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Phoenix Coyotes, Florida Panthers clinch first division titles in franchise history

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Congratulations are in order for the Phoenix Coyotes and Florida Panthers, who clinched the Pacific and Southeast Division titles, respectively, with 4-1 wins Saturday.

In both cases, it's the franchise's first division title since... ever.

The 18-year wait for the Panthers is something, but this is especially remarkable in the case of the Coyotes, who have had 33 years to accomplish the feat, dating back to their days as the retro-Jets. And yet they've never once had the privilege of raising a division title banner. Not the Pacific. Not the old Central. Not the Norris. Not the Smythe. It's never happened. Heck, they've only finished in second place six times.

Think about that the next time you gripe about how long it's been since your team last won the Cup.

Though the Coyotes knew the Division title was only a win away after their Friday night win over the St. Louis Blues, they weren't making much of their place in the history heading into Saturday's action. Keith Yandle indicated they wanted it, but that was about it. From Reuters:

"It's an honor and a privilege to be in the playoffs but our goal is to win the division," Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle told reporters. "It's something that we have to embrace and get those two points.

Meanwhile, Dave Tippett took all the fun out of it by being practical and focusing on its implications for the future rather than the past:

"It's home ice in the playoffs," Tippett said. "We've been talking about this for a long time, that we want to build to be a playoff team. We put ourselves in a position to do that."

Note: Dave Tippett's quotes play a Dave Tippett system.

But while the Coyotes are too focused on their first-round playoff matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks to make a big deal about this historic win now, they'll certainly make something of it next October, when the franchise gets to raise a division title banner for the first time in their history.

It adds a unique wrinkle to the Coyotes' problems with finding a new owner: Will the opening night banner-raising ceremony even take place in Glendale?

I guess what I'm saying is, if you're a company that screen prints on banners in Florida or Phoenix -- or heck, even if you're in Quebec City, Kansas City, Saskatoon, or Seattle -- prepare a pitch. Quote them high, too. They don't know the market.

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