The Arizona Coyotes are used to seeing familiar faces return to their roster. After trading Antoine Vermette and Zbynek Michalek at this year’s deadline, the Coyotes brought both players back to the desert on the first day of free agency.
Vermette’s return comes after he captured the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks, while Michalek is making his third stop in Arizona. In addition, the Coyotes also acquired Boyd Gordon, who had previously spent two years with the team. These signings brought to mind other noteworthy Arizona players that returned to the desert in their careers.
Radim Vrbata first arrived to Arizona in 2007 when the Coyotes acquired him from the Blackhawks in an offseason trade. During the 2007-08 season, he put together 27 goals and 56 points with the Coyotes, which were both career-highs at the time. The Tampa Bay Lightning acquired him the following year through free agency, but Vrbata struggled to find the scoring touch he had in Arizona. He only posted three goals in 18 games before asking to leave the team, and finishing the year in his home country. The Lightning dealt Vrbata back to the Coyotes for the 2009-10 season, where he rebounded to score a team-leading 24 goals and helped push Arizona to their first playoff appearance in eight years.
Derek Morris originally came to the Coyotes in 2004 in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche. Morris netted 25 goals and 93 points for Arizona from 2004-2009 before being sent to the New York Rangers at the trade deadline. The following season, Morris was involved in another deadline deal that brought him from Boston back to Arizona. During his second run with the Coyotes, Morris had a pair of memorable goals in the playoffs. He scored the game-winning goal in Game 1 against the Detroit Red Wings in 2010, giving the Coyotes their first playoff victory in Glendale. Two years later, Morris became the first player in Coyotes/Jets franchise history to score a goal in the third round of the postseason when he fired a shot from near center-ice that eluded Jonathan Quick.
In the first few years of the Arizona Coyotes, Jeremy Roenick was one of the faces of the franchise. His star talent played a critical part in Arizona’s early success as he was in the top two in team scoring every season during his initial five-year run. After stops in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, Roenick returned to the desert for the 2006-07 campaign. However, the Boston native was not as effective in the twilight of his career and only managed 11 goals in his one-year return. It was a difficult season all around for the Coyotes as they finished with a conference-worst 67 points.
Charles Woodall-Pike is a journalist who writes about the Arizona Coyotes for The Hockey Writers.