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‘Yotes Notes: Wearing the ‘A’ is an honor and an NHL first for Radim Vrbata

Arizona Coyotes right wing Radim Vrbata (17) skates back to the bench after scoring a goal against Colorado Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard, left, during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Radim Vrbata had no idea the honor was coming.

Coyotes coach Dave Tippett was waiting to see how things shook out at the NHL’s trade deadline before he acted. Once he knew his understated right winger was staying put, he announced in front of the team that Vrbata would serve as the team’s alternate captain for the rest of the season, replacing Martin Hanzal, whom the Coyotes traded to Minnesota.

“Typical Vrby,” Tippett said Saturday after the team arrived home from its three-game road trip. “He was a little bashful about it. I think he likes to fly below the radar.”

Vrbata said this is the first time he has worn a permanent letter for an NHL team (he’s filled in for games when another player was out). He hasn’t worn a permanent letter since he represented the Czech Republic at the World Championships (the last time was 2013).

“Maybe they went just by age,” Vrbata quipped. “When you look at the list, there’s [Shane] Doaner, there’s me and nobody else is even close.

“It won’t change anything that I will do. I will still try to do all the small things I was doing the whole season. I will try to play my best on the ice and I will try to help out guys in the room whenever I can, but it’s a big honor, for sure.”

Vrbata leads the team with 33 assists and 48 points this season. He has 13 points in his last games (four goals) and recently eclipsed 600 points for his career (602). In 492 regular season games for the Coyotes, he has 152 goals and 336 points.

Vrbata signed a bargain, one-year deal last summer for a $1 million base. He has earned another $1 million through performance bonuses based on games played (at least 30) and points scored (at least 40).

Tippett said his production alone has made Vrbata valuable to the team this season, but his value extends beyond points.

“He’s been a really good player and a really good person for our team; a player that young players can look up to,” Tippett said. “His professionalism is exactly what you ‘d want from a player.”

Coyotes GM John Chayka said this week that the Coyotes could re-sign Vrbata this summer.

“I think it will go just like last summer where you look at how things are playing out, how our young players have come along, how many spots you want available for young players vs. needing a veteran and what the market looks like,” said Tippett who is also the executive vice president of hockey operations. “It will be talked about.”

DUCLAIR RETURNS

The Coyotes recalled Anthony Duclair from Tucson of the American Hockey League, but the recall wasn’t really about merit. Duclair had just one goal and seven assists in 16 games with the Roadrunners, after managing just three goals and nine points in 42 games with the Coyotes before he was demoted on Jan 19.

“His experience with the AHL was very average — at best — but he set a standard for himself we know he can play to and we have to see if he get there again,” Tippett said. “We wanted to see if we can grab some positives out of the season for him.

“When you’re a goal scorer and you’re having trouble scoring goals, that eats at you. Everybody wants to contribute; they want to do their part. He’s a good person and he wants to be a part of this but when you’re struggling it’s hard for a young player to get confidence, especially in the goal-scoring department.”

As a rookie in 2015-16, Duclair scored 44 points, including 20 goals, the second-most in a single season in Coyotes history. He logged 8:51 of ice time on Friday in Carolina in his first game since the recall.

FOOD DRIVE

Please donate non-perishable food and/or funds to St. Marys Food Bank at tonight’s game. Volunteers will be stationed at Gila River Arena gates.

LOOSE PUCKS

— Backup goalie Louis Domingue has stopped 74 of the 78 shots he has faced in his last three appearances.

— Doan ended a five-game pointless drought with his first three-point game of the season in a 4-2 win at Carolina on Friday.

Hurricanes at Coyotes

When: 6:30 p.m., Sunday

Where: Gila River Arena, Glendale

TV: FOX Sports Arizona Plus

Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM

Records: Hurricanes — 25-26-10. Coyotes — 23-24-7.

Season series: Coyotes lead, 1-0.

Injury report: Coyotes — D Kevin Connauton (upper body) is week to week. C Alexander Burmistrov is out at least a week with an upper-body injury that looks like a concussion. C Brad Richardson (broken right tibia and fibula) is on injured reserve. Hurricanes — LW Brock McGinn, the brother of the Coyotes’ LW Jamie McGinn, is day to day with an upper-body injury and did not make the trip.

Scouting the Hurricanes: Carolina has lost four in a row, nine of its last 10 (1-6-3) and sits last in the Eastern Conference with 60 points. … LW Jeff Skinner leads the team with 20 goals and 40 points. … Former Coyotes Klas Dahlbeck and Lee Stempniak play for Carolina. … Eddie Lack is expected to start in goal.

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