On Wednesday, the Coyotes added one of the game's premier power forwards with the signing of free agent Owen Nolan. The addition of Nolan gives Phoenix an added threat in the offensive zone and an intimidating presence for the opposition.
Nolan spent the entire 2005-06 season rehabbing a knee injury he sustained while playing for Toronto. For a competitor like Nolan, having to watch a season of hockey from home was more than disappointing; it was painful.
"It was absolutely torture," said Nolan. "To know you are still capable of playing in the League and having to go through a couple surgeries and rehab, get close and think maybe you can contribute at the end of last season and then have to wait for this season to start before...it was frustrating. It was a lot of emotion, but I think the worst is behind now and I've got a fresh start."
As a member of the San Jose Sharks from 1996-2000, Nolan established himself as a constant scoring threat, averaging 27 goals and 58 points a season. He also became known as one of the toughest competitors to play against due to his punishing style of play and desire to win.
While Nolan's character and style of play seem to be a perfect fit for the Coyotes, numerous clubs around the league also sought after his services. But in the end, it was Phoenix's commitment to winning and Nolan's close relationship with General Manager Michael Barnett, which made the difference.
"First of all, I think they (the Coyotes) have a great team," said Nolan. "Depth wise they look very good and obviously I have some history with Mike (Barnett). I trust him a lot, being my old agent and now the general manager, just talking with him, I was really impressed and saw no reason not to go there."
In 2002, Nolan was selected by Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky to represent his country as a member of Team Canada at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. Now facing an opportunity to be coached by Gretzky, Nolan admitted that it did play a part in is decision to come to Phoenix.
"You got the greatest player in the world as your coach," said Nolan. "I look forward to being a part of that, getting to know him a little better and obviously being on his bench."
After missing all of last season, Nolan was eager to return to the NHL, but he also wanted to prove his worth and felt that by signing a one-year deal with the Coyotes, he was doing just that.
"That's all I wanted to do," said Nolan. "I appreciate the Coyotes believing in me and taking me in on their team, but at the same time, I want to show them that they won't regret it and hopefully things can expand from there in the future."
Nolan's appetite for winning certainly hasn't diminished and for him the question is not 'if the Coyotes will make the playoffs," but rather how far they will go.
"With the talent we have there and the character guys, making the playoffs should be the least of our worries," said Nolan. "We should be striving for more than just that."
The start of training camp less is than a month away, and Nolan is turning his attention to the coming season. He is healthy again and ready to help the Coyotes capture their first Pacific Division title in franchise history.
"I've had plenty of time to rest," said Nolan. "My knee feels great, I've been training like a mad-man and I'm excited and hungry to get back on the ice. I'm looking forward to day-one when I can get out on the ice and show everyone what I've got.
"I am going to come on the ice and play the way I play," said Nolan. "I'm not going to ease my way into it, I'm going to play physical and I'm going to score."