Author's Note: This is the final entry in a four-part series examining key players on the surprising Phoenix Coyotes squad so far this season. These four players have had the greatest impact on the team's success, helping the Coyotes to overcome numerous off-ice distractions. Each player is on this list for different reasons, as each contributes a unique attribute to the team's overall success. The previous three articles in the series can be found here: Shane Doan, Mike Smith, and Keith Yandle.
Nobody would blame the Phoenix Coyotes players if they performed poorly this season. After all, their club doesn't have any owners (the NHL controls the team right now), and it appears as if they are unwanted, with few parties interested in purchasing the team.
The city of Glendale, Arizona, where the Coyotes are located, is embroiled in a legal battle that further clouds the future of the franchise. Fan support has never been all that great.
The Coyotes are essentially the NHL's neglected step-child. Being successful in these conditions is quite difficult. After all, if nobody else believes in the Coyotes, why should they believe in themselves?
Despite all of the off-ice hardships facing the Phoenix Coyotes, the team is currently tied for first in the Pacific Division, even though they have played one fewer game than the other teams tied for first.
One of the major reasons for the 'Yote's unlikely success is the play of right winger Radim Vrbata.
Statistically, Vrbata is the most important player on the team.
He leads the team in goals with 11 so far. He also has eight assists, which gives him a team-leading 19 points, and is second in plus-minus on the team with plus-seven.
On a team in the bottom half of the league in goal scoring, Vrbata provides the largest chunk of the team's points. Without Vrbata's production, the 'Yotes would be one of the least-proficient goal-scoring teams in the league, and would most likely have a poor record.
Vrbata also provides an intimidation factor on offense, allowing his teammates a little more freedom in the attacking zone.
Vrbata deserves national recognition for all that he has done to help the Coyotes to their surprising success.
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