The last time center Martin Hanzal
inked a contract with the Coyotes he was driving out of state for a mini-vacation and had to pull over and sign the deal at a service station along I-17.
On Thursday, Hanzal took a more conventional approach by signing a five-year contract extension with the team inside Jobing.com Arena moments after practice.
"I feel awesome right now,” Hanzal said about his new deal, which will begin after this season. “I know I will be here for the next six years, including this one, so it’s great… I love it in Phoenix, I love the team and I love the coaches. I want to stay here as long as I can so we came up with the five-year deal. I think it’s a good number for them and for me, too."
Hanzal has played his entire career with the Coyotes, the team that selected him in 2005 with the 17th overall pick of the NHL Entry Draft. In 288 games, Hanzal has notched 46 goals and 79 assists.
Playing in the Pacific Division, the Coyotes need a center with Hanzal’s skills and size to match up against opponents such as San Jose’s Joe Thornton, Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf and LA’s Anze Kopitar.
“I’m a big Hanzal fan,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “I think he’s a guy that touches a lot of parts of the game that make you win… He’s a player of similar importance to us as Keith Yandle
. Our organization is trying to get better and move forward, and any time you can put key people in place like that, that’s a very good thing. We’re very happy to have him on board.”
With his new contract in pocket, Hanzal is excited to start the 2011-12 season on Saturday at San Jose.
“I think we have a better team than last year so we’ve got to prove that to the fans and to the coaches and to everyone,” Hanzal said. EDITOR'S NOTE:
Contact Dave Vest at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @davest4yotes.