After clearing waivers in October, Zbynek Michalek has spent all of this year with Arizona’s AHL affiliate in Tucson.
For a 34-year-old rearguard with nearly 800 games of NHL experience, it looked like the beginning of the end. But that narrative switched a bit this past weekend, when the Coyotes brought Michalek up for the first time this season.
Now, with 11 games left, Michalek could be auditioning for a contract for next year.
Or this could be his swan song.
It’s unclear if this season will be Michalek’s last as he planned to discuss his future with his wife and agent this summer. He said he’d have to determine if he wanted to continue playing first and if he did, the NHL would be his top choice but Europe is another option. But he stressed his family is his No. 1 priority and he wants to do what’s best for his wife and two children.
“Whether I like it or not if the right situation doesn’t come around,” Michalek said, “I might have to think about retirement.”
If it is the end, Michalek’s certainly put together a nice career.
Undrafted out of the Quebec League, he caught on with Minnesota as a free agent before getting shipped to the Coyotes (where he’s played over 600 of his 781 career contests). The older brother of Leafs winger Milan Michalek, Zbynek also represented his native Czech Republic on a number of occasions, including a pair of Olympic Games, and captured both silver and bronze medals at the World Championships.