Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue debuts new mask | 0:58
Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue explains the design behind his new mask.
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Paul Bissonnette discusses new role with Coyotes | 4:50
azcentral sports’ Jay Dieffenbach talks to former Coyotes player and new Coyotes radio analyst Paul Bissonnette in a special edition of our Shot Clock video.
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Defenseman Jason Demers settling in with Coyotes | 0:39
Defenseman Jason Demers practiced with the Coyotes for the first time Wednesday since getting traded to the team Sunday.
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Coyotes acquire Jason Demers in trade with Panthers | 1:27
Coyotes General Manager John Ckayka and coach Rick Tocchet discuss the trade for defenseman Jason Demers from the Panthers in exchange for winger Jamie McGinn.
Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Stepan on coming to Arizona with new staff, young players | 1:10
Coyotes center Derek Stepan discusses coming to the Coyotes with a new staff and young players on Thursday in Glendale.
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Derek Stepan on ‘superstar’ Ekman-Larsson | 1:06
Coyotes center Derek Stepan calls his new teammate Oliver Ekman-Larsson a “superstar” on Thursday in Glendale.
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Coyotes coach Tocchet on his message to team ahead of camp | 1:54
Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet holds a new conference at media day in Glendale, Ariz.
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Chayka discusses new staff and players at media day | 1:25
Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka discusses their new staff and players at media day in Glendale, Ariz.
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Sarah McLellan interviews new Arizona Coyotes forward Derek Stepan | 1:55
azcentral sports Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan talks with new forward Derek Stepan.
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Coyotes open rookie camp | 1:29
The Coyotes opened rookie camp Thursday at Gila River Arena.
10 of 27
Shane Doan retires | 0:46
Arizona Coyotes star Shane Doan announced his retirement from the NHL on Wednesday.
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Moore, McLellan on the Coyotes entering a ‘new era’ | 1:35
azcentral sports columnist Greg Moore and Sarah McLellan on the Coyotes’ changes on and off the ice.
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Greg Moore on the Coyotes’ changes | 1:33
azcentral sports columnist Greg Moore on the Coyotes’ plan to better engage with Arizona fans.
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Coyotes introduce new coach, president | 42:44
The Arizona Coyotes introduced new coach Rick Tocchet and president Steve Patterson at a news conference in Glendale on July 13, 2017.
Thomas Hawthorne/ azcentral sports
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Shot Clock: Tocchet a good fit for Coyotes? | 1:57
azcentral sports’ Jay Dieffenbach and Sarah McLellan discuss the Coyotes’ coaching situation and the Diamondbacks in our Shot Clock video.
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Dylan Strome works out at Coyotes Development Camp | 0:48
Forward Dylan Strome is a top prospect for the Coyotes. By Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports
16 of 27
Mike Smith rips Coyotes; Cards’ RB ranked | 2:02
azcentral sports’ Jay Dieffenbach and Dan Bickley, discuss former Coyotes goalie Mike Smith’s comments about the team and the NFL Top 100 rankings.
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Coyotes begin prospect development camp | 0:50
The Coyotes’ prospects are skating this week in the Valley as part of the team’s annual development camp.
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Coyotes part ways with coach Dave Tippett | 0:50
Arizona Coyotes part ways with coach Dave Tippett.
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Shot Clock: What does Doan’s dismissal mean? | 1:55
azcentral sports’ Dan Bickley and Sarah McLellan discuss the aftershock of the Coyotes’ decision to part ways with Shane Doan.
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Coyotes part ways with Shane Doan | 0:38
Coyotes captain Shane Doan will not return to the team.
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Coyotes trade starting goalie Mike Smith to Flames | 0:58
Mike Smith leaves Arizona as a record-holding goaltender.
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Which Arizona Coyotes player could be taken by the Vegas Golden Knights? | 1:06
The Coyotes are set to lose one player to Vegas in the NHL expansion draft.
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Coyotes’ Clayton Keller on his first year in the NHL | 1:59
Coyotes rookie Clayton Keller talks with Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan about his first year in the NHL as the team cleans out its lockers following the end of the season on Monday. Tom Tingle/azcentral sports
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Coyotes rookie Christian Dvorak on ‘year of ups and downs’ | 1:40
Coyotes rookie center Christian Dvorak talks with Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan about his ups and downs throughout his first NHL season on Monday. Tom Tingle/azcentral sports
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Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun sums up rookie season | 2:17
Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun discusses his rookie season with Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan at Gila River Arena on Monday. Tom Tingle/azcentral sports
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Shane Doan at Coyotes’ season-ending press conference | 1:54
Arizona Coyotes’ Shane Doan discusses the uncertainty that surrounds his future at a season-ending press conference on Monday at Gila River Arena. Tom Tingle/azcentral sports
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Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue debuts new mask
Paul Bissonnette discusses new role with Coyotes
Defenseman Jason Demers settling in with Coyotes
Coyotes acquire Jason Demers in trade with Panthers
Stepan on coming to Arizona with new staff, young players
Derek Stepan on ‘superstar’ Ekman-Larsson
Coyotes coach Tocchet on his message to team ahead of camp
Chayka discusses new staff and players at media day
Sarah McLellan interviews new Arizona Coyotes forward Derek Stepan
Coyotes open rookie camp
Shane Doan retires
Moore, McLellan on the Coyotes entering a ‘new era’
Greg Moore on the Coyotes’ changes
Coyotes introduce new coach, president
Shot Clock: Tocchet a good fit for Coyotes?
Dylan Strome works out at Coyotes Development Camp
Mike Smith rips Coyotes; Cards’ RB ranked
Coyotes begin prospect development camp
Coyotes part ways with coach Dave Tippett
Shot Clock: What does Doan’s dismissal mean?
