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by Staff Writer / Arizona Coyotes

By: Chad Lynch

On Saturday morning the Phoenix Coyotes made headlines across North America with the signing of free agent defenseman Ed Jovanovski. 

Jovanovski was one of the highest profile free agents on the market and there were no shortage of teams trying to acquire the three-time all-star's services, but in the end it was the Coyotes who were able to offer the best fit.

"...the decision was a no-brainer."
Ed Jovanovski on deciding to sign with the Phoenix Coyotes

"There was obviously some (different) opportunities and I looked at every situation and I liked the opportunity to be coached by the best player that ever played the game," said Jovanovski referring to Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky.  "I liked their defensive corp.  They have solid goaltending with a great group of forwards and I think the team has really good potential to become a solid playoff team and hopefully in the time I'm there, win a championship."

Jovanovski will bring a physically punishing style of play to his own end, while adding a new offensive threat from the blueline, making the already talented and versatile defensive unit of the Coyotes, one of the best in the league.

"My game is going up the ice and helping out my forwards by giving them that option and creating as much offense as I can from the back-end," said Jovanovski".  "Having said that, you always want to concentrate on your defensive zone and give your goaltender some help.

"You look at a guy like Derek Morris, who is a similar type of player, then you have (Keith) Ballard, who had an unbelievable season last year as a rookie as did (Zbynek) Michalek and the acquisition of Nick Boynton, a solid two-way defenseman and you need that balance on the back-end."

Just as important as his on-ice abilities was the fact that Jovanovski fit with the team's chemistry and will be able to provide a strong presence inside the locker room.

"I felt in looking at the roster that this was a great fit for me," said Jovanovski.  "I am going to assume a leadership role going to this team and will be looked to help in that area and get to the next level.  I know that Phoenix is going to try and make a push and make their team better and I just want to be a part of it."

With Saturday's addition of one of the game's premiere defensemen, the Coyotes are now poised to make a serious run at the playoffs next season and perhaps their first Pacific Division title.

"I think they are right there knocking on the doorstep," said Jovanovski.  "With the younger players they have, the Michalek's and Ballard's, these guys are now one year older and will feel that much more comfortable on the ice.

"I think that what the players want out of each other is accountability and that is a trait that needs to be there for a team to be successful and I feel everyone is willing to do that here, from the management to the players."

In many cases, a player's time as an unrestricted free agent can be a stressful one.  Weighing multiple offers, moving a family and trying to give yourself the best chance at winning a Stanley Cup, but in Jovanovski's case, the decision was an easy one.

"With the persistence and overwhelming reaction that Michael Barnett, Cliff Fletcher and Wayne Gretzky were giving me and my family, the decision was a no-brainer," said Jovanovski.  "I am really, really excited to play for Wayne, play in the Phoenix market, help get the Coyotes back into the playoffs and see those white t-shirts up in the stands.

"At the end of the day you have to make the best decision for you and your family and I think I made a great one in going to Phoenix."

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