Rostislav Klesla

Zbynek Michalek

Czeching in: After 13-game absence, Michalek returns tonight

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Good news on Thursday for the Phoenix Coyotes and Czech Olympic team, as Zbynek Michalek announced he’d be returning from a hip injury that’s sidelined him for nearly a month.

Michalek, who aggravated an existing hip issue just 40 seconds into a 3-1 loss to Montreal on Dec. 17, should provide a big boost to the struggling Coyotes, who have lost four straight and host Vancouver tonight.

The defensive defenseman was averaging close to 20 minutes per night prior to getting hurt and, despite missing so much time, still leads the ‘Yotes with 72 blocked shots.

Michalek’s return is also big news for the Czech Olympic team. Ten days ago, he was named as one of the team’s eight defensemen — and one of just five from the NHL — despite being sidelined with injury.

There were no shortage of potential replacements for Michalek in the Czech lineup, as the team elected not to go with a trio of established NHLers: St. Louis’ Roman Polak, Colorado’s Jan Hejda and Detroit’s Jakub Kindl.

In a related move, the Coyotes put defenseman Rostislav Klesla on waivers today.

Coyotes send Klesla to AHL Portland… again

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Rostislav Klesla is headed to Portland.

Possibly for real this time.

The Coyotes announced on Monday they’ve re-sent the veteran defenseman to the AHL, capping off a bizarre week in which the club waived Klesla, demoted him to Portland, recalled him to Phoenix… and then, today, returned him to the Pirates.

Klesla, a former first-round pick (fourth overall, 2000 NHL Entry Draft) has been plagued by injuries this season — missing four games to a lower-body injury and three to a concussion suffered on a hit during a preseason game by L.A.’s Jordan Nolan — and was originally supposed to use the demotion as a chance to play big minutes, according to head coach Dave Tippett.

“He goes down and can get his game going,” Tippett told the Arizona Republic. “He came into camp in pretty good shape and got hurt, missed some time, came back and starting playing, got hurt again and missed some time.

“Hopefully this is an opportunity for him to go down and play a lot of minutes and see if he can get his game back in order and if that’s the case, he can be a helpful player on our team. But we just need him to be playing at a higher level.”

But before Klesla played a single second for Portland, he was called back up (on Friday) in what looks to have been a paper transaction. According to the Arizona Republic, Tippett said Klesla was brought back to Phoenix to sort out some personal issues.

Klesla is in the final year of a four-year, $11.9 million deal originally signed with Columbus (he was acquired via trade in 2011.) The Czech rearguard has appeared in 15 games for the Coyotes this season, scoring three points while averaging 15:42 TOI per game.

That was fast: Coyotes recall Klesla three days after waiving him

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And just like that, Rostislav Klesla is back in Phoenix.

Klesla, waived on Tuesday and demoted to AHL Portland on Wednesday, has been recalled by the Coyotes without having played a single American League game, the club announced.

Forward Chris Brown was sent to the Pirates to clear a roster spot.

It’s unclear exactly what caused Phoenix’s change of heart. Klesla, a former first-round pick (fourth overall, 2000 NHL Entry Draft) has been plagued by injuries this season — missing four games to a lower-body injury and three to a concussion suffered on a hit during a preseason game by L.A.’s Jordan Nolan — and was supposed to use the demotion as a chance to play big minutes, according to head coach Dave Tippett.

“He goes down and can get his game going,” Tippett told the Arizona Republic. “He came into camp in pretty good shape and got hurt, missed some time, came back and starting playing, got hurt again and missed some time.

“Hopefully this is an opportunity for him to go down and play a lot of minutes and see if he can get his game back in order and if that’s the case, he can be a helpful player on our team. But we just need him to be playing at a higher level.”

As mentioned, Klesla didn’t play a single second for Portland, making this situation all the more odd. There is some speculation a trade might be in the works (see here and here), but any team wanting to acquire Klesla could’ve done so by claiming him off waivers.

Klesla is in the final year of a four-year, $11.9 million deal originally signed with Columbus (he was acquired via trade in 2011.) The Czech rearguard has appeared in 15 games for the Coyotes this season, scoring three points while averaging 15:42 TOI per game.

Klesla clears waivers, sent to Phoenix’s AHL affiliate

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Rostislav Klesla is on his way to Portland.

Klesla, waived by Phoenix on Tuesday, has cleared and will be sent to the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate, the club announced on Wednesday. The move marks a pretty quick turn of events for the 31-year-old defenseman who, on Monday, played 17 shifts for 14:56 in Phoenix’s 4-2 loss to Nashville.

Klesla is in the final year of a four-year, $11.9 million deal originally signed with Columbus (he was acquired via trade in 2011.) The Czech rearguard has appeared in 15 games for the Coyotes this season, scoring three points while averaging 15:42 TOI per game.

The former first-round pick (fourth overall, 2000 NHL Entry Draft) has been plagued by injuries this season, missing four games to a lower-body injury and three to a concussion suffered on a hit during a preseason game by L.A.’s Jordan Nolan.

To replace Klesla, the Coyotes have brought up Connor Murphy from Portland. The club’s first-round pick (20th overall) at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Murphy was recalled earlier this season and scored in his NHL debut.

As for what the future has for Klesla?

“He goes down and can get his game going,” Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett told the Arizona Republic. “He came into camp in pretty good shape and got hurt, missed some time, came back and starting playing, got hurt again and missed some time.

“Hopefully this is an opportunity for him to go down and play a lot of minutes and see if he can get his game back in order and if that’s the case, he can be a helpful player on our team. But we just need him to be playing at a higher level.”

Rusty gone? Coyotes waive veteran d-man Klesla

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The Phoenix Coyotes raised eyebrows across the league on Tuesday by placing veteran defenseman Rostislav Klesla on waivers.

Klesla, 31, is in the final year of a four-year, $11.9 million deal originally signed with Columbus (he was acquired via trade in 2011.) The Czech rearguard has appeared in 15 games for the Coyotes this season, scoring three points while averaging 15:42 TOI per game.

The former first-round pick (fourth overall, 2000 NHL Entry Draft) has been plagued by injuries this season, missing four games to a lower-body injury and three to a concussion suffered on a hit during a preseason game by L.A.’s Jordan Nolan.

The decision to waive Klesla comes just hours after he played 17 shifts for 14:56 in a 4-2 loss to Nashville on Monday night. It’s worth noting he carries an average annual cap hit of $2.975 million.

Update: Here’s some background behind the move, as per the Arizona Republic

“We’re looking to try to find ways to improve our group, and I talked to Don after the game last night and we talked about different scenarios,” Tippett said. “One was just to see how we could change the mix a little bit, and [waiving Klesla] was the first step of it.”

The team did not make Klesla available to comment, and team brass wasn’t saying much either.

“We’ll see what happens and at that point, I’ll explain what’s going to happen and why,” General Manager Don Maloney said.

Signs of this demotion started to pop up earlier this month. Klesla was a healthy scratch Nov. 16 against the Tampa Bay Lightning after he was minus-3 the game before against the Chicago Blackhawks despite playing in a team-high 36 shifts (24:41).

Klesla is still practicing with the Coyotes and, if he isn’t claimed by another NHL team by Wednesday morning, will reportedly be sent to Phoenix’s AHL affiliate in Portland.