Now Yonkman Leaves
Posted By: Aaron Sims
Nolan Yonkman has signed a free agent contract with the Phoenix Coyotes. That leaves the Admirals with a hole on defense, in leadership and in community relations.
The Admirals were very lucky to have Yonkman for four seasons. That length of time with a team in the AHL is almost unheard of these days. Remember: it’s a developmental league. There is, unfortunately, little room for veterans.
Nolan was the first three-year captain in Milwaukee’s AHL history. He was also outstanding as a spokesman for the organization. Yonks was very giving of his time for radio, TV, appearances, charitable causes, etc. He is seriously a prince of a man.
I spoke with Nolan at Summerfest a couple weeks ago. He was nice enough to stop by the Admirals show at the Sportszone. He explained that Nashville had a nice offer on the table. I asked him if he thought he had a future with the Preds. He wasn’t very sure. He understood the Predators liked him in Milwaukee to help the young players learn how to handle the life of a pro athlete. I then threw out the most obvious comment ever: “You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t see what else is out there.” He had that thought before my brilliant observation. Obviously, Phoenix is what was out there.
Nashville wanted to keep him around. The front office in Milwaukee DEFINITELY wanted him back. It was Nolan’s choice to take what he deemed a better offer. This isn’t about what Nashville didn’t offer…it’s about what Phoenix did.
Looking at the move from a hockey standpoint, it makes sense. Players still want to play in the NHL and Nolan is no exception. In his four years with the Predators organization, Yonkman got about a week in the NHL and didn’t play in any games. Nashville has acquired other defensemen via trades and drafts. His chance of playing in the NHL was dwindling with the Preds. The Coyotes, though having the appearance of being set on the blue line at the NHL level, represent a fresh start and a new group of eyes watching his performance. If Phoenix deals a player like Ed Jovanovski, Yonkman could be in the mix to replace him on the roster.
Financially, the offer from Phoenix was for more money at the AHL level than what Nashville offered. Another financial positive for Yonkman is Texas does not impose an income tax. Playing roughly 50 games in the state means Yonkman will pocket more money than if he played almost anywhere else since he doesn’t have to pay that tax.
In-house, I think Scott Ford
and Blake Geoffrion
will be great guys in the community. They can make up for Nolan’s minutes on radio, TV and other appearances.
It’s going to be a different team in 2010-2011. It could be the greatest season in the history of the Admirals, or the worst. We don’t know because of the lack of familiarity we have with the expected roster. Change happens and it’s exciting.
It was very shocking to hear that Bob Probert died yesterday
. Probert could have challenged Mike Tyson for the title, “Baddest Man on the Planet.” Probert could also put the puck into the net. In 1987-88 he scored 29 goals and spent 398 minutes in the penalty box. He led the Red Wings in playoff scoring that year with 21 points in 16 games. The year he was drafted was Mike Ilitch’s first as the team’s owner
. That year, Detroit drafted Steve Yzerman in the first round, Admirals coach Lane Lambert in the second and Probert in the third. Petr Klima, Joey Kocur and Stu Grimson were also drafted by the Wings that season.
Former Admirals forward Bracken Kearns
, like Nolan Yonkman, also signed with the Coyotes. It’s his first NHL contract. Bracken would fit into anybody’s top-10 in the category “Nicest Guy Ever”.
If I were to pick a team in the AHL that’s most-improved, right now I’d say San Antonio. The Coyotes are stacking that roster with a lot of very good AHL players: Kearns, Yonkman, Garrett Stafford, Mathieu Beaudoin, Matt Climie and, maybe, Andrew Ebbett.
I leave you with Appleton’s Roger Jenkins.
As far as I can tell, he’s the first player born in the state of Wisconsin to play in the NHL. He played with Toronto in the 1930-31 season. He was a teammate of Blake Geoffrion’s grandfather, Howie Morenz
, with the Montreal Canadiens in the 1936-37 season.