GLENDALE – The Coyotes will take the ice for the first day of their 2013-14 training camp on Thursday united in one goal: Getting back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
|Don Maloney on Media Day.
“Last year we weren’t good enough (and) we missed the playoffs,” General Manager Don Maloney said on Media Day, less than 24 hours before the team took the ice inside Jobing.com Arena for the first time this season. “That’s not acceptable to us. So, the good thing is we have a really strong group behind us and now it’s up to us all to do a better job, get to the playoffs and see what we can do.”
Head Coach Dave Tippett agreed.
“I look at last year as a failure for our group (and) we’ve got to correct that,” Tippett said. “I’ve talked to a lot of our players this summer (and) we want to be a team that’s in the playoffs every season.”
Fifty-eight players - 35 forwards, 17 defensemen and six goalies - are on the roster for this year’s camp. They have been divided into three teams for the first five days of camp.
“We’re going to have good practices with smaller groups for the first couple of days to make sure that we start to get some structure in place,” Tippett said. “New players that haven’t been here before (will) start to get an idea of how we want to play.”
Some of those new players include forwards Mike Ribeiro, Guillaume Latendresse, Brandon Yip and Max Domi, and backup goalie Thomas Greiss.
Goalie Mike Smith, who signed a lengthy contract extension over the summer, is eager to get started.
“There’s a lot of exciting things that happened this summer and I think everyone is excited to get camp started on a high note this year,” Smith said. “I think everyone is pumped up.”
|Mike Ribeiro |
Ribeiro, who is expected to be the team’s first-line center, also is ready to begin a new chapter in his career.
“It’s great to start a new season with a new team and waking up with sun every day,” Ribeiro said. “I think that’s a plus and I’m anxious to start the training camp. One of my goals is to win a Cup and I believe with the coaching staff we have here, and the players, that we’re going in the right direction. I’m happy to be here and help them.”
Smith, who played with Ribeiro with the Dallas Stars, believes the crafty playmaker will help the Coyotes immeasurably.
“’Ribs’ is a really good player and a really good guy off the ice,” Smith said. “… He’s definitely going to bring a lot of patience on the ice. He’s a guy that can play on the power play (and) play in most situations. He’s a great guy to have on our team and join the mix.”
Captain Shane Doan said the Coyotes would enter camp focused on being a higher-scoring team.
“We need to score more and we need to have it so maybe our defense isn’t leading us in scoring all the time because what takes some of the pressure off of them and takes some of the pressure off our goaltending,” Doan said.
A fast start, Doan said, will be key to a successful season.
|Shane Doan. Photo by Norm Hall. |
“It seems every year at the end of January, February, March we seem to dial it up and we get our system, and we seem to get more comfortable with it (and) we dominate more and more as the year goes on,” Doan said. “We’ve got to get into it quicker (this season) and take advantage of the type of coaching that we have and the abilities we do have.”
The team started Media Day with a pep talk from new co-owners George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc.
“Obviously, they were representing our ownership group and said the right things (such as) ‘We’re just here to win. That’s what we want to do - bring a Cup to the Valley and that’s the goal.’ That was a great message to kick-off the season,” Maloney said.
He added, “It’s a great feeling around here. The stability that we now have, that we haven’t had for four years, we all feel like it’s a breath of fresh air. (It’s) a new beginning for all of us.”
NOTE: Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the team MVP from last season, will miss the first few days of camp because of immigration issues.
“We’re just waiting for him to get his visa back,” Maloney said. “Hopefully it’s sooner rather than later.”