Coyotes part ways with Shane Doan
Coyotes trade starting goalie Mike Smith to Flames
Which Arizona Coyotes player could be taken by the Vegas Golden Knights?
Coyotes’ Clayton Keller on his first year in the NHL
Coyotes rookie Christian Dvorak on ‘year of ups and downs’
Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun sums up rookie season
Shane Doan at Coyotes’ season-ending press conference
The Coyotes aren’t ready to shake the work-in-progress label that comes with a massive overhaul like the one they experienced during the summer, but whether or not they start to conform to their new identity with their best player in the mix is currently up in the air.
Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson left Saturday’s preseason 5-4 shootout loss to the Sharks in overtime with a lower-body injury and will be reevaluated Sunday.
Coach Rick Tocchet said it’s too early to tell how serious the issue is.
“I’ve seen sometimes they’re bad, and sometimes a guy comes in, ‘Hey, it feels great,’ ” Tocchet said. “Who knows? It’s a guessing game till they see him tomorrow.”
Ekman-Larsson was injured after getting tied up with San Jose winger Mikkel Boedker and falling to the ice awkwardly near the boards. He struggled to get up and had to be helped off the ice by a medical trainer and defenseman Alex Goligoski, as Ekman-Larsson was moving gingerly.
“I thought maybe it could have been a penalty there,” forward Nick Cousins said. “At the same time, I hope he’s doing all right. Obviously, he’s our best player and we need him for the regular season. I don’t know how he’s doing, but hopefully all the best.”
Tocchet said Ekman-Larsson will not practice Sunday, but he wasn’t scheduled to as the team was going to give him a maintenance day.
“A guy of that caliber, it’s tough,” Tocchet said. “But it’s part of hockey. Hopefully it’s OK.”
Already, the Coyotes are without defenseman Jakob Chychrun, who is sidelined indefinitely after undergoing surgery during the offseason to fix a knee injury that occurred during his summer training – an absence that upped the team’s urgency to acquire Jason Demers in a trade with the Panthers last week.
“Scary,” center Derek Stepan said of Ekman-Larsson getting hurt. “I haven’t even been able to check in, so I know nothing. I haven’t been able to see anything. That sucks. You never want to see any player go down like that.”
Ekman-Larsson’s injury added an uneasy feel to a night that served as a reminder of where the Coyotes are at: in the middle of training camp with a mashup of new and familiar faces trying to learn a different style of play.
Arizona jumped out to an early three-goal lead in the first period after a fortunate bounce off Cousins 30 seconds in, a Stepan wrister at 7:26 with winger Clayton Keller setting the screen and a one-timer from defenseman Luke Schenn at 9:15.
A pair of goals from Boedker at 10:32 and 18:49, with the first on the power play, cut the Sharks deficit to 1 after one, and the Coyotes seemed to rediscover their groove early in the second on Cousins’ second of the game at 1:38. But the Sharks responded with two goals in the period (center Barclay Goodrow at 6:20 and winger Kevin Labanc at 7:44).
“Once we got the three-goal lead, we got away from our game plan,” Cousins said. “We didn’t keep doing what made us successful to get those three goals.”
In the shootout, winger Max Domi was the lone Coyotes player to convert, on a rising backhand, after Keller, Stepan and wingers Brendan Perlini and Conor Garland missed. Center Logan Couture capitalized for the Sharks, as did defenseman Tim Heed for the clincher in Round 5.
“D-zone coverage is not really good,” Tocchet said. “We all know that. We gotta lot of work to do.”
A handful of players were making their preseason debuts, so rust may have been a factor. And although the Sharks comfortably outshot the Coyotes 44-28, the Coyotes weren’t overwhelmed on the scoreboard.
“Preseason or not, I think that’s important as a young group,” Stepan said. “Whether there be dips and valleys within the game, at the end of the game if you have a chacne to win the hockey game, I think (there’s) some good things we can take out of it.”
Certain individuals also stood out, with Cousins scoring twice after playing Friday in Calgary against the Flames.
“I love it,” he said. “It gets you back in shape, and I felt good out there. Believe it or not, sometimes your legs feel better on the end of a back-to-back. We’re going to have to play those in the regular season. You get in late. I got in at 2:30 last night. Not much sleep. I think your adrenaline takes over once the puck drops.”
And the top line with Domi, Stepan and Keller seemed to develop chemistry. Stepan finished with a goal and assist, while Keller had a pair of helpers.
“I think just all three of us obviously have speed,” Keller said. “Max and Stepan are unbelievable players, and you see the plays that they make. It’s just easier for a guy like me to play with them and see how fast they move the puck and how structured they are. It’s a lot easier playing with those two guys.”
The Coyotes have three more preseason games to go during the final week of training camp, and another round of cuts is expected to come in the next few days with the team’s brain trust huddling Sunday.
But the most pressing roster question of all right now is Ekman-Larsson’s availability.
“He’s the star of this team, and he’s definitely someone that I look up to,” Keller said. “It’s bad to see that happen, and I hope he’s OK and he’s able to come back as soon as possible. He’s the face of this franchise and someone I definitely look up to.”
After suffering a lower-body injury during an offseason skate, Connauton was sidelined to start training camp and missed the beginning of the season. Once he returned, he settled into a depth position on defense as he was frequently the odd-man out. Connauton appeared in 24 games, tallying one assist.
Connauton is poised to take on more minutes – at least to start the season. An offseason injury to Jakob Chychrun has opened up a spot on the left side of the third pairing and as a left shot (who can also play the right side), Connauton seems likely to slide into that vacancy while Chychrun heals. How much responsibility he has once Chychrun returns remains to be seen.
The versatile defender is working to earn a regular role on the Coyotes’ blue line.
