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COYOTES GM BILL ARMSTRONG INTENDS TO FIND A CREATIVE SOLUTION TO THE TAYLOR HALL CONUNDRUM

The situation the Arizona Coyotes have found themselves in this season has not been an enviable one in the least. The team was bounced from the playoffs early, lost its General Manager (John Chayka), was penalized by the league for violating the NHL's Combine Testing Policy resulting in the forfeiture of two high draft picks, the front office failed to pay out signing bonuses on time and an internal salary cap has been set somewhere in the $70M range for the struggling organization.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the team is now exploring trade options for two of its higher salaried players in captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson and netminder Darcy Kuemper. The thought of Arizona being in any financial position to keep star winger Taylor Hall in the desert would seem like a farfetched notion at this point.

With Hall eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on October 9th, time is running out for new General Manager Bill Armstrong and the Coyotes organization to work out an extension, but the recently hired GM is not taking this situation lying down.

"It'd have to be very creative to keep him [in Arizona]," Armstrong said Wednesday. "That's something we're going to explore. We're never going to turn our eye to talent like that. He's a heck of a player, but we've got to explore. These are [things that are] going to happen between now and free agency. We're going to explore everything."

While Armstrong's agenda seems to be geared toward retaining the 28-year-old winger, Hall has an agenda of his own, turning his attention toward the possibility to becoming a free agent for the first time in his career. It's not difficult to imagine that Hall, who has only seen postseason action twice in the last decade, might like to sign somewhere else just for the chance to compete in the playoffs for a chance to hoist the Cup for the first time in his career.

"Any player at this stage in their career that has had the career that I've had, 10 seasons, only make the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs twice, that's really what I'm after," Hall said. "So we'll see what happens there.

"I think the Coyotes have a bright future. They have some great guys, some good young players. When I get around to crossing that bridge and I kind of come to what I want to do, we'll see.

"But yeah, I'd say it's pretty much all winning. I don't think the money's going to be what it was maybe before COVID or before the season, but that's fine. I think we get paid a lot of money to play a game, and we'll see what happens."



Hall and Chayka had a great relationship, and the likelihood that Hall would have signed an extension to remain a Coyote would have been higher, no doubt, if Chayka had not left the team the way he did. Especially with new owner Alex Meruelo coming in and reportedly low-balling the pending UFA at a dinner that Meruelo had excluded Chayka from a week or so before their former GM quit his job.

"It kind of clouds it a bit," Hall said before Armstrong was hired. "I think John leaving was unexpected for everyone. I had a good relationship with him. He's the one that traded for me and obviously had a lot of belief in me, and that was important.

"But we'll see. Change happens a lot in hockey, and you have to be ready for that stuff. We'll see what happens. We'll see how the conversations go with whoever's having them."

It's unknown exactly how talks will go between Armstrong and Hall, especially given Hall's cryptic comments about postseason success being high on his list. But with the newly appointed GM exploring his options and trying to find creative solutions, it's an encouraging sign for Coyotes fans that the team plans to take a good run at retaining one of its premier assets at the very least. If they can succeed in doing that, perhaps Hall's attitude towards winning will help to build a winning culture in he desert.

Source: NHL.com
MIKE ARMENTI
SEPTEMBER 23, 2020  (18H26)