GLENDALE – In a season in which they lost their captain, their starting goalie and their shutdown center because of various injuries/illnesses for long stretches, the Coyotes are fortunate they had center Antoine Vermette to help keep the team in the playoff hunt until the season’s final weekend.
|Photo by Norm Hall. |
Vermette led the team in goals (24) and ranked sixth with 45 points. Beyond those popular stats, he was a workhorse in every zone, along the boards and in the face-off circles. That’s why the team’s broadcast media, along with several beat writers, voted him Phoenix’s Most Valuable Player for 2013-14.
"I’m very grateful about that," Vermette said after the season finale. "I’m pleased with the way I played. I try to grow my game in different areas of the game and yeah, it was a successful year for me. But (there’s a) bad taste, too. You want to do it and win. Ultimately you want to be successful as a team and we didn’t do it."
In addition to leading the team in goals, Vermette led the forwards in ice time, blocked shots and face-off winning percentage. Because of this (and other reasons), Head Coach Dave Tippett often lobbied for Vermette to be considered for the Selke Trophy, and Coyotes fans voted Vermette – in a landslide - the team’s Hardest Working Player via an internet election.
"That’s means a lot, too," Vermette said. "I certainly appreciate that… As a fan, when I was watching games, I always respected that from the guys that play hard. I try to bring that every night. So, I’m glad the fans saw that."
For a player who plays so much, and so hard, Vermette’s durability is astonishing. He played all 82 games for the Coyotes this season and he will enter 2014-15 with a 393 consecutive games played streak.
"Good centermen are hard to find," Tippett said during the season. "And he’s a good player (who) plays in all situations. He’s fit in very well with our group."
Vermette’s key stats:
• Ranked 1st on team with 24 goals
• Ranked 1st on team with 3 short-handed goals
• Ranked 1st on team and 9th in NHL with a 56.4 face-off percentage
• Ranked 1st on team and 2nd in NHL with 1,005 face-off wins
• Ranked 1st on team and 4th in NHL with 144 shorthanded face-off wins
• Ranked 1st among Coyotes forwards with 71 blocked shots
• Ranks 1st among Coyotes forwards in ice time with 19:12 per game