“I believe in myself,” he said. “I think I’m an every-night guy. I kind of spent the summer forgetting about last year. I think a lot of things didn’t go my way. A lot of it was out of my control. The biggest thing for me is coming in here every day and showing what I can do.”
Why No. 44: “When I got here, it was given to me. I didn’t really have a choice and just had to stick with it.”
Best dressed: “Depends who you’re asking, but Max (Domi) definitely has the most expensive outfits. I’d say ‘O’ (Oliver Ekman-Larsson) is probably the best dressed.”
Favorite social-media follow: “All the boys on Instagram. We got a pretty good banter going back and forth when someone posts a photo.”
Starbucks order: Large black Pike Place.
Airplane activity: Playing the board game Super Tock.
Getting used to a different style of play and new teammates aren’t the only adjustments the Coyotes are having to make in training camp.
They’re also adapting to a change in officiating.
A crackdown on faceoff violations and slashing has headlined the start of preseason action, with the Coyotes noticing the tighter calls in their first game Wednesday against the Ducks.
Eight slashing minors were called with five of those against the Coyotes, while two penalties were whistled after faceoff violations – both against the Ducks.
“It’s definitely very different,” center Christian Dvorak said. “Everyone’s going to have to adjust to the rule and obviously as you can see from the game (Wednesday) and all the preseason games, they’re really calling a lot of penalties for it. So it’s something everyone’s going to have to adjust to so we don’t take penalties because of it.”
Under the tighter enforcement, players aren’t allowed to touch the hash-marks. Although the rule clearly states skates are supposed to avoid contact with the markings on the ice, players had been able to “cheat a little bit with where your skates were,” Dvorak said.
But not anymore.
“You really gotta make sure your skates aren’t touching that line at all, or they’re going to kick you out,” Dvorak continued. “If the winger comes in and he cheats, too, it’s a (delay-of-game) penalty. So you gotta make sure you’re not cheating at all out there.”
Dvorak believes practicing faceoffs every day will help centers get used to not moving up their skates. That repetition could also yield new ways to gain an edge.
“I actually like the faceoff rule more than anything,” coach Rick Tocchet said. “There’s no advantage. Everybody’s gotta be set, their feet, and I think as the season goes on the centermen will get used to it.”
As for slashing, tolerance seems to be shrinking significantly with the amount of penalties being called. Even “love taps,” soft jabs to the hands, are being whistled, a drastic shift on the heels of a noticeable uptick in the tactic in the game in recent years. Last season, Flames star Johnny Gaudreau had to sit out after taking a slash that fractured his finger.
Coaches are trying to help the Coyotes get familiar with these tweaks, showing them video of faceoffs and slashing calls.
“I gotta do a better job of making sure I tell these guys how to defend stick on puck,” Tocchet said. “Guy’s got position on you, just can’t whack him even if it’s a love tap. You just cannot do it, and the faceoffs – same thing. You gotta be set.”
Coyotes fall to Flames
The Coyotes suffered their first loss of the preseason Friday, falling 4-2 to the Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.
Arizona opened the scoring on a power-play goal from winger Mario Kempe at 9:15 of the first, but Calgary scored four unanswered goals to complete its rally. Winger Johnny Gaudreau capitalized on the power play 3:15 after Kempe’s goal, and winger Micheal Ferland put the Flames ahead at 15:42. In the second, Gaudreau scored his second with two seconds remaining in the period and center Mark Jankowski added another power-play tally at 5:51 of the third.
Later in the period, defenseman Dysin Mayo also converted on the power play at 12:27 to make it 4-2. Kempe assisted on the goal, as did defenseman Adam Clendening – his second assist of the game.
Goalie Louis Domingue made 16 saves through two periods, while Adin Hill stopped 15 in the third. Former Coyote Mike Smith, who was traded to the Flames in the offseason, had 15 saves for Calgary.
Center Derek Stepan and his wife Stephanie welcomed their second child Thursday, a daughter.
Stepan is waiting to reveal his daughter’s name until everyone around the couple knows it first. The couple also has a 1-year-old son Max.
“We’re really excited,” Stepan said. “We’re in the trenches right now, but Mom and baby are doing great.”
Position: Left wing.
In his second NHL season, Domi wasn’t as productive as he was as a rookie. He totaled nine goals and 38 points – this after scoring 18 and racking up 52 points in his first year. The other drop-off, which could help explain the decline in scoring, was the amount of games Domi played. He missed eight weeks with a broken bone in his hand after a December fight – an injury that required surgery.
Although he’s only on the brink of his third season, Domi is positioned as a key cog in the Coyotes’ offense. His speed and skill can be difficult to corral, and it’s likely he takes on a top-line role for Arizona. What could help him rebound offensively this season is potentially playing with center Derek Stepan, who could increase Domi’s scoring chances by feeding him the puck.
Improving his conditioning has been an early priority for Domi.
“Once that gets back, then you start to work on the team dynamic of trying to remember the systems and how to execute them,” he said.
Why No. 16: Former NHLer Bobby Clarke, who has Type 1 diabetes like Domi, wore No.16 when he played.
Best dressed: Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Favorite social-media follow: Teammates. “You look at the comments, and everyone’s all over each other.”
Starbucks order: Black tea.
Airplane activity: “Some sort of recovery.”
Lost then found
Coyotes backup goalie Louis Domingue changed his equipment theme over the summer, deciding to go with black pads and a black matte mask for the upcoming season.
“Your gear looks sick,” assistant equipment manager Denver Wilson told Domingue as Domingue was getting ready to go on the ice Sept.5 for an informal skate with his teammates.
“Yeah, you should see it with my mask on,” Domingue said.
