GLENDALE – When defenseman Nicklas Grossmann got the news he’d been traded to the Coyotes over the weekend he was shocked at first, but then excitement set in as he recognized he’d be reunited with Head Coach Dave Tippett.
"I enjoy playing for him," Grossmann said of Tippett. "He stands for a disciplined team game with a focus on good defense and speed. He’s a great coach and I’m excited to be reunited with him. It’s a great opportunity for me to excel and contribute to the Coyotes as much as I can."
The Coyotes acquired Grossmann, who played for Tippett with Dallas from 2006-09, just after the NHL Draft on Saturday in exchange for forward Sam Gagner and a conditional draft pick.
The move pleased Tippett.
"He's a solid teammate, a very honest player. And from a coaching standpoint, he's not a guy you're worried about being prepared," Tippett told FOX Sports Arizona. "Nick defends with position and smarts and he's big enough to eliminate people. We need to have a good mix on our blue line, and a left-handed penalty-kill guy is something we've been missing."
At 30 years old Grossmann is, by far, the senior member of Arizona’s defensive corps, and the Coyotes are expecting the Swede to be a leader to up-and-coming defenders such as Klas Dahlbeck, Michael Stone and Connor Murphy.
"It feels good (to be looked upon as a leader)," Grossmann said. "I can try to use my experience to help out as much as I can on and off the ice."
Grossmann is eager to become teammates with Coyotes All-Star defenseman/fellow Swede Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He said they are somewhat familiar with each other but he's looking forward to getting to know the 23-year-old much better.
"He’s such a great player with great offensive skills, and he excels in a lot of areas," Grossmann said. "It's hard to put into words just how good he is. I’m excited to play with him and to get to know him better."
|Nicklas Grossmann. Photo by Getty Images. |
Grossmann also is looking forward to being reunited with Coyotes goalie Mike Smith. The two were teammates with Dallas under Tippett and in the American Hockey League with the Iowa Stars in 2005-06, early in their journeys to becoming NHL players.
"I’ve been traded before," said Grossmann, who was sent to Philadelphia by Dallas in the middle of the 2011-12 season. "It’s going to take a little time to meet the boys but having people I know around like Tippett and Mike Smith will help me make the transition. It will be fun to reunite with them but I’m also excited to meet new teammates, too. Starting from scratch with a new team at training camp instead of in the middle of the season will also help."
The Dallas Stars drafted Grossmann with the 56th overall pick of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He has played 531 NHL games since breaking into the League with the Stars in 2006-07. In those games he notched 10 goals and 69 assists. Playing for Philadelphia last season, Grossmann notched a career-high five goals and 14 points in 68 games.
Grossmann's last name is an interesting story. For the first seven years of his NHL career it was spelled, incorrectly, on sweaters, rosters, etc., with just one 'n' at the end. In 2012, Grossmann revealed to reporters that it's actually spelled "Grossmann."
"I guess when I was young coming up I didn't want to say anything," Grossmann told reporters at the time it was corrected. "That's the way they put it on the shirt, and I just was going with it. I was just happy to have a jersey with my name on it."