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Stempniak Stays In Phoenix – SportsUntapped.com
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Added August 31st, 2010 by Chalk

Stempniak Stays In Phoenix
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On Sunday, right wing Lee Stempniak signed a two-year, $3.5 million deal to stay with the Phoenix Coyotes.  He said did it because of “unfinished business” — he joined the Coyotes for the final 18 regular season games last season and was stellar, but he was a non-factor in Phoenix’s getting bounced from the playoffs in the first round by the Red Wings.  However, Coyotes general manager Don Maloney believes Stempniak’s choice to return was mostly based on economics.

Maloney’s happy to get Stempniak back, but understands that in most markets Stempniak could’ve expected a bigger contract:

… in a normal market or in a past market [Stempniak’s performance and production] would probably garner him one of those three- or four-year, $2 ½ to $3 million and above level contracts, but the market changed, and it wasn’t there for him. I know how good this player is, and I know how good he’ll be for us, and fortunately it worked. We were able to find a way to make him happy, and we’re thrilled with it.

Stempniak had a career-high 28 goals last season, half of those coming after the Coyotes acquired him from the Maple Leafs late in the season. His 14 goals in Phoenix still ranked fifth on the team. But for Stempniak, the highlight was making the playoffs for the first time in his five-year NHL career. “I learned a lot, and I think I’ve grown as a player because of it,” Stempniak said of his first taste of playoff hockey. “I know how special the playoffs are, and that gives you a lot of motivation to want to be there every year.”

Since Stempniak’s only 27, Maloney and the Coyotes hope he’ll continue to improve. “He is just entering the prime of his career and we look forward to him having continued success with our organization,” Maloney said in a team statement.

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