YANICK LEHOUX JOINS COYOTES
By: Chad Lynch
On Monday, forward Yanick Lehoux put on a Phoenix Coyotes sweater for the first time as he stepped on the ice for his first practice since being claimed off waiver from Los Angeles on Saturday.
While the past few days have been a whirlwind for Lehoux, he happy to a member of the Coyotes and anxious to prove himself on the ice.
I just want to play my best and have everything go well," said Lehoux.
After spending three seasons in the Kings organization, Lehoux rejected his qualifying offer from Los Angeles last year after learning that he was not going to be given a shot at the NHL level.
"When I talked to the Kings a year ago I told them that I had received an offer to play in Russia, but that I really wanted a chance at this level," said Lehoux. "After three seasons in the minors, I just wanted a shot and they told me that I would spend another season in the AHL, so I instead signed with Dynamo Moscow in Russia.
"I really wanted a shot at this level and last year the Kings weren't ready to give me that chance," said Lehoux. "I just wanted a chance and I said just give me a little rope. If I hang myself with it, we'll deal with that, but at least give me the chance."
Last week the Kings were finally able to sign Lehoux but since he had played a game after October 5th of this year, he had to clear through waivers before he could be sent Los Angeles' AHL affiliate in Manchester. It was then at the Coyotes made the claim to bring Lehoux to Phoenix.
"At the time, I was on my way home from Zurich, Switzerland and my parents got the call," said Lehoux. "When they met me at the airport, my mom was wearing a Coyotes sweater and I couldn't believe it. I was so excited."
"Like so many others, Lehoux grew up with Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky as his hero. Now he has the chance to learn under his guidance.
"It is funny how things work out," said Lehoux. "I am lucky to be coached by my hero. Last week I was watching a DVD on Wayne and now I am being coached by him."
Lehoux's goal now is to show that he has the skill to play at the NHL level and the Phoenix coaching staff assured the rookie that his play would determine where he ended up.
"They told me that as long as I play well, I'll stick around," said Lehoux. "So that is what I intend to do."