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THE DESERT DOG BLOG: WELCOME BACK VRBATA

Tuesday, 07.21.2009 / 5:13 PM / The Desert Dog Blog - by Dave Vest
By Dave Vest
Welcome Back Vrbata.

Sorry, but I was a big fan of Vinnie Barbarino, Arnold Horshack and the rest of the Sweathogs when I was a kid, so I couldn’t resist the obvious pun.

As promised, the Coyotes added a proven NHL goal scorer on Tuesday when they acquired forward Radim Vrbata from the Tampa Bay Lightning for forward Todd Fedoruk and defenseman David Hale. I suppose RE-acquired is a better term. Vrbata, of course, scored a career-high 27 goals for Phoenix in the 2007-08 season and then signed a three-year, $9 million deal with Tampa Bay as an unrestricted free agent last summer. He ended up returning to the Czech Republic after 18 games reportedly because his wife was having a difficult pregnancy. He did not return to the Lightning in '08-09, and finished the season playing in his home country. In 440 NHL regular-season games, Vrbata, 28, has scored 105 goals.

“We know Radim very well and believe him to be a great fit for us,” Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney told me in an e-mail. “He falls into the same age bracket as Matthew Lombardi, Petr Prucha and Scottie Upshall – all players who are hitting their prime playing years. He has the talent to score 25-plus goals while being a solid penalty killer.”

Another reason Maloney wanted Vrbata back is because of his positive impact on younger players.

“He is a real pro who knows how to prepare for games and had a very positive influence on our younger player, especially Martin Hanzal, when he was with us in 2007-08,” Maloney said. “Radim found a home with us two seasons ago and we are pleased to welcome him back to Arizona.”

• Click here to listen to my interview with Radim Vrbata.


Daniel Winnik
The Coyotes and forward Daniel Winnik appeared before a salary arbiter on Tuesday morning in Toronto. The arbiter will render a decision later this week.

Maloney broke down the case like this: “We feel Dan had a poor season in 2008-09 and (his performance) does not warrant a significant increase in his salary. The Winnik camp believes, other than scoring points, Dan had a similar season to 2007-08 and should be compensated accordingly. Arbitration is a necessary evil to get a player under contract."

     

Here are Winnik’s primary stats for the past two seasons:

2008-09
Games: 49
Goals: 3
Assists: 4
Points: 7
Plus/Minus: +1
Penalty minutes: 63
Shots: 66

2007-08
Games: 79
Goals: 11
Assists: 15
Points: 26
Plus/Minus: -3
Penalty minutes: 25
Shots: 122

Winnik is the only Coyotes player who filed for salary arbitration. Well, sort of. Forward Nigel Dawes also filed for arbitration but the Coyotes avoided that case by placing Dawes on waivers last week. The Calgary Flames claimed Dawes and then signed him to a two-year deal on Tuesday.

I asked Maloney why he placed Dawes on waivers. He said that one reason was because he had been working on the Vrbata trade for a while and sensed it was imminent. He also said this:

“Nigel Dawes played poorly during his short time as a Coyote and he was looking for significantly more salary than we felt appropriate, given his performance with us,” Maloney said. “…Given how impressive Brett MacLean looked at our development camp, we wanted to create more roster flexibility … for Brett or any other young player to make our team in September.”


I am working on a photo gallery for phoenixcoyotes.com and I would like to invite all Coyotes fans to help me build it.

Here’s the deal: The premise of the photo gallery is to show pictures of Coyotes fans wearing Coyotes apparel while sitting or standing in front of a recognizable landmark worldwide. For example, if you have a photo of yourself wearing Coyotes apparel while standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon or atop the Empire State Building or kissing the Blarney Stone, please send it to thedesertdogblog@phoenixcoyotes.com as a .jpg file. (Also, please make sure you identify whoever is in the photo.) Once I have gathered enough photos for a photo gallery, I will post it.

Thanks for reading.

Dave
thedesertdogblog@phoenixcoyotes.com

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