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The Desert Dog Blog: Coyotes Face Unique Off-Season

Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 2:44 PM / The Desert Dog Blog - by Dave Vest
By Dave Vest
GLENDALE – The ice inside Jobing.com Arena is gone and the Coyotes players have scattered for the off-season. It’s been only three days since the season ended abruptly with a loss to Detroit in the Western Conference Quarterfinals and already I’m eager for training camp to start. So are the players. Getting swept in the first round is not how they wanted to end a 99-point season.

Don Maloney on Friday morning. Photo by Norm Hall.
Thanks to the ongoing owenership situation, it will certainly be a unique off-season for the coaches, the players, the staff and the fans. Hang in there.

“This won't drag into June,” General Manager Don Maloney said on Friday. “You know it and I know it. Well, maybe you don't know it, but I do. This has to be resolved in the weeks ahead or in a month – and they're working very hard to find alternatives to make this work.”

• Many of the team’s key contributors from this season’s team already are signed for 2011-12 including Shane Doan, Ray Whitney, Martin Hanzal, Adrian Aucoin and Lee Stempniak.

But Maloney has work to do in the off-season, for sure.

Nine of the players on the playoff roster are set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1: They are goalies Ilya Bryzgalov and Jason LaBarbera; forwards Eric Belanger, Andrew Ebbett, Vernon Fiddler, Ryan Hollweg and Radim Vrbata; and defensemen Ed Jovanovski and Nolan Yonkman.

Five players from the playoff roster are set to become restricted free agents on July 1. They are defenseman Keith Yandle; and forwards Mikkel Boedker, Lauri Korpikoski, Brett MacLean and Kyle Turris.

Re-signing Bryzgalov and Yandle are the priorities.

“I love this place,” Bryzgalov told reporters before leaving for the off-season. “It's a good place to live and a good place to play…. I (will) enjoy the summer right now and make the decision a little bit later.”

Keith Yandle. Photo by Getty Images.
• Many people around the Coyotes are expecting Yandle’s name to be announced when the three finalists for the Norris Trophy are revealed by the NHL on Monday at 9 a.m. (Arizona time).

Yandle posted career highs in (48) assists and points (59) and was a plus-12. His 59 points ranked third among NHL defensemen; he trailed only Anaheim’s Lubomir Visnovsky (68) and Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom (62).

“I thought I was just going to come in and play a good role and play solid but I remember talking to “Doaner” and him telling me at the beginning of the year that he wants me to win the Norris and be like a Duncan Keith,” Yandle said. “I kind of looked at him a little funny because I didn’t know if I had it in myself (to do that). Good thing I listened to him.”

He added, “Just being mentioned for the Norris is a great honor. Who knows what’s going to happen but it’s still a great honor.”

Derek Morris
• The Coyotes on Friday revealed that defenseman Derek Morris missed the series vs. Detroit because of a concussion he suffered after absorbing an elbow to the chin during a game against San Jose late in the regular season.

“He skated once during the series (and) was feeling pretty good,” Tippett said. “He had gone through the protocol of a bike ride and then had a hard skate, and had some issues that night after the hard skate and got set back again.”

• Hobey Baker Award winner Andy Miele, who signed with the Coyotes just before the Stanley Cup Playoffs began, is going to play for Team USA at the 2011 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia. The annual tournament runs from April 29 to May 15.

Several other Coyotes players also will compete for their countries in that tournament; formal announcements will be made next week.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Reach Dave Vest at thedesertdogblog@phoenixcoyotes.com and follow him on Twitter @davest4yotes.
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