Top 10 Most Important Players in Phoenix Coyotes History

Michael Jenkins@mikejenkins_99Contributor IIIOctober 17, 2012

Top 10 Most Important Players in Phoenix Coyotes History

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    The following list is a subjective look at the history of the Phoenix Coyotes that will feature the top 10 most important players to don a Coyotes sweater.

    The list reflects the players' times with the Winnipeg-Phoenix franchise. These athletes must have played with the Coyotes or both the Jets and the Coyotes to have made the list.

    The rankings reflect the players' statistics and styles of play with the Jets/Coyotes (not before they arrived or after they left).

    Therefore, while Mike Gartner, Cliff Ronning and Rick Tocchet were great players throughout their careers, they will not be included in this list because their time with the team was limited and their stats or play with the team do not stand up to that of others in the slideshow.

    Please let me know if you agree or disagree by commenting at the end of the article. Let me know who belongs and who does not. Let the debate begin!

10. Dallas Drake

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    Dallas Drake - 1993-1996 (Winnipeg), 1996-2000 (Phoenix): 382 games, 82 Goals, 143 Assists, 328 Penalty Minutes

    Drake was a blood and guts type of player for the Coyotes. His style of play was not pretty, but his all-out effort on a nightly basis made him extremely popular.  Drake sacrificed himself for the team and played a physical, tenacious and ferocious style that endeared him to his teammates and the Phoenix Coyotes fans.

    He was a constant presence on the ice, playing big minutes on the top two lines and playing often on special teams. His shot-blocking was legendary and painful to watch. But that was Drake in a nutshell, the consummate team player.

9. Ladislav Nagy

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    Ladislav Nagy - 2000-2007: 321 Games, 92 G, 157 A, 312 PIM

    Nagy was acquired in the deal that sent Keith Tkachuk to the St. Louis Blues. The mercurial Nagy was extremely talented. He could pass well, he could put the puck in the net and he was an excellent skater. When he decided to put forth his "A" game, he shined and was an offensive force.

    His point total places him fifth in Phoenix's franchise history. He never really received the respect he deserved before he was traded for a first-round draft pick to the Dallas Stars in 2007.

8. Radim Vrbata

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    Radim Vrbata - 2007-present: 314 Games (two stints), 105 G, 104 A, 82 PIM

    Vrbata is coming off of one of his better seasons with the Coyotes. He led the team in goals (35) and finished with 62 points and a plus-24 rating. But Vrbata has consistently scored an average of over 26 goals and 52 points a season in a Coyotes sweater.

    Vrbata's plus-24 rating shows that he is developing into an all-around player who has improved his defensive play over the years. He is going to be counted on to drive the Coyotes' offense into the future.

7. Ed Jovanovski

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    Ed Jovanovski - 2006-2011: 332 Games, 47 G, 117 A, 336 PIM

    Jovanovski was rock-solid as a Coyotes defenseman. He was physical and tough in his own zone and could also play an offensive game out of the back end when necessary. He was excellent in transition and played well on special teams for the Desert Dogs. His leadership and his never-back-down attitude made him a fan favorite.

    "Jovo" or "Jovo Cop" made two All-Star teams (2007, 2008) and recorded three 30-plus-point seasons while he played with the Coyotes.

6. Nikolai Khabibulin

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    Nikolai Khabibulin - 1995-1996 (Winnipeg), 1996-1998 (Phoenix): 310 Games, 126 Wins, 2.85 Goals Against Average, .907 Save Percentage

    The "Bulin Wall" helped define a new era of hockey in the desert. He led the team to the playoffs in the three seasons he played in Phoenix. His acrobatic style with his freakish reflexes and his quick glove hand allowed him to make many saves that drove the home crowds wild.

    Khabibulin made two All-Star teams (1997,1998) during his time with the Coyotes.

    Unfortunately, a prolonged contract dispute led to his departure amidst his best season in a Coyotes sweater.  He played three good seasons in Phoenix, which helped put the Coyotes on the map.

5. Sean Burke

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    Sean Burke - 1999-2003: 211 Games, 97 Wins, 2.41 Goals Against Average, .919 Save Percentage

    Burke was consistent for the Coyotes and played magnificently in between the pipes for most of his tenure in Phoenix. He did encounter some injury issues during his time with the 'Yotes, but if he was in the net for Phoenix, he gave them a very good chance to win. Burke was goaltender during some of the team's leaner years, but his play was not the reason.

