Yotes Notes: Retirement was legitimate option for Coyotes’ Vrbata
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Arizona was always Radim Vrbata’s preferred destination, but if the newly-signed Coyote hadn’t reached a deal by Aug. 15, he told Arizona Sports he was seriously considering retiring to spend more time with his wife, Petra, and their three sons, Krystof (7), Oliver (2), and Vincent (2½ months).
“Obviously, the No. 1 goal was to sign back in NHL but if that didn’t happen in time for us and we had to stay in Czech (Republic) with a young family, I just don’t think we’d want to travel anywhere else,” Vrbata said. “There was a time when I talked about maybe playing for a season or two in Switzerland to finish my career, but it would be tougher to go play in a new country with a big family.
“The other option was to play in Czech for my hometown team (BK Mladá Boleslav of the Czech Extraliga) or just retire and be a dad.
“It’s more work now as parents. There’s three of them and two of you and Krystof is coming to the age where he really needs me around — even Oliver when I was with Vancouver and we’d go on a two-week road trip, he wasn’t happy about me leaving, so that’s why I was thinking this way, but with us going back to a place we’re familiar with, I think we can postpone this discussion until next summer.”
Vrbata, 35, said he will evaluate his career on a year-by-year basis now, but with the salary cap driving so many teams toward younger, faster players, he thinks the days of 35-plus players are numbered.
“I don’t think there will be too many players going until they’re 40 like (Shane) Doaner or (Jaromir) Jagr or (Patrik) Elias,” he said. “In the next few years, 40 will become 35 and 35 will be 31 or 32. The game is getting so much quicker and harder and faster with those young guys coming in. It will take a toll on players.”
NO CHANGE IN RIEDER TALKS
Coyotes general manager John Chayka said Tuesday that there was no change in the status of contract talks with restricted free-agent forward Tobias Rieder.
“It’s status quo for the most part,” Chayka said. “We continue to talk about things. Tobi’s a good player. He’s a player that we like a lot.
“We think the right place for him is Arizona, and I think our offers have been consistent with that in valuing him highly, as well. We hope that we can come to an agreement that can have Tobi in camp because I think that’s the best place for him short-term and long-term and obviously the best thing for our team, as well. He’s an important piece of what we’re doing here.”
Rieder’s agent, Darren Ferris, was at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup last week in the Czech Republic, where the host team won gold with a 4-3 win over the United States. As of two weeks ago, Rieder’s camp was seeking a two-year deal with an average annual value of $2.75 million, but the Coyotes are more likely thinking somewhere around $2.2 million or $2.3 million.
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett will see Rieder at the upcoming World Cup of Hockey in Toronto. Tippett is an assistant coach for Team North American while Rieder will play for Team Europe. Before the tournament begins on Sept. 17, the two teams will play a pair of exhibition games against each other.
Training camps for the tournament begin on Sept. 4-5. Team Europe plays Team North America on Sept. 8 at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City, and on Sept. 11 at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
VERMETTE SHOCKED BY BUYOUT
Former Coyotes center Antoine Vermette signed a two-year, $3.5 million deal with Anaheim on Monday. In a conference call with reporters, Vermette said the Coyotes’ decision to buy him out last week was surprising.
“At no point had (a buyout) been discussed or brought up on their part,” Vermette told reporters. “That caught me off guard a little bit, that’s for sure.”
Vermette will help fill a roster hole with Nate Thompson out until March with an Achilles injury. The Coyotes will pay Vermette $1.25 million each of the next two seasons after buying out the final year of his $3.75 million salary.
• Calgary hired former Coyotes GM Don Maloney as a pro scout on Wednesday. Maloney was with the Coyotes for nine seasons until he was fired in April after the Coyotes’ fourth straight season without a playoff berth.
• Tippett was packing up his things at his summer home in Minnesota and preparing to return to the Valley this week for two weeks of coaches meetings before he heads off to the World Cup of Hockey.
• Goalie Mike Smith and wife Brigitte Acton Smith gave birth to their fourth child on Tuesday, and their first girl, Kingsley Acton Smith. They have three sons: Aksel, Ajax and Nixon.
• Single game tickets for the team’s three preseason home games and the first half of the regular season go on sale to the general public on Aug. 23 at 10 a.m. Tickets for all remaining home games from Jan. 21 through Apr. 8 will go on sale at a later date. For more information on Coyotes tickets, call 480-563-PUCK (7825) or visit www.ArizonaCoyotes.com