GLENDALE – 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.