Maybe one of the more overlooked things about moving a team or franchise is how it impacts the players’ personal lives.
When the Tucson Roadrunners became an entity this summer, that meant a lot of guys were going to be moving to an area that they were highly unfamiliar with.
Brendan Perlini was definitely one of those guys.
The Arizona Coyotes’ first-round pick of the 2014 NHL Draft had only played in places like Detroit, Niagara, and around Canada. Tucson’s a far cry from those places, but he’s enjoying the Old Pueblo so far.
“It’s been good to get a feel for the city, the fans, stuff like that,” Perlini told me after the team’s first five-game homestand. “I really like it. It’s a nice relaxing city and stuff, and I think all the guys like it too.”
Despite having plenty of hockey experience, Perlini is only 20 years old, so it’s a good thing for him that the team plays in a now-bustling Downtown area.
“The Downtown area seems to be going quite a bit,” he explained. “Seems to always be something going on around here, and I kinda like that. It gets you going a bit. Where we live just outside of town is pretty quiet with not much going on, so it’s good to relax.”
Through ten games, Perlini leads the team in goals with six (two off the league-lead), three of those coming on the power play (T-4th in the AHL). This is his first season playing at this level, and his talent is showing early on.
“He’s a young guy and a first round draft pick,” Roadrunners head coach Mark Lamb stated. “He’s got a lot of potential, and he’s gonna be a good player in the NHL, but what he brings is a great attitude and a great work ethic. He’s an unbelievable skater with a great shot.”
Back in August, Brendan Porter of Five For Howling wrote this about Perlini:
Head coach Dave Tippett likes many of the more intangible portions of Perlini’s game, such as his skating and his offensive awareness. And Coyotes Player Development Coach Steve Sullivan believes that some of Perlini’s struggles are mental, and therefore fixable with the right attention.
It’s not hard to see why Perlini was selected at #12 back in 2014; at 6’ 2", 212 pounds, Perlini has the most NHL ready frame of anybody in Arizona’s system. He is physically ready to handle the punishment of high level professional hockey.
As the Roadrunners continue to gain a following in the city, you can bet that Perlini will be one of the biggest reasons why this team sees success in its first year of existence. And then he could end up being similar to Anthony Rizzo, where he came through Tucson, then made a huge mark at the next level immediately after.
The Roadrunners return home to Tucson this weekend as the leaders of the Pacific Division with a record of 7-1-2. The six-game homestand begins with the Manitoba Moose (6-5-1) on Friday and Saturday. Both games are scheduled to start at 7:05 PM MT.