Boyd Gordon fit the definition of “role player” with the Washington Capitals. He took big faceoffs, killed penalties and worked in the corners to free up the puck. Call him a “glue guy” if you want to harvest another hockey cliché.
But on Friday, he became those things for the Phoenix Coyotes, leaving the place he called home for seven seasons and the coach he won a Calder Cup with while playing for the Hershey Bears. He had been with the Caps since before the lockout.
“I’m definitely gonna miss it. I’m very comfortable here,” Gordon told The Washington Times in a telephone interview. “It’s definitely a tough decision to leave, but it’s a new challenge and I’m excited about it.”
Gordon got a hefty raise from the Coyotes, a two-year deal worth $2.65 million — $1.3 million next season and $1.35 million in 2012-13. He made $800,000 this past year with the Caps.
“It’s a great deal. You never really know what to expect. That’s part of the reason I waited till July 1, just to see what’s out there,” Gordon said. “It was a great offer and, I think, a good opportunity.”
Gordon’s parents own a house in Arizona, but the 27-year-old center called that more of a “coincidence” than a reason he went to the Coyotes.
The Caps hope Jeff Halpern — signed to a one-year, $825,000 contract Friday — can even improve on what Gordon contributed. And general manager George McPhee got a bit of a jab in at Gordon while extolling Halpern’s virtues.
“[Halpern] got 26 points last year, which is more than we got out of that position last year,” McPhee told reporters at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “We want players to be able to fulfill certain roles but also generate offense, and he does that.”
Gordon wasn’t counted on to score and finished with three goals and six assists in 60 regular-season games. But he was Bruce Boudreau’s stud faceoff guy, as the coach put Gordon out onto the ice for crucial playoff draws even early in games.
With Matt Bradley likely gone too, Boudreau admitted he’ll miss both of them. But when talking about Gordon’s contract, the Caps’ coach was proud.
“He did well,” Boudreau said. “I’m happy for him.”