GLENDALE – This week is a hectic one for the Coyotes with three home games in four nights sandwiched, if you will, around Thanksgiving.
It may evolve into a week in which more than one esteemed member of the team reaches a significant milestone in his career. They are listed below, in the order of likelihood they will/may be achieved during this busy three-game homestand.
• The next time he takes the ice, Zbynek Michalek will move into solo possession of third place on the franchise’s list of games played by a defenseman and eighth place among all players.
“It means a lot to play for one organization this long,” Michalek said. “I couldn’t be more grateful, and I feel I’m very lucky. This is a place I like to be and my family likes to be, and a team I like to play for. I went through a lot with this team. Hopefully I still have a few more years left.”
Michalek, 32, is tied with Keith Yandle at 558 games played. Randy Carlyle is second on the list for defensemen with 564 games, and Teppo Numminen is in first place, by a mile, with 1,098 games.
Michalek takes pride in his longevity mostly because he is an undrafted player who worked hard to make it to the NHL and stick.
“He’s a true professional,” defenseman Connor Murphy said. “He’s a guy that really takes care of his body and knows how to prepare himself for each game. All of our young defensemen really admire him for that and I think it’s a huge key to his longevity in the league and with this team.”
• Dave Tippett needs two wins to reach 500 as an NHL head coach.
Tippett has been a head coach since 2002-03 when he took over the Dallas Stars and led them to the playoffs five years in a row. He came to the Coyotes in 2009-10 and led them to the playoffs in his first three seasons, and won the Jack Adams Award in his first year.
Tippett politely dismissed a question about approaching the 500-win milestone on Monday.
“It’s just a number,” he said with a smile.
His players are more than willing to talk about his success.
“He’s a really good coach,” captain Shane Doan said. “He does a really good job of being precise in knowing what he wants and knowing how to explain it to people. It’s very important for everyone to be on the same page and he makes sure everyone is on the same page, and he does a really good job of reading his players and understanding what he needs to do for each one.”
Jordan Martinook agreed.
“Obviously when you approach a milestone like 500 wins in this league that’s very impressive because it’s not something a whole bunch of people do,” Martinook said. “I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Only two other NHL head coaches have won more games than Tippett since he became a head coach in the NHL: Mike Babcock (532) and Joel Quenneville (528).
• Doan needs five goals to tie and six to pass Dale Hawerchuk for first place on the franchise’s list for goals scored.
Doan, 39, has notched 374 goals, including six this season.
“He’s been a good goal scorer all throughout his career,” Tippett said. “He’s got a great shot and a great sense in front of the net. The thing about ‘Doaner’ is he doesn’t get many real easy goals. A lot of them are net-front, hard goals.”
Michalek has been Doan’s teammate for 558 games and he’s not surprised Doan will soon be the team’s top goal scorer.
“He doesn’t get enough credit (for goal scoring),” Michalek said. “Even at his age he’s still going strong and scoring big goals for us and playing hard every single night. He’s had just an amazing career and I’m glad he’ll soon be recognized for his goal scoring.”