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Off The Ice: Vrbata deserves to play with stars in Ottawa

Pack your bags, Radim Vrbata. I want you out of
Phoenix come January.

You deserve to go to Ottawa. You’ve been outstanding this
season for the Phoenix Coyotes. You deserve better than
the recognition you get here. You belong among the NHL
elite and should play on a line with them.

You should be named an All-Star and have your chance to
shine at the All-Star game in Ottawa this season.

You won’t get enough votes from fans, that much is clear
from last season, but you can hope to be recognized by NHL
hockey operations, much like your cohort, Keith Yandle,
was last year. Your play has earned you a spot in Ottawa.

“[Vrbata]’s showing his tremendous value to us,” said
Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney on Friday.

He couldn’t be more right.

Vrbata has been a huge factor for the Coyotes this year.
Everything about him has screamed “talent” since the team
opened their season, as fans in the desert have seen. He
leads the team with 14 goals, co-leads with 25 points and
is a team-leading plus-12 on the season. While he’s
obviously not scoring among the likes of Toronto’s Phil
Kessel or Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux, Vrbata is keeping
a workhorse team in contention in an ever-close Western
Conference race.

If the Western Conference wants to be represented by an
accurate shooter, Vrbata will be hard to beat. He’s taken
80 shots this season, but buried 17.5 percent of those.
That in itself is impressive, until you consider a
shootout move that every goalie knows will be coming, but
few can stop it. There are a rare few players in the NHL
that can go against top guys and score because they are
simply that talented. Vrbata is one of those players.

I won’t go into how great of a guy Vrbata is, because that
has nothing do with why he deserves a spot on the All-Star
roster. His numbers speak for themselves. The fact that he
is in the top 10 for goal scorers on a defense-first team
is impressive enough, but his overall play should attract
many who have an eye for how hockey should be played.

So pack your bags, Vrby. Get out of the sun and into the
snow. Enjoy Ottawa and being me back a souvenir. It’s up
to the NHL to decide, but you deserve to represent your
team in this year’s All-Star game.

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