PHILADELPHIA — Mikkel Boedker has spent eight seasons as a Coyote. In that time, he has built lasting relationships and strengthened already existing friendships.
As Boedker’s Arizona tenure approaches its likely end at Monday’s NHL trade deadline, those relationships may be the most overlooked aspect of his impending move to another NHL city.
“It’s a tough situation with a lot of things going through my mind right now,” Boedker said after Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. “It’s going to be different. It’s the first time I’m in this situation.”
Boedker’s representation turned down what two sources said was a five-year offer for an average annual value of $5.5 million. The Coyotes subsequently pulled the offer, making Boedker one of the top players available on the market for teams looking to push themselves over the top.
Coach Dave Tippett acknowledged recently that the uncertainty has been weighing on Boedker’s mind and likely seeping into his game.
“It’s human nature,” Tippett said.
In that sense, Monday’s deadline may finally deliver some closure for Boedker, who recorded just his eighth point since Jan. 1 with an assist on Saturday in Philadelphia. In the meantime, Boedker has been relying heavily on the friends around him to help him through the past few weeks.
“I lean a lot on Oliver (Ekman-Larsson) and (Shane) Doaner,” Boedker said. “For whatever reason, every time you seem to sit down and talk to them it calms you down a bit. Even (head equipment manager) Stan (Wilson) and (equipment manager) Tony (Silva) have been real supportive and made sure (they’re there) if I ever need to talk to anybody.”
Tippett said professional athletes are never alone at times like these.
“One thing players have is they have an internal support system built around them with teammates and coaches and lots of people who have been through it before,” he said. “You’ve got to recognize it’s a business. Each guy is his own little business. That’s just the way it is.”
Boedker said he has tried not to think about the trade, but he is also prepared for what seems inevitable.
“I have to be,” he said. “If that’s the decision that’s meant to be, you have to be prepared for it and you have to take it as a new challenge.
“It’s part of the NHL. It’s part of being a player in the NHL. There’s a lot of tough things that can happen to you. It’s a business and a money business and the teams that want to win get better and the teams that are out of the playoffs want to make sure that the future is bright.”
Of all the players in the Coyotes locker room, Ekman-Larsson will probably take Boedker’s trade the hardest. The two have been friends longer than they’ve been Coyotes. They sit next to each other in the Gila River Arena locker room, they golf together, they socialize together and Titan Sports Management represents them both.
“I just feel bad for him,” Ekman-Larsson said. “Obviously, I don’t want to see him go to another team. I want him to stay here but it’s not up to me. That’s how it works, right?
“At the same time I think he has been handling it really good and working hard every day even though he hasn’t been scoring a lot or getting a lot of points. We appreciate that.”
If Saturday’s game was in fact Boedker’s last in a Coyotes uniform, he gave his good friend something to remember him by when he used his speed to cut to the middle and dish a backhand to Ekman-Larsson, who roofed the pass to slice the Flyers lead to 3-2 at 6:33 of the third period.
“That was a good pass,” Ekman-Larsson said. “We’ll see what’s going to happen in the next two days. It feels kind of weird.”
Boedker’s agent, Jarrett Bousquet, said long ago that even if Boedker leaves the Coyotes, his friendship with Ekman-Larsson wouldn’t suffer. Boedker echoed those thoughts Saturday in Philadelphia.
“We were friends before we came in the NHL,” Boedker said. “I’m sure we’ll stay friends long after it’s over.”
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