Puckdoku is the trivia game sweeping the hockey world. It’s the NHL equivalent of the “Immaculate Grid“, a three-by-three fill-in-the-blank puzzle which originated as an MLB game but quickly spawned variants for all kinds of other sports leagues. The concept is simple: for each square, try to think of a player who fits into the criteria established by both the corresponding X- and Y-axis labels. For example, Ray Bourque would fit perfectly into a Boston Bruins/Colorado Avalanche square. Patrick Roy would do just fine for Colorado/Montreal. You get the idea.
Of course, it goes a little deeper than that. Sometimes, instead of teams, Puckdoku uses statistical thresholds (“200+ goals”) or career achievements (“Olympic gold medallist”) as categories. Also, if you want to use a Minnesota North Stars player for the Dallas Stars or an original Winnipeg Jets player for the Arizona Coyotes, you can. Naturally, some players are more useful for Puckdoku than others. Someone like Maurice Richard, who spent his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens, is pretty much useless for the game unless a Habs label happens to intersect with the right statistical category.
On the flip side, players who spent time with several NHL teams are among the most valuable for Puckdoku purposes. And the more obscure the player, the lower (and better) your “uniqueness” score will be. Both Jarome Iginla and Blake Comeau are valid answers for Calgary/Pittsburgh, but one is a little less well-known than the other. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to spend some time here at Daily Faceoff highlighting three players connected with each NHL franchise who are particularly useful in games of Puckdoku. We’ll continue today with the Arizona Coyotes.
Teams: Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks, Arizona Coyotes, Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames
Richardson once scored four goals in a single game at age 34. He’d scored just three goals in 76 games through the entire previous season.
Such was the nature of Richardson’s unique career, which began in Colorado back in 2005. One of the most reliable bottom-six forwards in the league during his best years, Richardson could pretty much always be counted upon to give his best effort and take care of business in his own zone. He won the Stanley Cup in 2012 as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.
Usually, Richardson was good for anywhere between three to seven goals per season. But every now and then, he’d pop off into the double-digits. He scored 14 with the Avalanche in 2006–07. He tallied exactly 11 goals on three separate occasions with three different teams. And with the Arizona Coyotes in 2018–19, Richardson tied for the team lead with 19 goals in 66 games. (His fellow 19-goal scorer? Alex Galchenyuk).
The Coyotes missed the playoffs by just four points in 2018–19, which was Richardson’s fourth of five seasons with the club. Richardson played 299 of his 869 games as a Coyote, collecting 44 goals and 93 points during his tenure. And in 2020, he scored the winning goal in overtime to propel the Coyotes past the Nashville Predators in the qualifying round of the COVID Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Richardson joined the Calgary Flames as a scout earlier this week.
Teams: San Jose Sharks, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Carolina Hurricanes, Arizona Coyotes, Dallas Stars Whitney might be the single most underrated NHL player of all time. “The Wizard” remained an effective scorer into his early 40s and finished his career with 1,064 points in 1,330 games, but he spent the vast majority of his time in the NHL with unassuming, easily-overlooked clubs in non-traditional hockey markets.
But instead of toiling away on those teams without finding much in the way of legitimate success, Whitney was instrumental in elevating those clubs into relevance. In the mid-1990s, he played a key role in the San Jose Sharks’ first two playoff runs. A decade later, he finished tied for second in playoff goals for the Carolina Hurricanes as they captured their first-ever Stanley Cup.
But, more than anything else, Whitney was always a premier playmaker. He racked up 679 assists over his 22-year NHL career, enough to place 66th in league history. At age 39, he set a Coyotes club record for most assists (53) in a single season, and he still holds it to this day.
Whitney joined the Coyotes on a two-year deal in 2010. He racked up 134 points in 157 games and helped the club reach the playoffs in both his seasons in the desert. In 2011–12, Whitney led the ‘Yotes with 77 points (including those 53 assists) and added seven more in 16 playoff games as the team reached the Western Conference Final for the first (and only) time in its history.
Even after turning 40, Whitney collected 61 points in 101 games over two seasons with the Dallas Stars before retiring in 2014 at age 42. The Hurricanes really should retire his No. 13.
Teams: Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils, Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Boston Bruins
You’d be forgiven if you completely forgot about Hall’s tenure with the Coyotes, which occurred during the pandemic-shortened 2019–20 season.
Let’s set the scene: Arizona was staring down its first playoff berth in eight years. They had a really strong defensive group and two good goaltenders, but general manager John Chayka wanted to add another scorer — and he was willing to part with his first-round pick to make it happen.
Hall was less than two seasons removed from winning the Hart Memorial Trophy as NHL MVP. He hadn’t been able to recapture the same magic in his subsequent seasons with the New Jersey Devils, who sent him to the Coyotes in December 2019 in exchange for three prospects (most notably defenseman Kevin Bahl) and two draft picks (including Arizona’s own 2020 first-rounder).
Despite holding down a playoff spot at the time of the trade, the Coyotes began to slide shortly after Hall arrived in the desert. But the former No. 1 overall pick collected 27 points in 35 games down the stretch and ultimately did help the Coyotes return to the playoffs by way of a qualifying round victory over the Nashville Predators in the COVID-19 bubble. Hall collected six points in nine playoff games with the Coyotes.
Hall followed up his tenure in Arizona with a far less successful stint in Buffalo. Of course, he’s far better remembered for his years with the Devils, Edmonton Oilers, and Boston Bruins. He’ll begin a new chapter in his NHL career this fall when he plays his first game as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks, possibly on a line with fellow No. 1 pick Connor Bedard.