The big news surrounding the Phoenix Coyotes this past offseason was the end of a four-year ownership saga when IceArizona, headed by George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc, purchased the team from the NHL.
That new-found stability allowed general manager Don Maloney to be a little more aggressive in the free agent market. Maloney was able to land free agent center Mike Ribeiro, who inked a four-year deal in July.
“We never would have had a chance to get him without having ownership in place,” head coach Dave Tippett told Doug and Wolf Friday morning on Arizona Sports 620.
Ribeiro, 33, ranked fifth in the league in assists (36) last season and averaged more than a point per game for the Washington Capitals.
“He’s a high-skill player,” Tippett continued. “We’ve had solid teams, we’ve had really good, hard-working teams, but the one aspect of our game that we’ve been lacking a little bit is the high skill, especially at center ice.
“Mike, he’s our smallest player in camp, but he’s probably the most clever with the puck. When the center iceman has that much skill and has the puck that much, it helps out the other forwards — it helps out everybody on the ice.”
By comparison, Mikkel Boedker led Coyotes’ forwards with only 19 assists last season. Now with Ribeiro in the fold, Boedker and others should benefit from his on-ice generosity.
“The first day of camp, when we had (Ribeiro) on a line with Mikkel Boedker and Shane Doan, and the line looked great,” Tippett said. “Hopefully they can build some chemistry, but the one thing that Mike does is he’s high-skill and he can make other players around him better and that’s one of the elements we feel like our group was missing.”
The Coyotes open up their seven-game preseason schedule Sunday night against the Los Angeles Kings at Jobing.com Arena. The game can be heard on Arizona Sports 620, with face-off at 7:00.