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TEN HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2008-09

by Russell Brooks | Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes
The 2008-09 season reached its conclusion earlier this week after Coyotes players met with coaches and management, took their year-end physicals, cleaned out their lockers and scattered until training camp in September.


Here are 10 highlights from the 2008-09 season.

A CAREER YEAR FOR THE CAPTAIN

Shane Doan gets a hug from his daughter Gracie during the Elimination Shootout competition. (Photo by Ryan Remiorz/AP).
Shane Doan again showed many reasons why he is the captain of the Coyotes in 2008-09. Playing his 13th NHL season, Doan scored a career-high 31 goals and led the team in points (73) for a fifth consecutive season.

He also made a second appearance in the NHL All-Star Game in Montréal where he won the Elimination Shootout at the All-Star Superskills competition. http://cdn.nhl.com/images/upload/2009/01/vid_icon.gif Watch it here

In addition, Doan was named the team's MVP, and in the last game of the season he tied former captain Keith Tkachuk for third overall on the franchise's all-time points list (623).

Beyond the stats, Doan continued to be the face of the franchise and its workhorse on offense. On several occasions, he seemingly willed the Coyotes to victory. Fans voted his game-winning goal vs. San Jose on March 17 as the play of the year. http://cdn.nhl.com/images/upload/2009/01/vid_icon.gif Watch it here.

“Shane comes to work every day, he is a real pro, he is an example,” Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney said. “It was great that he had an All-Star type season...We need more players like him."

'Z' EARNS 'A' IN BLOCKING SHOTS

While Doan was the workhorse on offense, Zbynek Michalek quietly provided stability on defense and sacrificed his body. Michalek led the NHL with 271 blocked shots. Despite acquiring plenty of bumps and bruises along the way, Michalek never complanied and played all 82 games.

Zbynek Michalek blocks a shot vs. Edmonton.
“Anytime you are the best in something it feels good,” Michalek said. “It’s nice getting a little more recognition and putting my name out there. I have been pretty happy with my season. It can always be better.”

For his efforts, Michalek, who also chipped in six goals and 21 assists, was named the team's Hardest Working Player and was nominated for the 2009 Masterton Trophy, which is awarded annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.

NEWCOMERS MAKE IMPACT

Maloney acquired Matthew Lombardi, Brandon Prust, Scottie Upshall, Dmitri Kalinin, Nigel Dawes and Petr Prucha just before the trade deadline on March 4, and the team posted a 9-8-2 record over the last 19 games. http://cdn.nhl.com/images/upload/2009/01/vid_icon.gif Watch Gretzky discuss the trades here.

Scottie Upshall
Upshall, Lombardi and Prucha put up solid numbers playing together on the same line. Upshall scored eight goals in the 19 games. In 55 games with Philadelphia before the trade, Upshall notched seven goals.
“It was a great opportunity coming here with some new faces,” Upshall said. “As the season dwindled down, I felt the energy was there and I was playing with some great players. Lombardi and Prucha were two hard workers playing with a lot of skill and passion. I thought our line clicked. It was nice to win some games and show some promise for next year.”

Lombardi scored five goals and added 11 assists in 19 games. Prucha chipped in two goals and eight assists.

THIRD JERSEY UNVEILED

On Nov. 22, the Coyotes unveiled a third jersey, which the team wore 16 times in 2008-09.

The Coyotes turned to New York-based branding firm SME to assist in the strategic branding and design of the jersey and related components. The goal of the initiative was to create a new look that gave Coyotes fans some elements they hadn’t seen in the uniform before.

Fans quickly snatched up the new sweaters, and in a phoenixcoyotes.com poll in November 41 percent of the respondents voted the new black jersey their favorite among the team's three jerseys.

http://cdn.nhl.com/images/upload/2009/01/vid_icon.gif Watch the jersey unveiling video here.


WINNING AT HOME

The Coyotes finished the season with a 23-15-3 record at Jobing.com Arena. The 23 home victories were the most in a season for Phoenix since the 2001-02 campaign when the club recorded a franchise-record 27 wins at home. The Coyotes ended the regular season by going 6-1-1 in their final eight games in Glendale.