But Domingue couldn’t find his mask to complete the look.
It wasn’t in his locker stall, nor in his hockey bag even though he knew he packed it when he left Quebec, where he spends his summers, to return to the Valley.
“It was stolen,” Domingue said.
The mask had gone missing en route to the Valley from Montreal during his trip back to Arizona, forcing Domingue to use his backup mask for the start of camp and put in a request to his painter to design a new one.
But the mask wasn’t gone for good.
Domingue debuted his new lid Wednesday after being reunited with it earlier in the week.
“I got my mask,” he said.
The mask was located in Dallas at an American Airlines warehouse that houses lost-and-found items. Domingue had a brief layover in Dallas after flying out of Montreal before arriving in Phoenix, but he felt his mask never made it to Dallas with him.
He believes it was taken out of his bag in Montreal and that after he tweeted about the mask’s disappearance, whoever took it got spooked and threw it on a flight to Dallas where it was supposed to go initially. The airline reached out to Domingue last week to tell him it had been found.
“I told the whole Twitter world to help me out,” he said. “I knew it was going to work because the guy wasn’t going to do anything with it. He had no chance. He puts it on the internet, he’s done, right?”
In the meantime, the Coyotes contacted Montreal police and American Airlines to start an investigation with the hope of looking at video footage to help locate the mask. During this process, the mask was found but the investigation is ongoing to find out what happened.
Situations like this have happened in the past with marked hockey bags on commercial flights, but team director of security Jim O’Neal said, “It’s rare.”
Before the mask was returned, Domingue had a new mask in the works. He said he might auction it off now that he can wear his original one.
David Gunnarsson painted the mask, which includes the Coyotes’ Kachina logo, Wile E. Coyote, glow-in-the-dark eyes and a picture of Domingue’s daughter Mila. It also has a crack in the middle from a Max Pacioretty shot that Domingue took just 45 minutes after he first wore it.
“It’s pretty cool,” Domingue said. “The colors on there are awesome.”
Back to Glendale
The Coyotes will return to Gila River Arena Friday for practice after temporarily relocating to the Ice Den in Scottsdale because of poor ice conditions that caused the cancellation of one of their preseason games.
After shifting training camp to Scottsdale last Saturday due to a concert that day at Gila River Arena, the Coyotes have remained at the Ice Den and had to cancel Monday’s preseason tilt against the Kings while the ice was fixed. The ice is ready to go, and the Coyotes will be able to play their preseason game Saturday against the Sharks at home as originally scheduled.
“Last weekend, AEG Facilities, which serves as the manager for Gila River Arena, determined that poor ice conditions precluded the team from playing its first preseason game on Monday, September 18 versus the Los Angeles Kings,” Coyotes President and CEO Steve Patterson said in a statement released by the team. “The problem has since been corrected and a new sheet of ice has been installed. The Coyotes preseason game against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday, September 23 will take place as planned.
“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank our fans and corporate partners for their patience and understanding throughout this process. We look forward to seeing everyone at our game on Saturday.”
- Defenseman Luke Schenn didn’t practice Thursday, taking a maintenance day. The team’s health overall a week into camp is “pretty good,” coach Rick Tocchet said, with only a few players dealing with sore groins. “But that’s just recovery,” Tocchet said. “That’s why I stress recovery round here. You gotta make sure you do the right things off the ice to prepare yourself for the next day.”
- Tocchet praised wingers Christian Fischer and Clayton Keller after both had three-point efforts in Wednesday’s 5-1 preseason win over the Ducks. “They had a nice game,” he said. “I thought they were pushing the pace.”
- Tocchet liked the speed from certain players in the game and how the team transitioned. He also noticed some systems work he’s been teaching show up in the action, but the team still has to focus on breakouts and defensive-zone coverage, he said. As the preseason continues, Tocchet is paying attention to hockey IQ and how consistent players compete shift to shift.
- With Tocchet in Calgary Friday for the team’s next preseason game against the Flames, the Tucson Roadrunners coaching staff from the American Hockey League will run practice Friday for the players who didn’t make the trip.
This was Schenn’s first season with the Coyotes after signing a two-year, $2.5 million contract last summer. Acquired as a hard-nosed defender who could help the team win battles in its own end, Schenn moved around the lineup but did spend a chunk of the season playing on the top pairing with Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He ended up with a goal and seven assists in 78 games.
Look for Schenn to slot into the third pairing on the right side when he plays. How much action he sees, however, remains to be seen, as the Coyotes also have Adam Clendening in position to vie for minutes in that role with Niklas Hjalmarsson and Jason Demers poised to line up on the top-two pairings.
With the arrival of a new coaching staff, Schenn wants to prove himself and gain the coaches’ trust.
“I’m not old,” he said. “I’m not young. I’m in between, but I still feel I can improve.”
Why No. 2: “My dad wore No.2 when he played hockey. I’ve been No.2 my whole life. I think I was No.2 15 or 16 years up until I went to play with the Kelowna Rockets. At that time, Shea Weber was wearing No.2, and then I took 5 and then I went to Toronto and went back to 2. In Philadelphia, 2 was retired because of Mark Howe and then L.A. 2 was taken. Two became available again, and I’m back at ‘er.”
Best dressed: Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Favorite social-media follow: Barstool Sports.
Starbucks order: Vanilla almond milk latte.
Airplane activity: “Sometimes I listen to music. Sometimes I read the odd book, watch the odd TV show. Honestly, a lot of it I just like talking to guys. I like getting to know guys a little bit.”
The Coyotes opened their preseason schedule Wednesday with a 5-1 win over the Ducks at Honda Center in Anaheim that was backed by three-point performances from wingers Christian Fischer and Clayton Keller.
