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.
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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
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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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Max Domi talks to Sarah McLellan about offseason goals, plans | 1:16
Arizona Coyotes winger Max Domi talks with Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan about his plans and goals for the offseason as the Coyotes cleaned out lockers on Monday at Gila River Arena. Tom Tingle/azcentral sports
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Coyotes coach Dave Tippett wraps up 2016-17 season | 2:01
Arizona Coyotes coach Dave Tippett sums up the 2016-17 season and looks forward to what is needed to improve next year at a press conference at Gila River Arena on Monday. Tom Tingle/azcentral sports
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Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Wild | 0:31
Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 3-1 loss to the Wild.
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Coyotes conclude season with 3-1 loss to the Wild | 1:50
Coach Dave Tippett, captain Shane Doan, defenseman Zbynek Michalek and goalie Mike Smith react to the team’s final game of the season.
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Coyotes recognize Roadrunners captain Craig Cunningham | 0:50
Roadrunners captain Craig Cunningham was recognized during a ceremonial puck drop before Saturday’s season finale.
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Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Canucks | 0:35
Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 4-3 win over the Canucks.
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Coyotes react to win over Canucks | 1:17
Coach Dave Tippett, winger Radim Vrbata, winger Max Domi, center Alexander Burmistrov and defenseman Luke Schenn react to the win.
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Shot Clock: Young Coyotes standouts provide hope | 1:56
Three players emerge as the Coyotes’ season winds down. Sarah McLellan and Jay Dieffenbach discuss them, the NBA MVP race and more.
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Coyotes fall in overtime to Stars | 0:46
Coach Dave Tippett, winger Max Domi, defenseman Anthony DeAngelo and winger Anthony Duclair react to Tuesday’s 3-2 loss in Dallas. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Stars | 0:28
Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 3-2 overtime loss to the Stars on Tuesday.
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Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Kings | 0:35
Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 2-1 win over the Kings.
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Coyotes eliminate Kings from playoffs with 2-1 win | 1:02
Coach Dave Tippett, goalie Mike Smith, center Alexander Burmistrov and winger Anthony Duclair react to the win.
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Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Capitals | 0:25
Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 6-3 win over the Capitals.
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Coyotes snap losing streak against Capitals | 0:58
Coach Dave Tippett, center Christian Dvorak, goalie Louis Domingue and center Alexander Burmistrov react to the 6-3 win.
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Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Blues | 0:24
Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 3-1 loss to the Blues.
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Coyotes react to 3-1 loss to Blues | 1:14
Coach Dave Tippett, defenseman Alex Goligoski, goalie Louis Domingue and winger Clayton Keller react to the loss.
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Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Blues | 0:33
Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 4-1 loss to the Blues. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Coyotes cap road trip with 4-1 loss to Blues | 0:58
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, winger Clayton Keller, center Alexander Burmistrov and defenseman Anthony DeAngelo react to the loss. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Forward Clayton Keller set to begin pro career with Coyotes | 0:47
Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Coyotes on Sunday, March 26, 2017. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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U.S. women’s hockey team boycotting world championship | 0:52
USA TODAY Sports’ A.J. Perez explains why the USA women’s hockey team is boycotting the upcoming International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship.
USA TODAY Sports
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Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Capitals | 0:33
Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and the minus in the 4-1 loss to the Capitals.
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Capitals pull away from Coyotes with 3-goal third | 0:53
Coach Dave Tippett, goalie Mike Smith and center Jordan Martinook react to the 4-1 loss. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Panthers | 0:29
Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 3-1 loss to the Panthers.
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Unusual goal sparks Panthers to win over Coyotes | 1:15
Coach Dave Tippett, goalie Mike Smith, winger Tobias Rieder and defenseman Jakob Chychrun react to the 3-1 loss.
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Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Lightning | 0:38
Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 5-3 win over the Lightning. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Coyotes rally past the Lightning | 0:54
Coach Dave Tippett, winger Radim Vrbata, winger Christian Fischer and winger Anthony Duclair react to the 5-3 win. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Predators | 0:30
Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 3-1 loss to the Predators.
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Coyotes open road trip with 3-1 loss to Predators | 1:07
Coach Dave Tippett, defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, winger Jamie McGinn and defenseman Zbynek Michalek.
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Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Blues | 0:34
Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 3-0 loss to the Blues.
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Coyotes shut out 3-0 by the Blues | 1:40
Coach Dave Tippett, defenseman Luke Schenn and goalie Mike Smith react to the loss on Saturday at Gila River Arena. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Red Wings | 0:36
Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 5-4 shootout loss to the Red Wings.
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Coyotes clipped by Red Wings 5-4 in a shootout | 1:20
Coach Dave Tippett, goalie Mike Smith, winger Radim Vrbata and defenseman Jakob Chychrun react to the loss.
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Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Kings | 0:31
Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 3-2 shootout win over the Kings, Mar. 14, 2017. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Coyotes outlast Kings in 11-round shootout | 1:08
Coach Dave Tippett, goalie Louis Domingue, defenseman Anthony DeAngelo and winger Max Domi react to the 3-2 shootout win against the Kings, Mar. 14, 2017. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Avalanche | 0:32
Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 1-0 win over the Avalanche, Mar. 13, 2017. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Coyotes blank Avalanche 1-0 | 1:19
Coach Dave Tippett, goalie Mike Smith, captain Shane Doan and winger Brendan Perlini react to the win, Mar. 13, 2017. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Devils | 0:34
Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 5-4 win over the Devils on Saturday.
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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
Max Domi talks to Sarah McLellan about offseason goals, plans
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett wraps up 2016-17 season
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Wild
Coyotes conclude season with 3-1 loss to the Wild
Coyotes recognize Roadrunners captain Craig Cunningham
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Canucks
Coyotes react to win over Canucks
Shot Clock: Young Coyotes standouts provide hope
Coyotes fall in overtime to Stars
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Stars
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Kings
Coyotes eliminate Kings from playoffs with 2-1 win
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Capitals
Coyotes snap losing streak against Capitals
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Blues
Coyotes react to 3-1 loss to Blues
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Blues
Coyotes cap road trip with 4-1 loss to Blues
Forward Clayton Keller set to begin pro career with Coyotes
U.S. women’s hockey team boycotting world championship
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Capitals
Capitals pull away from Coyotes with 3-goal third
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Panthers
Unusual goal sparks Panthers to win over Coyotes
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Lightning
Coyotes rally past the Lightning
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Predators
Coyotes open road trip with 3-1 loss to Predators
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Blues
Coyotes shut out 3-0 by the Blues
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Red Wings
Coyotes clipped by Red Wings 5-4 in a shootout
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Kings
Coyotes outlast Kings in 11-round shootout
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Avalanche
Coyotes blank Avalanche 1-0
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Devils
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.”