Defenseman Michal Rozsival
is eager to make his debut with the Coyotes. It may happen tonight.
“I’m excited to be here,” Rozsival said. “…It’s a fresh start for me. It looks like we’ve got a good group of guys here. Everyone is helping me out here, trying to make the transition a little easier. I’m really excited.”
The Coyotes acquired the 32-year-old native of Vlasim, Czech Republic, in a trade with the New York Rangers on Jan. 10. Rozsival, who was swapped for forward Wojtek Wolski, has yet to play for Phoenix because of an upper-body injury he suffered before the deal. He has been skating with his new teammates the past few days and is close to being ready for a game. Rozsival might play tonight when the Coyotes host Nashville at Jobing.com Arena to complete a four-game homestand because of injuries to other defensemen.
Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney knows Rozsival well from his time in New York’s front office.
“It’s not a good feeling to be traded, but if you look at it from a different point of view, he (Maloney) wants me here,” Rozsival said. “Donnie expressed to me that he was trying to trade for me earlier, and it really makes me feel good and I’ll try to do my best to help this team win.”
Before the trade, Rozsival played in 32 games for the Rangers this season and notched three goals and 12 assists. More importantly, he ranked third on the team in average ice time at 22:02 per game.
Rozsival describes himself as a gritty player who can be called upon to play many roles.
“I take pride in playing hard every single night,” Rozsival said. “Since I’ve been in the league I’ve played in all kinds of situations; power play, penalty kill, so I’m ready for anything here.”
Rozsival had friends waiting for him in the Coyotes dressing room when he arrived. He knows Derek Morris
and Lauri Korpikoski
from their days in Rangers sweaters. He also knows fellow Czechs Martin Hanzal
and Radim Vrbata
Rozsival and Vrbata train together with a professional club in the Czech Republic in the summers just before NHL training camps open.
Vrbata thinks Rozsival’s transition from the Rangers to the Coyotes will be an easy one.
“With the guys we have here, they will make it easy for him to blend in,” Vrbata said. “And he’s a great guy. He’ll be easy to blend in with as well.”
Hanzal, who played alongside Rozsival at the IIHF World Championship a few years back, says it’s a pleasure to have another player from their native country on the roster.
“I think he’s going to fit well on our team,” Hanzal said. “It’s always easier when you have a couple more friends from Czech on the team and you can talk to them (in Czech). I think it’s going to be great.”