GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) – The Phoenix Coyotes suspended rookie forward Enver Lisin without pay Wednesday after he left the organization to play in his native Russia instead of reporting to the minors.

The Coyotes had reassigned the 20-year-old Lisin to their AHL affiliate in San Antonio on Monday. But the right wing returned home where he is expected to play for Ak Bars Kazan in the Russian League.

“We are very disappointed in Enver’s decision to not report to the San Antonio Rampage,” Coyotes general manager Mike Barnett said. “We fully expected him to honor his contract, thus we have no choice but to suspend him as a result of his actions.”

Lisin, a second-round draft pick in 2004, had one goal, one assist and 16 penalty minutes in 17 games with Phoenix after being recalled from San Antonio on Oct. 12. He had two goals in two games for the Rampage earlier this season. But Lisin, who scored his first NHL goal on Nov. 4 against Los Angeles, had trouble playing defense and was a minus-18.

“He has the tools to one day be an NHL player, but his defensive liabilities negated him from playing regularly at the NHL level at this time,” Barnett said.

“We waited two full years after drafting him before bringing him over. We were conscious of not wanting to rush him. It’s not always easy for young players from those countries to adapt to life in America … particularly if it calls for time in the minors. But going there and learning the game is part of being a pro and paying the price.”

AP-ES-11-29-06 2031EST


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