Just 24 seconds into the game, Fischer opened the scoring, but the Ducks’ Max Jones tied it at 1 on the power play at 3:12. During a three-goal second period by Arizona, Keller pushed the Coyotes ahead at 5:10 before Fischer’s second of the game made it 3-1 at 14:32. Winger Max Domi added a fourth at 17:32, a goal that was assisted by Keller. In the third, Keller capped off the scoring with 1:22 to go on the power play – a goal that was set up by Domi and Fischer.
Goalie Louis Domingue made 20 saves through the first two periods, while Hunter Miska stopped all three shots he faced in the third.
Demers settling in
The setup was similar with assistant coach Scott Allen strategizing on the whiteboard while defenseman Jason Demers stood among the players watching the instructions.
But the setting wasn’t, as the two were now with the Coyotes instead of the Panthers.
“He wrote up the same drill,” Demers said. “He hasn’t gotten any more creative on the drills. A nice 2-on-2 rush drill, so it’s great.”
Demers practiced for the first time with his new team Wednesday at the Ice Den in Scottsdale after getting traded from Florida to Arizona Sunday in exchange for winger Jamie McGinn. Allen is a familiar face, as he was with the Panthers before joining the Coyotes’ coaching staff over the summer, but the timing of Demers’ arrival also helps the transition.
“It’s nice to get in and meet everybody through training camp and kind of go through the growing pains together,” Demers said. “It’s good. I’d rather that than I was traded 20 games in, and it takes a while to kind of mix with everybody. So it’s nice here. Now I can meet everybody and get used to everybody.”
Added as a two-way defender who can get up ice as he eats up minutes, Demers moved as-advertised in his first session with the Coyotes.
“He had good feet out there. He skates,” coach Rick Tocchet said. “Saw him talking to some of the younger defensemen. I like seeing that. I talked to him about taking a real good leadership role. He embraced it, so I liked that he did it today in practice.”
Tocchet plans to get Demers adjusted to the team for a few days before putting him into a game where the Coyotes are hoping to play an up-tempo style that is coaxed along by defensemen like Demers.
“It’s all trending that way, jumping in the rush and closing off quick and fast-paced,” Demers said. “That’s the way the league’s trending. You either get with it or get out of the way. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
In his first NHL season, Dvorak impressed as a reliable two-way center. He cracked the initial lineup but began to flourish once his confidence grew after playing more games. Overall, he led the team’s rookies in goals (15) and points (33). His 471 faceoff wins ranked second in the league among all rookies. That output was also the most in team history for a rookie since the franchise relocated to Arizona in 1996.
After a strong debut, Dvorak has solidified himself as an NHL center. He has a battery of tools – offensive flair, defensive awareness and faceoff proficiency – and the potential to continue to become a standout center. The arrival of Derek Stepan should help Dvorak’s development; Stepan can act as a mentor and is poised to take on the tougher assignments, which can put Dvorak in situations where he can continue to showcase his strengths. And that’ll be vital to avoiding a second-year setback.
Dvorak wants to pick up where he left off last season as a confident, productive player, so he’s focused on getting in “top-notch shape.”
“Keep improving every day,” he said, “so I can be the best player I can be and help the team win.”
Why No. 18: “The Coyotes gave it to me when I got drafted here.”
Best dressed: Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Favorite social-media follow: “I mostly follow close friends.”
Starbucks order: “I actually don’t go to Starbucks. Sorry.”
Airplane activity: Watch movies and TV shows and play cards.
Time to play
The Coyotes are in the process of an on-ice makeover, as they adapt to new coach Rick Tocchet’s aggressive, fast-paced style of play.
Tocchet hopes bits and pieces of that strategy start to pop up in the team’s play when it takes to the ice Wednesday for its first preseason game in Anaheim against the Ducks.
He also wants to notice the Coyotes’ identity.
“We have to be a competitive team,” he said. “I don’t care if it’s exhibition game, practice, regular season or first game of the playoffs. The intensity, the work ethic, our concepts can’t be compromised. We’re starting with a clean slate for everybody, and the work ethic on Wednesday night – I want to see that regardless. If we’re going to lose, I don’t know. But I want to see the competitiveness of a Coyotes team.”
Arizona’s preseason action was supposed to kick off Monday at home against the Kings, but the game was canceled due to poor ice conditions at Gila River Arena. Tocchet and his staff had planned out the lineups for all of their preseason games weeks ago but have made some tweaks for Wednesday’s game.
The preseason is a preview of potential line combinations and special-teams play. Tocchet hasn’t wanted to overwhelm players with systems talk, instead preferring them to try to showcase their strengths.
“We’ll give them the basics,” Tocchet said. “But to me, it’s just let the players play.”
He also wants to see how the team’s junior-bound prospects perform; in the case of a seasoned veteran like defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, Tocchet said he had no problem asking Hjalmarsson how many games he wanted to play.
Regardless, though, of who’s in the lineup, Tocchet will be paying attention to what kind of tone the Coyotes set on the ice.
“I want a relentless, competitive team,” he said.
After signing a two-year, $2.1 million contract in 2016, Domingue debuted as Arizona’s full-time back. He was quickly ushered into the No.1 role, though, after an early-season injury to previous starter Mike Smith. Domingue struggled, managing just four wins in 11 starts. At one point, he was 5-14-1 with a save percentage below .900. But Domingue rebounded before the regular season ended, winning six of his last seven starts. He finished 2016-17 with an 11-15-1 record, 3.08 goals-against average and .908 save percentage.
Starter Antti Raanta is poised to handle the bulk of the games, his first full season as a No.1. Raanta has been a stout backup in the past and is deserving of this opportunity, but how well he adjusts to the responsibility could affect Domingue’s workload. Being ready to play, regardless of how sporadic his appearances may be, will be key.
