When the Phoenix Coyotes signed Mike Ribeiro to a four-year contract in July, the hope was he would bring some much-needed offensive punch to the club.
Ten games into the 2013-14 season he has done exactly that, leading the Coyotes with nine points. He is tied for second on the team with five goals, and he’s generally been everything the team could have asked for.
And as it turns out, Ribeiro’s teammate Shane Doan had basically asked for him.
“If I had had my choice of one free agent out of everyone that was a free agent in the summer, and I’ve said it over and over, it would have been Ribs,” Doan told Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo Wednesday. “Ribs is just…he’s just offense. He’s all about offense and we needed that more than anything.”
Indeed they did.
Last season, the Coyotes finished 21st in the NHL with an average of 2.52 goals scored per game. They were eighth in shots per game, but simply struggled to put the puck in the back of the net.
While it’s certainly premature to say Ribeiro has made the Coyotes’ offense a force to be reckoned with, thus far the team is 11th in the league with 3.10 goals per night while taking the seventh-most shots of anyone in the league.
So his impact is definitely tangible.
“He is a special offensive player and he couldn’t have been better designed for what we need,” Doan said. “He’s so important to our group and it’s so fun to see him play, too.
“He loves to score and it fits so well in with our group and just adds another dimension to our group that when we need something, he’s a guy that can contribute.”
Of course, it’s not just that Ribeiro is playing well that is exciting. The 33-year-old is the owner of 191 goals and 427 assists in his career, and is the type of player the Coyotes may not have been able to acquire under the previous ownership situation.
So that the team was able to go out and get a premier free agent, who is now producing like they thought he would, is something that has Doan excited for what’s happening in the desert.
“It’s one of those things that you kind of hope happens,” he said, adding that it seemed like everything was in place for the team when Ribeiro was available. “We just need one more thing, we need this one thing or that one thing, and then for Ribs to be available at the time.
“Not only that, he gives us credibility amongst other players. As a player, he’s so recognized around the league. After we signed him, all of a sudden you have two or three other guys saying, ‘Hey I’ll sign in Phoenix, I want to come to Phoenix’ because they know that offensively you’re going to get rewarded if you’re playing with him.”
“He’s a guy that has always been a pain in the side of our team when we played against him, and you knew how good he was,” Doan mused.
It’s early, but so far the move to Arizona is paying off for everyone.