    During his time in Phoenix, Burke was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy (top goaltender in NHL) and finished third for the Hart Trophy (NHL MVP) after the 2001-2002 season. Burke made two All-Star teams (2001, 2002) during his tenure with the Coyotes.

    Burke is now the goaltending coach for the Coyotes.

4. Keith Tkachuk

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    Keith Tkachuk - 1992-1996 (Winnipeg), 1996-2001 (Phoenix): 640 Games, 323 G, 300 A, 1,508 PIM

    "Captain Coyote" was a stalwart for almost a decade split between Winnipeg and Phoenix. Tkachuk was a talented goal scorer who used his physical presence to put himself in positions to score goals. Tkachuk took beatings in front of the net for years, as he created opportunities for his teammates to score and took advantage of rebounds that he had little problem converting into critical goals. Tkachuk was not afraid to mix it up with opponents, either, which made him popular with the fanbase.

    Tkachuk led the NHL in goals with 52 in 1997, becoming the first American-born player to do so. He scored 50 goals twice in his career, both times with the Coyotes. The five-time All-Star made three of those teams in Phoenix (1997-1999) and was captain throughout his time in the desert.

    Tkachuk was named to the Coyotes' Ring of Honor in 2011.

3. Teppo Numminen

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    Teppo Numminen - 1988-1996 (Winnipeg), 1996-2003 (Phoenix): 1,098 Games, 108 G, 426 A, 190 PIM

    Mr. Consistency, Numminen was a model for all other Coyotes defensemen to emulate. He was as positionally sound as they came and while he was not overly physical, he always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. He was the consummate professional, showing up with his lunch pail on a nightly basis, rarely missing a game in a Coyotes uniform.

    The three-time All-Star (1998, 1999, 2000) played in all situations, and his quiet demeanor was part of his lead-by-your-actions philosophy.

    The Finnish native became the career leader in games played by a European in the NHL during his career with the Coyotes. He was inducted into the Coyotes' Ring of Honor in 2010.

2. Jeremy Roenick

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    Jeremy Roenick - 1996-2007 (two stints): 454 Games, 152 G, 257 A, 596 PIM

    One word defines Jeremy Roenick: warrior. Roenick flew around the ice with reckless abandon, hitting anything in his path. He is also one of the most gifted scoring forwards in American hockey history.

    During his time with the Coyotes, Roenick would dazzle the crowd by gliding on one of his end-to-end rushes at breakneck speed. He could score, he could pass and he could hit.

    JR, Hollywood, Styles. Any one of the nicknames sufficed, as Roenick was larger than life during his time in Phoenix. His courage was on full display when he came back from a severely fractured jaw to play in Game 7 of the first round of the NHL playoffs against the Dallas Stars in 1999. Roenick's jaw was wired shut and he returned 17 days after the injury in a helmet contraption that no Coyotes fan will ever forget. His effort was legendary to Coyotes fans even though the Coyotes lost the game and the series.

    Roenick played in two All-Star games (1999, 2000) and led the team in scoring three times during his glory years in the desert. He was inducted into the Coyotes' Ring of Honor in 2012.

1. Shane Doan

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    Shane Doan - 1995-1996 (Winnipeg), 1996-present (Phoenix): 1,198 Games, 318 G, 470 A, 1,071 PIM

    Doan tops the list for a number of reasons.

    He has spent his entire career with the Winnipeg-Phoenix organization. He has paid his dues over the years, has been productive since his rookie season and has only gotten better with age.

    He assumed the captaincy with the trade of Teppo Numminen and has not disappointed.

    Doan plays with a fury and a thirst for success that is tough to match. He can tailor his game to his opponent. If he needs to play physical, he will use his strength and toughness to set the tone for his teammates. If he needs to play a more skilled game, he can use his talents to set up his teammates or score goals himself.

    His leadership capabilities are unquestioned. He is loved by his teammates because he leads by example.

    He has scored 20-plus goals and 50-plus points for 11 of the last 12 seasons. His consistency year after year and his willingness to do what is necessary to win games are the hallmarks of Doan's career with the Coyotes.

    He is a two-time All-Star (2004, 2009) who leaves everything on the ice.

    Doan exudes everything the Coyotes should aspire to be about. He is the most important player in franchise history.