GLENDALE – In a season in which they lost their captain, their starting goalie and their shutdown center because of various injuries/illnesses for long stretches, the Coyotes are fortunate they had center Antoine Vermette to help keep the team in the playoff hunt until the season’s final weekend.
Vermette led the team in goals (24) and ranked sixth with 45 points. Beyond those popular stats, he was a workhorse in every zone, along the boards and in the face-off circles. That’s why the team’s broadcast media, along with several beat writers, voted him Phoenix’s Most Valuable Player for 2013-14.
"I’m very grateful about that," Vermette said after the season finale. "I’m pleased with the way I played. I try to grow my game in different areas of the game and yeah, it was a successful year for me. But (there’s a) bad taste, too. You want to do it and win. Ultimately you want to be successful as a team and we didn’t do it."
In addition to leading the team in goals, Vermette led the forwards in ice time, blocked shots and face-off winning percentage. Because of this (and other reasons), Head Coach Dave Tippett often lobbied for Vermette to be considered for the Selke Trophy, and Coyotes fans voted Vermette – in a landslide - the team’s Hardest Working Player via an internet election.
"That’s means a lot, too," Vermette said. "I certainly appreciate that… As a fan, when I was watching games, I always respected that from the guys that play hard. I try to bring that every night. So, I’m glad the fans saw that."
For a player who plays so much, and so hard, Vermette’s durability is astonishing. He played all 82 games for the Coyotes this season and he will enter 2014-15 with a 393 consecutive games played streak.
"Good centermen are hard to find," Tippett said during the season. "And he’s a good player (who) plays in all situations. He’s fit in very well with our group."
Vermette’s key stats:
• Ranked 1st on team with 24 goals
• Ranked 1st on team with 3 short-handed goals
• Ranked 1st on team and 9th in NHL with a 56.4 face-off percentage
• Ranked 1st on team and 2nd in NHL with 1,005 face-off wins
• Ranked 1st on team and 4th in NHL with 144 shorthanded face-off wins
• Ranked 1st among Coyotes forwards with 71 blocked shots
• Ranks 1st among Coyotes forwards in ice time with 19:12 per game
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