Domingue is looking to get to know his new goaltending partner, but he is also eager to send a message with his own play.
“I want to set a pace,” Domingue said. “I want to show my team that I’m getting better and helping out the team.”
Why No. 35: “It was given to me. I don’t think you should ever ask for a number. For a young guy, just be happy to be there and take whatever’s given and go with it.”
Best dressed: Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Favorite social-media follow: Barstool Sports.
Starbucks order: Black coffee.
Airplane activity: Playing the board game Super Tock.
Position: Left wing.
After a solid start to the season in the minors, Perlini was called up to the Coyotes in December to make his debut. He made a relatively seamless transition to the NHL, impressing with a dynamic wrist shot that helped him end up with 14 goals in 57 games. Perlini also had a 15.2 shooting percentage, which ranked fourth among NHL rookies who played at least 40 games.
It looks like Perlini has a hold on a roster spot after making an impact in 2016-17. Second years can be a challenge, with other teams now knowing what to expect from players who may have surprised as rookies, but Perlini’s skill set – particularly his shot – is unique. If he continues to find time and space to unleash the puck, he could easily be a steady contributor like he was a year ago.
Amid a summer of change, Perlini wants to get to know his new teammates and the coaching staff while also rediscover his timing on the ice.
“Nothing too crazy,” he said. “Just get back into it and having fun again.”
Why No. 11: “My dad had it retired over in England. Over there, he always wore 9 or 19, and they give No.11 to usually the best player or the top goal scorer. So me and my brother always grew up (seeing) 11 Perlini hanging in the stands. So that’s why I wear it.”
Best dressed: Defenseman Jakob Chychrun.
Favorite social-media follow: Cristiano Ronaldo.
Starbucks order: “I don’t go to Starbucks.”
Airplane activity: “Last year I played FIFA a lot with (Alexander) Burmistrov. This year I’m probably going to read. I’m really into reading.”
New Coyotes defenseman Jason Demers found out he’d been traded to Arizona from Florida Sunday by Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon, but he didn’t learn all the details of the deal until he talked to the player who he ended up getting traded for: winger Jamie McGinn.
Demers and McGinn know each other, having played previously together in San Jose with the Sharks. The two had a FaceTime chat after the trade.
“He was excited that he was coming here, so he could play with me,” McGinn said. “I let him know that I was the one going the other way, so he didn’t know.”
McGinn was told he was getting traded after he showed up at the Ice Den in Scottsdale Sunday morning for practice.
“I thought I was being called in to say that they were happy with how I came in prepared ready for training camp and everything,” McGinn said. “First thing (GM) John (Chayka) said was, ‘We made a trade today,’ and I’ve been part of trades before so I knew what was coming next. Caught me off-guard but very excited.”
Richardson got off to a solid start in 2016-17 as one of the Coyotes’ most productive forwards, posting nine points in his first 16 games. His five goals through that span were tied for the second-most on the team. But Richardson’s season ended abruptly Nov.17. He fractured tibia and fibula bones in his right leg after going down awkwardly on his leg following a hit. Richardson underwent surgery and also had another procedure in the spring to remove screws from his leg.
The veteran hopes to be the same player he was before the injury, if not a better version. A responsible two-way center who can win faceoffs, Richardson has fulfilled a valuable role for the Coyotes ever since he signed in 2015. And with a youthful forward group, his ability to stabilize his line while also being a role model could be key.
After such a long layoff from game action, Richardson is focused on getting back in the rhythm of just playing hockey and not thinking about the injury.
“I’m just trying to go out and play and feel good and get comfortable and be in the spots I need to be in to be successful,” he said.
Why No. 15: “No real reason. I’ve had it since literally I started hockey. I had to give it up a couple times in my NHL career and wore 12. But as soon as I have a chance, I go back to 15.”
Best dressed: Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Favorite social-media follow: “I have a goal to play the top 100 (golf) courses in the world, so I follow golf stuff and the courses that pop up. I’m like, ‘Yeah, that’s a new one.’ So I have a list, cross them off when I play them. I like seeing all the golf courses.”
Starbucks order: Skinny vanilla latte.
Airplane activity: “Sometimes I play cards. A lot of times me and Schenner (defenseman Luke Schenn) just sit there and talk and break down things. Sometimes we’re watching movies and shows. This year Curb Your Enthusiasm is coming back on, so I’ll definitely be watching Curb. I’m sure I’m going to play a lot more cards, too.”
Blast from the past
A familiar face from the past stopped by Coyotes training camp Saturday, as former player Jeremy Roenick was spotted watching the action.
“Yeah, he text me,” coach Rick Tocchet said. “He wanted to bring his skates. I said, ‘Don’t bring them.’ “
Tocchet and Roenick played together for the Coyotes in the late ’90s before the two reunited with the Flyers during the 2001-02 season. The two made a memorable impression on the Valley as players, and Roenick, who stopped to sign autographs Saturday, said previously Tocchet was the reason he went to Philadelphia.
“He’s a terrific friend,” Tocchet said. “He lives here, so he wants to see the Coyotes do well. He’s rooting for everybody here. So it’s nice to see him around. He’s always smiling, so it’s great to see J.R. I love the guy, great guy.”
The pace of practice was better than what Tocchet saw Friday, he said, with the likes of defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Alex Goligoski leading the charge.
“Some guys had anxiety (Friday),” Tocchet said. “They don’t know what to expect. But I think today I saw, especially some of our older guys, they were pushing the pace today, and I really liked that.”
Tocchet said winger Mario Kempe has great speed and is on his radar. Kempe, who played in the Kontinental Hockey League last season, signed a one-year, two-way contract in May.