“It was the opposite of a year ago,” Gretzky said. “...This year, we have been completely different. Even some of the games we have lost have been some tough losses in this building. Overall, our play here has been solid.”

BOEDKER'S ROOKIE SEASON

The Coyotes selected forward Mikkel Boedker with the eighth overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft in June. Four months later, the 18-year-old was playing in the NHL.

The young Dane made great strides in his first season, during which he notched 11 goals and 17 assists in 78 games. In January, he was picked to play in the NHL YoungStars Game in Montréal during All-Star weekend.

http://cdn.nhl.com/images/upload/2009/01/vid_icon.gif  Watch's Boedker's most impressive goal of the season here.

“The highlights have to be making the team, having a lot of fun and learning how to be an NHL player,” Boedker said. “The YoungStars experience was a lot of fun and totally unexpected. Everything was a really fun experience this season. I am really happy and proud to be a part of this organization.”

PLENTY OF FIRSTS

Multiple Coyotes accomplished noteworthy NHL firsts this season.

• Defenseman David Hale scored his first NHL goal on Nov. 26 against Columbus in his 231st career game. http://cdn.nhl.com/images/upload/2009/01/vid_icon.gif Watch it here.

• Center Martin Hanzal notched his first NHL hat trick on Dec. 4 against Toronto. http://cdn.nhl.com/images/upload/2009/01/vid_icon.gif Watch his third goal here.

• Kyle Turris scored his first NHL goal against Anaheim on Oct. 12. http://cdn.nhl.com/images/upload/2009/01/vid_icon.gif Watch it here.

• Boedker played his first NHL game on Oct. 11 against Columbus and scored his first NHL goal against Anaheim on Oct. 12. http://cdn.nhl.com/images/upload/2009/01/vid_icon.gif Watch it here.

• Tikhonov played his first NHL game on Oct. 11 against Columbus and scored his first NHL goal on Nov. 9 against the San Jose Sharks, the team he grew up watching. http://cdn.nhl.com/images/upload/2009/01/vid_icon.gif Watch it here.

• Goalies Josh Tordjman and Al Montoya made their NHL debuts on March 8 and April 1, respectively.

TIKHONOV'S RARE FEAT

Rookie Viktor Tikhonov had the rare distinction of being credited with a goal and a minor penalty at the exact same time in the team's victory over Vancouver on March 21.

(Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images.)
During a delayed penalty, Tikhonov was the last Coyotes player to make contact with the puck before an errant clearing pass was inadvertently knocked backward by Canucks defenseman Shane O'Brien and into Vancouver's empty net. As a result, Tikhonov was credited with a goal and a hooking minor. http://cdn.nhl.com/images/upload/2009/01/vid_icon.gif Watch it here.

Since 1989-90, there have been only three other instances in which a player was credited with an unassisted, empty-net goal and a penalty at the same time.

"I was actually wondering if it counts or not,” Tikhonov said with a smile after the game. “I didn't know whether I should celebrate or not."

MONTOYA MAKES HISTORY

Montoya became the first goalie in Coyotes/Jets franchise history to record a shutout in his NHL debut when he stopped all 23 shots he faced in Phoenix's 3-0 win at Colorado on April 1.

The next night, Montoya backstopped the Coyotes to a 2-1 home victory over Los Angeles. In his fourth start, Montoya made 40 saves at San Jose to finish his brief stint with a 3-1-0 record and a 2.08 goal-against average.

“I felt like I was prepared to play and ready to go when I got the call,” Montoya said. “It has been a fun ride. I came out here with the purpose of giving the team a chance to win every time I was in the net and I feel like I did that for the most part. It has been exciting. Hopefully I can roll it into next season.”

BEATING THE BEST

The Coyotes thrived when they played the elite teams in the NHL. Against the four top teams in the league - San Jose, Boston, Detroit and Washington - Phoenix earned 13 of a possible 24 points.

Against their Pacific Division rivals, the Coyotes posted a 13-9-2 record.


EDITOR'S NOTE: Coyotes TV/Radio Host Todd Walsh spoke to Head Coach Wayne Gretzky about the 2008-09 season. Listen to Walsh's interview with Gretzky here http://cdn.nhl.com/images/upload/2009/01/aud_icon.gif (courtesy of gretzky.com).
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