres, Steve Sullivan and Matthew Lombardi. All traded for a minor league player or future draft picks.   

But what about the immediate future? And, for once, we're not talking about the Coyotes existence or staying power in Arizona. 

No, we're talking about the playoff push.  Or, did the front office instead push the eject button? 

"This is not surrendering the white flag," Coyotes assistant general manager Brad Treliving in the absence of GM Don Maloney, who was unavailable due to a death in the family.  "This is doing what we have to do from a management level to maximize the assets we need to maximize and give opportunities to people we think deserve opportunities."

Is the postseason a long shot? Perhaps. The reality is that the Coyotes are missing the key cog from last year's squad that made the miraculous run to the Western Conference finals – goalie Mike Smith (injury).  

But, hang on. Isn't everything a long shot with the outfit lives by the marketing mantra it recently coined:  "Hockey the Hard Way." And considering everything that Coyotes fans have endured, doesn't the Coyotes front office owe fans a similar devotion? Heck, the front half of the season already got reduced by the NHL lockout.  Now, it appears that the back end of the season has been trimmed by the lack of a complete commitment. 

Then again, the Coyotes are handcuffed by the ownership dynamic (read: 29 other owners) and all three veteran players are set to become unrestricted free agents after the season. Hence, the team felt it was time to hold an eBay auction. 

"Where we are at now, with our ability to sign these players going forward and into next year, we felt it was prudent to see what kind of assets we could recoup and provide an opportunity for some of the players we have in the minor leagues at Portland (Maine)," Treliving said.

Gotcha. But, with the clock (maybe) ticking on the NHL in the A-Z, it still would've been nice to remember the Coyotes by a different final impression.  

Remember – a white out always beats the white flag.

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