He was a key to the then Phoenix Coyotes success in the 2011-2012 playoffs. He won faceoffs when it counted and screens goalies like no one else on the team.
Martin Hanzal was the Coyotes’ first round pick in 2005, out of Pisek, Czechoslovakia. He played many years on the Czech World Junior team and after being drafted played with the Omaha Lancers in the USHL and the Red Deer Rebals in the WHL.
The Coyotes 6-foot-6 center made his NHL debut in 2007, ending the season with eight goals and 27 assists in 72 games. Hanzal had an outstanding season in 2010-2011, where he played in 61 games, having 16 goals and ten assists.
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When the Coyotes went on an outstanding playoff run in 2012, Martin Hanzal played a huge role. In Game 1 of their series against the Chicago Blackhawks, Hanzal won a clean faceoff in overtime and rushed the net to redirect the puck, winning the game for the Coyotes. He is a big body in front of the net and helped the Coyotes advance to the Western Conference Finals.
The season after the playoff run Martin Hanzal played in 39 games in the NHL’s shortened season, having 11 goals and 12 assists.
In the 2014-2015 season Hanzal suffered from a herniated disk in his back that only allowed him to play in 37 games, the fewest in his eight-year career. He finished the season with eight goals and 16 assists. In Hanzal’s last game of the season, against the Toronto Maple Leafs on January 29th, he had the game-winning goal in a 3-1 Coyotes victory.
In the offseason Hanzal had back surgery to alleviate the disk. He is completing his rehab, as the Coyotes get ready to start camp. Hanzal had an identical surgery in 2008, and the same doctor operated on him. Head Coach Dave Tippett and Hanzal want to change some things this summer to make sure he can stay healthy.
Feb 27, 2014; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Phoenix Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal (11) scores against Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec (31) during the third period at MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports
The Arizona Coyotes will get a huge addition, without costing the team any more money, if Hanzal can stay healthy in 2015-2016. He said that he wants to step up his performance on the ice, and sets a goal to stay healthy all season. Hanzal wants to play in all 82 games, a feat that he has never accomplished.
It frustrates not only fans, but also Hanzal, when he is unable to stay healthy. He was a part of a rumor that he would be traded during his time on injured reserve. Martin Hanzal is committed to winning in Arizona, and loves it here.
Will this surgery finally put Hanzal’s injury woes behind him? We will all see come October.