SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Alex Tanguay knows his stay in Arizona will probably be a short one. He is 36 years old and the Coyotes are in the middle of a youth movement, so the trade-deadline acquisition is treating the final 18 games of the 2015-16 season like an audition.
“Really what I want to do is keep playing,” Tanguay said before the Coyotes hosted the Florida Panthers on Saturday at Gila River Arena. “I haven’t had the type of year that I’d like to have, but this is an opportunity and I’d like to showcase myself.”
Tanguay got off to a great start with a pair of goals and an assist in a 5-1 win over the Panthers to help Arizona snap a season-high seven-game losing streak, but the 16-year veteran hopes to bring more to the table than just points as he seeks a new contract as an unrestricted free agent this summer.
“I’ve been fortunate to be playing this game for quite a few years and when you do that you gain experience and that understanding of how to do things,” he said. “There’s a lot of young, talented players here and there is going to be growth. I know it’s been hard for them the last little bit, but I’m going to work as hard as possible to help the guys out here, show them the way I was taught, and maybe if I’m lucky, help this organization’s future.”
Tanguay has an impressive resume upon which to draw. His 853 points currently rank 125th all-time in NHL history and he is No. 7 on the Colorado Avalanche’s all-time points list with 488 from roughly eight combined seasons there. He also scored the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the 2001 Stanley Cup Final as the Avalanche beat the New Jersey Devils, but most of his brethren know him for another skill.
“He’s one of the best passers in my era,” said Coyotes captain Shane Doan, who lobbied to sign Tanguay when he was a free agent before the 2010-11 season. “Him and Joe Thornton are the guys I think of, but if you wanted to compare him to someone now it would probably be to (Nicklas) Backstrom in Washington.
“I had heard from lot of people what a good guy he was and so positive. It was selfish on my part to try to get him here, but everyone that plays with him has always raved about how good he is and how well he moves the puck and makes plays.”
The Avalanche traded Tanguay and a pair of prospects to Arizona for forward Mikkel Boedker at the trade deadline. Tanguay admitted it was hard leaving Colorado because he had accomplished his greatest things there.
“I had talks with (GM) Joe (Sakic) and I told him I wanted to get an opportunity to play until the end of the year so they made a move,” said Tanguay, who will face his old team on Monday in Denver. “Mentally, I can’t say that’s it’s not hard because it is hard. You’ve accomplished so much there and now these guys don’t want you. It affects you, sure, but I’ve been through it before.
“I had one year in Tampa where I had 30 points, I was a healthy scratch a lot and I was playing on the fourth line. Then the year after that I went to Calgary and almost scored 70 points (69). Some situations aren’t favorable but I am going to relish the opportunity here.”
Tanguay got off to a slow start this season and then missed 11 games with a knee injury. He also missed Thursday’s game against Anahiem with a knee sprain suffered in Colorado’s outdoor game against Detroit).
He has just six goals and 25 points, but with his body feeling good again and a pair of French-Canadian linemates (Antoine Vermette and Anthony Duclair) creating some chemistry, that could change.
“They all have decent skills and Tanguay’s a real smart player; makes good plays,” coach Dave Tippett said. “Obviously, they communicate well together.”
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