Vermette returns to young Coyotes with Cup experience

Antoine Vermette this summer signed a two-year contract with the Coyotes that allowed him to return home to his family in Arizona.

Christine Cotter

GLENDALE, Ariz. — It is nearly unheard of to be traded to a team that wins the Stanley Cup and then return to the team that traded you. But that was Antoine Vermette’s summer.

Just 16 days after raising the Stanley Cup for the Chicago Blackhawks in June, Vermette signed a two-year contract with the Coyotes that allowed him to return home to his family in Arizona.

In a Feb. 28 trade, the center was shipped to Chicago to help the team contend for the Cup after Blackhawks’ star Patrick Kane sustained a broken clavicle. Vermette scored four goals during the Stanley Cup playoffs, including a game-winning goal in double overtime of Game 4 of the Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks. That goal helped the Blackhawks even the series, en route to their third Stanley Cup in six years. While winning the Cup helped Vermette accomplish his long-time dream, he was more than happy to return to the desert.

"It’s just exciting overall to come back here," Vermette said.

Vermette proved his worth in the Stanley Cup playoffs as a dependable faceoff man and strong two-way player. The Coyotes are thrilled to have their old friend back.

"I’ve gotten to play with him for a while and then he won a Stanley Cup," Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. "We talked about it a little bit and I was jealous, but also so happy about the way it all went for him."

As two of the oldest Coyotes, Doan and Vermette hope their actions will serve as good examples for the younger guys on the team. Doan may have been in the league for as long as rookie forward Max Domi has been alive, but he still wants each prospect to work as hard as he will.

"You see their skill, you see what they’re able to do and it’s exciting," Doan said. "It’s good to have a group of guys push each other and hold each other accountable."

Consistently working hard is just one of the things Doan wants the younger guys to adopt. Vermette agreed, hoping that his actions will serve as guidance for the younger guys on the team.

"Just as an older guy you try to preach good ethics, good work habits to the younger guys," Vermette said. "With that (Stanley Cup) success, it can help to reinforce the message and get good habits (going) around."

Focusing on many different skills this summer, Vermette improved his strength and endurance by working with the same trainer he’s had for 17 years. He feels as if his good habits will translate well in the game and on faceoffs as well.

"I think that’s gonna mean a lot to our team," Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson agreed. "He’s gonna come back with a good feeling about himself and obviously that’s going to be very good for our team."

Vermette is excited to build on the chemistry he has with Doan and forward Mikkel Boedker and see how he’ll work with some of the recent acquisitions and young prospects.

"There’s a few good, young players coming in and it generates some excitement around the fan base, organization and the players in the organization," Vermette said. "We thrive on that excitement."

Goalie Mike Smith reiterated the importance of restoring and reloading their team.

"It’s exciting obviously to acquire some of the players we got with size, grit and physicality, along with some skill," Smith said. "I think that we definitely filled some holes we had."