Vitale moving to wing for Arizona Coyotes should help his game
When the Arizona Coyotes re-acquired Antione Vermette, and Boyd Gordon, while acquiring Brad Richardson as a free agent, that moved the player count at the center position to five. That’s quite a logjam. He knew something had to change, and it looks like it will be him playing wing, instead of center this new season.
According to what GM Don Maloney told Craig Morgon of Fox Sports Arizona, that is exactly the team’s plans:
“We think this is a good move for Joe that will get him playing more of a north-south game and taking advantage of some of his abilities,” general manager Don Maloney said the day the Coyotes signed Gordon.
It’s quite alright with Joe, as he feels it may even revitalize his game.
“Wherever they have me this year, my biggest concern is just getting back to my game, which at times I felt like I lost a little bit last year,” he said. “I need to get back to having confidence stepping over the boards. That was my first losing season, and it kind of shook my confidence, so I need that kind of grittiness to get into my game no matter what the score is; no matter what the situation is.”
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Vitale’s numbers weren’t where he’d like them, with just three goals and six assists in 70 games. His face-off win percentage was only 48.7, and that was down from his previous four-year average of 58.4%. He was signed with the hopes of some better scoring, and better face-off results, but last season was not exactly a banner year for the entire Arizona Coyotes’ squad.
According to Head Coach Dave Tippett:
“Speed, tenacity and the opportunity to finish checks,” Tippett said when asked why he likes Vitale on the wing. “I think he can be effective there.”
“At times when you’re at center, you expend a lot of energy down low in the defensive end and the offensive end,” Vitale said. “At wing, it’s about having that poise and that position awareness. When the opportunity comes to skate you take that, so hopefully it will cater to my game as far as having a good burst of speed, being on pucks first, and I hope it adds to the physicality of my game.”
Vitale will be more effective on the wing with Boyd Gordon, and perhaps Kyle Chipchura on the other wing, moving from his normal center position to form a decent fourth line. John Scott can also fill in on the left side when the Arizona Coyotes are playing a bigger, more physical team like the L.A. Kings, whom they will be facing on opening night October 10th in Tinsel Town. It will be our first look at Vitale in his new position, although he did fill in there a few times last season when Coach Tippett changed lines up (as he likes to do) to get some better results.
Joe Vitale defines hustle, and here’s hoping that moving to right-wing will give him an opportunity to excel this season.
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