Taylor Pyatt finds place with Phoenix Coyotes after tragedy

taylorpyatt.jpgThe Phoenix Coyotes just announced that they re-signed rugged forward Taylor Pyatt to a two-year contract. The exact terms of the deal are not yet clear.

Pyatt, 28, recorded 12-11-23 with 39 penalty minutes (PIM) and a career-high +13 rating in 74 games with the Coyotes last season, his first with the team. He also collected 1-1-2 while playing in all seven of the Coyotes’ postseason games last year.

The hard-hitting winger dealt with a rocky year-plus, moving to Phoenix after years as a member of the Vancouver Canucks and – most tragically – struggling with the death of his fiance and high school sweetheart.

On April 2, 2009, Pyatt, then a forward with the Vancouver Canucks, received a horrific middle-of-the-night call from the brother of his fiancee, Carly Bragnalo. There was a car accident, he was told, in Jamaica where she was vacationing with family. She didn’t survive the injuries.

How do you move on? She had been in his life for 11 years, a high school sweetheart who had shared the crazy ride of his hockey career.

He left the game for three weeks, unable to justify putting hockey ahead of his mourning. He rejoined the Canucks midway through the playoffs but in the summer, when he had become an unrestricted free agent and no longer had the distraction of daily hockey, his clarity told him he needed a new environment.

“I was looking for a change of scenery and to turn the page as far as my career goes,” he said Monday.

It’s great to hear that Pyatt is sticking with Phoenix. One can only imagine that the 28-year-old forward could use some stability after a chaotic year-plus.

For at least one Coyote, the team’s ownership troubles seemed pretty timid. Best of luck to Pyatt as he moves on with his life with a little bit of security.

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    Video: Chris Kreider doesn’t just fight Cody Eakin, he hits him with his helmet

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    Tuesday’s Dallas Stars – New York Rangers almost seemed destined to be a wild affair, and so far, the two teams aren’t disappointing.

    For one thing, Chris Kreider and the Rangers were open about “not forgetting” Cody Eakin‘s hit on Henrik Lundqvist, something Eakin realized heading in. The Stars had their own irritations coming into this game, as they clearly weren’t happy with their loss to the Buffalo Sabres and their shaky play overall.

    So, yeah, plenty of reason for this to be a rowdy affair.

    Kreider is delivering in particular, with the most memorable moment being his strange fight with Eakin, which you can see above. SBNation’s Pat Iversen points out that Kreider probably should have been ejected for hitting Eakin with a piece of his equipment, a violation of Rule 53.

    As many know, Kreider has even more of a reputation for “interacting” with goalies, as he did once again with Antti Niemi:

    The Stars currently lead the game 5-3, so it’s been a busy one on the scoreboard, too.

    Video: Maple Leafs lose Morgan Rielly after fall into boards

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    Down 2-0 to the Buffalo Sabres, the Toronto Maple Leafs are off to a shaky start on Tuesday. Still, their concerns likely revolve the most around the health of defenseman Morgan Rielly.

    As you can see from the video above, the young Buds blueliner was shaken up by an awkward spill into the boards.

    It’s too early to know if he avoided injury or might miss some time, but there’s at least some concern that he might have aggravated an issue from before his NHL days:

    We’ll need to wait and see, but with his offensive skills and overall importance in mind (average just under 23 minutes a game this season, more or less in line with his breakthrough year in 2015-16), the Maple Leafs are crossing their fingers that this isn’t anything major.

    WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at Colorado Avalanche

    CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 23:  Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks controls the puck as he turns against Tyson Barrie #4 of the Colorado Avalanche at the United Center on December 23, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Avalanche defeated the Blackhawks 2-1 in overtime.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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    The Chicago Blackhawks need to put a tough weekend behind them; maybe the Colorado Avalanche are just what the doctor ordered.

    Colorado is clearly ranked last in the league, whether they believe they have some assets in the likes of Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog or not. Perhaps there will be a few scouts on hand to see how such potential Avs trade targets perform against a contending team?

    It’s rarely a dull night when the Blackhawks roll out talented players like Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Jonathan Toews – among others – so it should be a good time on NBCSN on Tuesday.

    You can watch online or via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.

    Short-lived return? No Tyler Ennis for Sabres tonight

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 25:  Tyler Ennis #63 of the Buffalo Sabres takes a shot on goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the first period at Wells Fargo Center on October 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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    Tyler Ennis‘ return to the Buffalo Sabres lineup on Monday after a 30-game absence seemed like a breath of fresh air. Tuesday, then, represents letting the air out of the balloon.

    The Sabres announced that Ennis wasn’t out for warm-ups heading into tonight’s Sabres – Toronto Maple Leafs game. It certainly gives the impression that his groin injury isn’t fully healed.

    Ennis contributed a goal to Buffalo’s 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars on Monday and nearly scored another in “lacrosse” style:

    When healthy, he’s been a 20-goal, 40+ point player for Buffalo lately, so he was missed. The team tweeted out Ryan O'Reilly‘s comments about Ennis’ return mere hours ago, so you get the impression that it was a surprise for many:

    Maybe it’s just a minor setback?

    Update: The Sabres deem it a “precautionary scratch,” according to John Vogl of the Buffalo News. So maybe file this under minor setback. We’ll see.