Brooks Laich was sitting in front of the television on July 1 and saw the ticker: Phoenix Coyotes sign Boyd Gordon, two years, $2.65 million.
Gordon made just $800,000 last year, his seventh season with the Washington Capitals.
"First off, you're excited for him because he gets a very good contract," Laich said. "And then the emotions are hitting you: You're disappointed that you don't have a good friend and a really good teammate to play alongside any more. He's doing really well."
Laich isn't exaggerating: Gordon is doing really well with the Coyotes. Not only is he excelling in penalty-killing and faceoff situations but he's filling in as a top-two center and has as many goals (three) in 19 games as he had in 60 last season. An injury to Daymond Langkow necessitated some of it, but Gordon's willingness and ability to fill in made it a no-brainer.
"Boyd's come in, he's a very, what I call, professional player. He prepares well, thinks the game well, will do whatever it takes to help the team win," coach Dave Tippett said. "And he's been a really good addition to our team. It's not just the penalty-killing part, but he's come in and really stabilized our center ice, given us some really quality minutes, and he's got a few points on the board. He's been a solid, solid player for us."
Gordon has welcomed the opportunity to center Radim Vrbata and captain Shane Doan and play some big minutes. He's averaging 16:33 of ice time, which is on pace to shatter his career high.
"I've had some good opportunities," Gordon said. "Lanks is out right now, so I've been playing with some high-caliber players. I'm trying to make the most of it. It's pretty much that simple."
It's simple because it's necessary.
"If you play on our team, the thing that makes our team successful is we don't have any superstars," Doan said. " We have a whole group that we count on."
Gordon has become one of those cornerstone players the Coyotes count on. He's ninth in the league in faceoffs (56 percent) and is, unsurprisingly, Phoenix's best penalty-killer.
Gordon feels good about those roles, in addition to being counted on as a top-six center. And his coach is more than happy with how he has performed in every facet.
"That's a big part of his role. He knew that coming in," Tippett said. "We've really got him engaged in that situation of the game. He's done a very good job from faceoffs, working with the other guys on the ice — the details of his penalty kill are very good. He's been a strong addition for our penalty kill."
And everything else.
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