Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Nolan sets sights on Phoenix for his return to the NHL

Owen Nolan at the 1997 All Star Game

Sportsnet, TSN and all the websites between are hot on the story of Owen Nolan’s return to the NHL. The winger apparently has settled an outstanding grievance with the Toronto Maple Leafs and freed himself up to play this season.

Desert bound, Nolan will join up with Wayne Gretzky’s crew of past Olympian and World Cup participants.

Stating that he still has a passion for the game, Nolan went through a number of tests to show Coyote management that he is still capable of playing the game at a high level.

For those looking to circle a date on their Hockey Night in Canada calendar, don’t bother. The Coyotes and Leafs won’t meet up unless they play in a Stanley Cup final. This is as they say most doubtful thing, even for the most optimistic of Leaf or Coyote fans.

But for hockey fans, especially those of an Irish persuasion just having the boyo of Belfast back in the game, should make for an exciting season.

Nolan settles & moves on
August 15, 2006

Sportsnet.ca -- The Phoenix Coyotes agreed to terms with Owen Nolan on a one-year contract, Sportsnet has learned, following extensive testing to the forward's health.

Before agreeing to make Phoenix his next destination, Nolan settled his much-publicized grievance with the last team to employ his services: the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Sportsnet has learned the 34-year-old winger settled the $12.1-million grievance on Tuesday ($6.5 million based on Leafs locking out an injured player, remaining $5.6 million based on his player option in 2005/06). However, under the details of the ruling, no details will be disclosed due to a strict confidentiality pact between the two parties.

Nolan told Sportsnet he is "happy and relieved" to put the experience behind him and looks forward to his future with the Coyotes.

After undergoing several MRIs and on-ice testing, the former all-star winger and Canadian Olympic Gold medalist convinced Coyotes management that he still has the passion to continue his career and play at a high level again.

"I am very excited about resuming my career with the Phoenix Coyotes," Nolan said. "The doctors cleared me weeks ago, and physically I have never felt better."

Nolan's summer training regime -- which included two on-ice sessions a day -- has dropped Nolan's weight down to 205-lbs and, more importantly, has left the winger's body pain free.

Nolan's representatives were seeking a deal in the $2-million range. If Nolan has the ability to stay healthy, there's little doubt the 34-year old will add more toughness and scoring to head coach Wayne Gretzky's lineup.

The first overall pick of the Quebec Nordiques in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft, Nolan last played in 2003-04 with the Leafs. The club did not pick up his $5.6-million contract option for the following season, claiming that the forward suffered an injury to his right knee that was not hockey-related. However, the five-time All-Star believes Toronto misdiagnosed the injuries, which originally occurred in April 2004 and were surgically repaired on July 26.

Nolan has recorded 735 points (349 goals, 386 assists) in 915 career games. He has reached the 20-goal plateau nine times during his 14-year career, but numerous injury problems have not allowed the Belfast, Ireland native to play a full 82-game season in the NHL.

***Update***-Nolan signed a one year deal with Phoenix on Wednesday morning, terms of the deal were not released. The official Phoneix Coyotes press release can be found here.

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