Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney hopes defenseman Rostislav Klesla can regain his NHL form as he plays for the team’s American Hockey League affiliate – the Portland Pirates – in the coming days.
“We’re not closing the door and saying goodbye, so long and farewell to Rusty,” Maloney told the Coyotes Radio Network before Wednesday’s game at Minnesota. “… But we need him to be better. Rusty is not up to the tempo we need him to be at to be a productive player.”
The Coyotes placed Klesla on waivers on Tuesday and he cleared without being claimed by another NHL team. He was then assigned to the AHL on Wednesday and will report there on Friday.
The Coyotes reacalled defenseman Connor Murphy from the AHL on Wednesday to replace Klesla on the roster.
Maloney characterized Klesla’s demotion as a message to all players.
“It’s not by default that veterans get into the lineup,” Maloney said.
Head Coach Dave Tippett echoed Maloney when asked about Klesla before Wednesday’s game.
“He came into camp in pretty good shape and got hurt, missed some time, came back and starting playing, got hurt again and missed some time,” Tippett said. “Hopefully this is an opportunity for him to go down and play a lot of minutes and see if he can get his game back in order and if that’s the case, he can be a helpful player on our team. But we just need him to be playing at a higher level.”