If the Arizona Coyotes are going to be successful in 2015-16, it will come down to grinding away wins like they managed to do years ago.
Towering center Martin Hanzal has been a big part of those more successful runs, yet his unyielding style has taken its toll on his body.
Really, his description of the left leg issues that plagued him last season was pretty disturbing, even if his overall message to Fox Sports Arizona was positive.
“I had pain that was shooting down my left leg and there were days where I couldn’t feel my leg,” Hanzal said. “They kind of cut the piece out that was pushing on my nerve and that was the reason I couldn’t feel my leg. Now it’s all good; all healed up.”
The 28-year-old acknowledged his frustration regarding all the time he’s missed over his career. Just look at his games played totals over the years, handing a partial mulligan to the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign:
2009-10 (made the playoffs): 81 games played
2010-11 (made): 61 GP
2011-12 (made): 64 GP
2012-13 (missed): 39 GP*
2013-14 (missed): 65 GP
2014-15 (missed): 37 GP
That’s a lot of missed games, and it’s not as if players who historically deal with injury issues consistently become more durable with age.
Head coach Dave Tippett admits those issues are “a concern,” and health problems only seem more frustrating when you consider his praise of Hanzal:
“When you look at the teams in our conference, he can play head-to-head with those big centers and he touches a lot of different situations for us,” Tippett said. “In a hard game, he’s one of those guys that helps you win.”
Of course, he can’t help the Coyotes if he’s unable to suit up, which is an all-too-frequent issue for the powerhouse pivot.