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by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes
GLENDALE -- Defenseman Ed Jovanovski is playing a key role in the early-season success of the Coyotes.

Jovanovski’s toughness and reliability in the Phoenix and neutral zones have been extremely noticeable, and his 10 points in the first 13 games rank tied for the team lead with captain Shane Doan.

“In this game, sometimes I think less is more,” Jovanovski said. “I’m just finding spots to jump in and I’ve been getting a lot of power-play time, but nothing has really changed for me. I’m just being aggressive and trying to be physical and that really gets me into the game. I think that’s been the biggest thing for me this year.”
Ed Jovanovski

Jovanovski is hoping people in high places with Team Canada are noticing his performance and will allow him to play his way onto its 2010 Olympic roster. He did not participate in Team Canada’s Olympic orientation camp in the off-season.

“It’s one of those things where I’d like to open up some eyes and maybe have that opportunity to play again,” said Jovanovski, who helped Canada win a gold medal at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City and who earned a roster spot in 2006 before backing out because of injury. “Having the opportunity to play in Vancouver would be an unbelievable experience. It’s in the back of my mind and I’m doing everything possible to maybe open some eyes and see where that goes.”

Jovanovski, the first overall pick of the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, is thriving under the highly-structured system of new Head Coach Dave Tippett.

“Tip’s been around for a long time and he’s got that experience as a coach,” Jovanovski said. “In his system, I think each individual on this team knows what his role is. That’s always a good thing. When you’ve got a guy on the third or fourth line, you’re not looking at him to score 20 goals. You want him to pitch in and contribute offensively, but more so you want him to play hard and make it tough on other teams, and I think that’s one thing that our team has going for it right now. We’ve got our roles and guys are playing them and playing them well.”

Having coached against Jovanovski for many years as an assistant coach in Los Angeles and then a head coach in Dallas, Tippett knew about Jovanovski’s skills. What he quickly discovered while coaching Jovanovski in Phoenix is that he has a commanding presence around his teammates off the ice.

“The one thing I didn’t know was how vocal he is,” Tippett said. “He’s a vocal guy in the dressing room… and with Jovo it’s not just what you say, it’s what you do. He’s backing up what he says by his play, and that’s the best kind of leadership you can have.”

Regarding Jovanovski’s offensive production, Tippett said:

“I expect all of our defensemen to score points, and he’s a guy that has the ability to do that. He has hard skills. He’s hard on rebounds and he gets to pucks around the net. It’s not a fancy play, it’s a play that gets done because he’s willing to do it with a sense of urgency. He’s been a factor in every game for us.”

Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek has been paired with Jovanovski a lot this season.

"Jovo has started the season really well and that's good because we are really counting on him," Michalek said. "He is playing hard every single shift and he is giving his all every single day whether we are playing a game or not. What else can you ask for?"

The Coyotes are 9-4-0 and appear headed in the right direction. But as an alternate captain should, Jovanovski often reminds his teammates that they haven’t accomplished anything yet.

“We’re not thrilled with our start,” Jovanovski said. “It’s been pretty good but I think we can be better. There’s still a lot of hockey left. I think the big thing is for us to try to be as consistent as possible. We have to stay in the moment and worry about what’s in front of us in the next few hours and nothing beyond that.”

Those are serious words, but make no mistake. The 33-year-old veteran is having a good time this season and it’s showing in his play.

“I’m having as much fun now as I’ve had at any time during my time in the NHL,” Jovanovski said. “I think any day that you get to spend in the NHL and do something you love is a great day. I don’t take my job for granted. I appreciate what I do and I take pride in what I do. I talk to all my buddies away from hockey and they’d love to switch shoes so, yeah, I’m having a blast. I come to the rink every day with a smile on my face.”

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