“He’s a good player,” Tocchet said. “He’s done a nice job out there.”
Ekman-Larsson had what he called an “off year” in 2016-17. He scored 12 goals and finished with 39 points, both of which were his lowest outputs since 2013. His minus-25 was also a team-worst, as was his shot differential at 5-on-5 (-273). Ekman-Larsson broke his left thumb in late November but continued to suit up. He played the season knowing his mother Annika was battling cancer and eventually took a leave of absence ahead of the team’s final three games to return to Sweden following her death.
It’ll be interesting to see how Ekman-Larsson rebounds from a tough season, but he could be primed to make a splash. The fast-paced, aggressive style coach Rick Tocchet wants to play suits Ekman-Larsson’s offensive flair. Slotting new defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson on the top pairing next to Ekman-Larsson could also be a boost, as Hjalmarsson’s stable presence should complement Ekman-Larsson’s playmaking ability.
After an overhaul during the offseason, Ekman-Larsson wants to get to know his new teammates.
“It’s a little bit weird to walk in the locker room, to be honest with you,” he said. “Not feeling super comfortable but at the same time, it keeps you on your toes and I think that’s good. I’ve been here for seven years, and I think changes are good sometimes and I feel like this comes at a good time. I’m super excited about that.”
Why No. 23: “I had a friend that I played back home with in Sweden when we were juniors. He passed away 11 or 12 years ago, and he was wearing No.23. That’s why I’m wearing it now.”
Best dressed: “That’s an easy one. Me.”
Favorite social-media follow: “I like to stay in touch with my friends back home.”
Starbucks order: Hot chocolate with whipped cream.
Airplane activity: “I watch some movies and TV shows and stuff like that. I like to just walk around and talk to the guys. I do that a lot, too.”
Watch and learn
Not only did the Coyotes get on the ice for their first practice of training camp Friday, but they also hunkered down to watch video.
But the majority of the clips that flashed on the screen weren’t of their play. Instead, much of the session studied the Penguins.
“We’re playing a different game,” winger Max Domi said. “We’re not playing the same game as last year. Last year didn’t work for us. We’re switching that up and can’t watch the video of what you did last year if you’re not doing that. There’s no other option. You gotta watch other video.”
Teams don’t normally study other teams this much as they embark on a new season, but the Coyotes are in a unique position. New coach Rick Tocchet is trying to get Arizona to adopt the up-tempo style of play he helped coach in Pittsburgh as an assistant, and he’s relying on footage of how the Penguins operate until he builds up a library of Coyotes clips.
“They’re Stanley Cup champions back-to-back years,” center Derek Stepan said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of teams are watching them. They have a system that works. It’s won twice, and our league’s all about winning.”
Stepan actually experienced a similar situation when he was in New York with Alain Vigneault showing video of his former team, the Canucks, as he settled in as coach of the Rangers after John Tortorella’s departure.
“Tocch said once we get some games in, he’ll cut the Pittsburgh stuff out,” Stepan said. “But right now, it’s a tool and we have the best part of the tool – the guy who was right in the middle of it all.”
Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet holds a new conference at media day in Glendale, Ariz.
Day 1 of camp stressed defensive-zone coverage and breakouts. Tocchet wants players to defend in layers, doubling up on the puck to force turnovers and cut down on time and space.
As for getting up the ice, he expects a four-man attack with the lone player back providing support up the middle.
“As you turn that puck over, everyone’s involved in the play and you just outnumber their team in your zone, the neutral zone and the offensive zone as well,” Domi said. “Overall, it’s a lot of moving and it was tough on the ‘D’ today. But it’s fun to be a part of.”
This kind of approach certainly looks like it’ll suit a puck-moving defender like Oliver Ekman-Larsson, but even he acknowledged it’ll take some time to get used to playing this way after adhering to a different style for the past seven years.
“It’s hard for us ‘D’,” Ekman-Larsson said. “We gotta lead the play and get up. But at the same time, it’s a lot of fun because you want to be a part of the game.”
Conditioning will be key; Tocchet said there’s work to be done with the group, and the pace needs to be faster.
“You gotta be in shape to play a fast style,” he said. “You can’t rest, 30, 40-second shifts are very important. I don’t want guys resting and slowing the game down. There’s some guys out there that came in really good shape. There’s some guys that were just OK. They’re going to have to learn to push the pace of play.”
Getting by a defender and skating up ice is a mindset, Tocchet said, but preparation and recovery off the ice will also be essential. He plans to keep reminding players about the value of the latter two.
“To play here, you’re going to have to be in shape,” Tocchet said. “And we will be in shape, for sure.”
Tocchet praised defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, mentioning Hjalmarsson “does all the right things,” is first in line and also puts the time in at the gym. “That’s why he is who he is, and it’s good to have a guy like that because we have young guys who can follow him,” Tocchet said.
The Coyotes were split up into three groups. Some interesting duos: Domi worked with Stepan, Hjalmarsson was paired with Kevin Connauton and Ekman-Larsson skated at times with Adam Clendening. The thinking behind the rosters was to mix veterans and rookies.
- Center Nate Schnarr wore a non-contact jersey as he was limited in some drills due to injury.
- Saturday’s session will focus on offensive-zone coverage and neutral-zone play, while the Coyotes will start to work on special teams Sunday and Monday.
Raanta appeared in 30 games last season for the Rangers as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup. He went 16-8-2 with a 2.26 goals-against average, .922 save percentage and four shutouts. The Coyotes acquired Raanta, along with center Derek Stepan, in a late June trade that sent defenseman Anthony DeAngelo and the 2017 No.7 pick to the Rangers.
