Arizona Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata celebrates his game-winning goal against the New York Islanders during the shootout on Jan. 7, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. The Coyotes defeated the Islanders 2-1. ROSS D. FRANKLIN / AP

Arizona Coyotes Name Radim Vrbata Alternate Captain

Published On March 2, 2017 | By Jason Harrison | News

Radim Vrbata will be the Arizona Coyotes newest alternate captain after the departure of Martin Hanzal to the Wild.

Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka decided to hang onto Radim Vrbata at the trade deadline when he didn’t receive a suitable offer.

Shortly afterward, the team rewarded the veteran Coyote with a little more responsibility.

Vrbata will now join the team’s leadership group as one of the few veteran voices left on the squad.

The move comes as a bit of a surprise if you have followed the Vrbata saga.

There have been trade rumors swirling around him for more than a month, and just yesterday analysts predicted he would very likely be dealt before the trade deadline. That wasn’t quite how it played out, however, and Vrbata was thrilled to stay in Arizona.

The presumed heir apparent to Martin Hanzal‘s alternate captainship appeared to be budding star Max Domi, however that move will be on hold for the rest of the season at the very least. Should Shane Doan retire as many expect, perhaps then Domi or even someone like Jordan Martinook could move into the leadership as group if Oliver Ekman-Larsson assumes the captaincy.

Regardless of the future makeup of the roster and it’s leadership, Radim Vrbata is a very deserving candidate.

Across seven seasons in the desert, Vrby has tallied 152 goals and 183 assists for 335 points in 490 games. He’s been very productive for the Arizona Coyotes, and he’s been a consummate pro. Though he did depart the team in free agency on two separate occasions, Vrbata has gone on the record saying he had always preferred to stay in Arizona.

“Every time I was a free agent, I always wanted to get it done with Phoenix and for some reason it didn’t happen so we had to go with different options. I never even wanted to let it get to free agency so when that happened, I still always checked if there was one last option not to leave.”

With his statement yesterday that he planned to re-sign in the offseason, making him an official part of the team’s leadership group makes sense.

He’ll be here as several more kids get their first taste of NHL action.

He has a wealth of experience and is nearing 1,000 games played. Not only has he been around the block, he’s also been a good player throughout his career so he’s someone the kids will respect and listen to.

Max Domi and the other young guns will get their chance to the mold the team and that time isn’t far off.

For now, Radim Vrbata is a stable presence who can help the team through what’s shaping up to be a very difficult final month of hockey.