This will be Raanta’s first season as a starting goalie, an opportunity he’s merited after four years of steady play as a No.2. In 94 career games, Raanta is 47-23-9 with a 2.32 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. It’ll be interesting to see how he reacts to a heavier workload, as he typically played only sporadically with the Rangers and, before then, the Blackhawks. What could help Raanta make this transition is the experience he banked working alongside some of the NHL’s premier goalies in Lundqvist and Chicago’s Corey Crawford.
Getting familiar with his new teammates and the Coyotes’ staff is an objective for Raanta. He also wants to prove he’s ready for action.
“You want to make some saves,” he said.
Why No. 32: “I was playing under-20s back at home (in Finland), and that was the first time when I got to choose the number. So I was like, ’32 looks good.’ After that, I went to the first league in Finland and got 32, but I was so young. There was somebody coming from North America. He came to play with us, and he wanted to have 32 so I had to change it. I didn’t play with 32 a couple years, and then I switched teams and they asked me what number I want to be. Thirty-two, it’s followed me since that. I went to Chicago in 2013. We just won the Finnish championship. I was wearing 32, so kind of good luck number. I went to Chicago (and) Michal Rozsival was wearing 32, so I was kind of bummed out about that. So I played with 31 in Chicago and when I got traded to New York, first thing of course was asking the trainers what number is available. Thirty-two came from that, and same thing this summer. When I got traded, I emailed (head equipment manager) Stan (Wilson) straight away and asked, ‘Is 32 open?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, I think so.’ So I said, ‘Put me in that.’ It’s just something that has been following me all the time and if it’s available, I try to get it.”
Best dressed: Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Favorite social-media follow: “I think Roberto Luongo is pretty funny. He’s one of those guys he’s saying those things what you think but you don’t want to say because you kind of think it’s not proper, yet I think he’s always so on the money. And on those comments he has that humor where he makes fun of himself, so I think that’s a great thing to have and he’s pretty fun to follow.”
Starbucks order: “Iced macchiato. They’re pretty good, but I try to go with the light version not with the whipped cream and everything.”
Airplane activity: “I usually download lots of movies and television shows. When there’s lots of turbulence, I try to put some music on and try to close my eyes and get away from it. But it’s getting better all the time. When I got here, when I got to the U.S., I wasn’t afraid of flying at all. But when you start flying so much and you feel every flight, there’s turbulence going on so you start to get a little nervous so just try to forget you’re on the plane and listen to some Finnish songs and try to feel like you’re back at home safe and sound but lots of movies and lots of TV shows.”
New year, new look
The Coyotes debuted a new look at training camp when players reported Thursday.
So did winger Max Domi.
Gone was his trademark beard from last season, and he also was sporting a different hair style.
“Decided to clean it up,” Domi said.
The 22-year-old ditched the beard in July as part of a fundraiser to raise funds for diabetes research. He said he raised $70,000. Domi has Type 1 diabetes.
“Pretty pricey beard, I guess,” Domi said. “But you know what? I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
As for his new hair ‘do, Domi said, “I have the worst hair in the NHL probably when it comes too the feel of it. It’s just really thick and really curly. You can’t really go with the long hair, the flow look, because it just ends up becoming an afro. Not that there’s anything wrong with an afro, but I didn’t really want to go with that. It doesn’t fit in the helmet too well, especially when you already have a big head. So decided to keep ‘er clean. I think it shapes my head nice, just a little bit of a puff on top, a little bit of character and everything else was just a nice fade.”
Center Derek Stepan and winger Clayton Keller aren’t in the same group to start camp, but the two skated in the lead-up to camp and Stepan was impressed by the rookie.
“He’s got that (Johnny) Gaudreau, (Patrick) Kane-esq type motion on the ice, that vision and kind of slow pace that makes it look easy but he’s flying,” Stepan said. “He’s got the tools. In my short four skates with him, you can see there’s no beating around the bush. This guy’s got a lot of talent, a lot of skill and even in those short little skates he surprised me with how hard he competes without the puck.”
Former Coyotes Keith Tkachuk and Jeremy Roenick have reached out to coach Rick Tocchet since he’s returned to the organization.
“Who can still play? That’s a good question,” Tocchet said. “I don’t know. A couple guys put some weight on. We’ll have J.R. do the media. That’s all we need J.R. for.”
The veteran defenseman continued to play his shutdown role for the Blackhawks, spending much of the season on the team’s top defensive pairing alongside Duncan Keith. He had five goals and 18 points in 73 games. An impressive shot-blocker, Hjalmarsson got in front of 181 pucks last season to rank sixth in the NHL. The number was also a team-high and career-best total. Arizona acquired Hjalmarsson June 23 in a trade that sent defenseman Connor Murphy and center Laurent Dauphin to Chicago.
Hjalmarsson was added to fill out the Coyotes’ top pairing next to Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The two have played together internationally before with Sweden, and Hjalmarsson’s stay-at-home presence could complement Ekman-Larsson’s offensive flair – although Hjalmarsson could also get up in the rush under new coach Rick Tocchet’s style. Not only should his defending help Arizona’s unit, but his leadership as a three-time Stanley Cup champion is poised to be a significant asset for a young team.
After an offseason trade, Hjalmarsson is looking to get familiar with his surroundings.
“A new city,” he said. “The players, the coaches, the rink … everything.”
Why No. 4: “I always felt like Number 4 is a good defensive number. Just looking back who’s been wearing it before, I think that’s the reason.”
Best dressed: “I haven’t really spent that much time, so I can’t really say. It’s too early.”
Favorite social-media follow: “I just follow my closest friends back home.”
Starbucks order: Tall dark roast.
Airplane activity: “Watching a lot of TV shows. We’ll see if I can mix in at least one book so I can get back to reading a bit. But mostly just TV shows.”