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Chayka: Coyotes Must Keep Fighting Through Growing Pains

General Manager John Chayka remains confident in team despite poor start to season

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

NEW YORK -- Coyotes General Manager John Chayka isn't giving up on the 82-game season just because the team is 0-8-1 after nine games.

"It's just growing pains, learning how to win," Chayka told the team's flagship radio station, Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, on Wednesday. "We've shown we can do it in spurts. A lot of these games are coming down to the last 10 minutes and it's a tie game, and unfortunately instead of finding ways to win, we're finding ways to lose. It's a process. We've got a lot of young players and they're trying to find their way. But at the same time, and this sounds like a broken record, we've been in every game pretty much and had a chance to win and that's what we're looking to do."

Arizona will seek its first win on Thursday vs. the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Chayka said if the team continues to put out the same effort it has over the first three weeks of the season, victories will eventually come.

"I don't think effort is the concern whatsoever to date," Chayka said. "I think the guys have dug in, worked hard. We need to get healthy. We need our starting goalie back in the net. We need to get a save at the right time. Whether it's a big goal at the right time or a big save at the right time, for whatever reason we haven't been able to get that. There are times where that's what happens over an 82-game season. Certainly at the beginning of it, you feel it a lot more."

Starting goalie Antti Raanta, who has missed most of the season because of lower-body issues, skated with teammates at Wednesday's practice at Madison Square Garden but likely won't play for a few more games. Meanwhile, forward Brendan Perlini was removed from the injured-reserve list on Wednesday and likely will play on Thursday. 

Chayka praised Head Coach Rick Tocchet for the manner in which he has supported the team during its slump. The team's leadership, Chayka said, is strong.

"We're sticking with it," Chayka said. "Rick Tocchet's done a phenomenal job with the room. The players enjoy playing his style of game. Maybe if we trapped it up and sat back we'd have more wins, potentially, but we're not going to win sustainably into the future playing that way, and that's not playing to our strengths either."

He added: "As for me, I'm not going to try to build a mediocre team. That's just not in my DNA. That's not what I'm about. I'm trying to build a team that can win and be competitive for the foreseeable future. At times that means you take your lumps and you go through some growing pains, but I think it's all worth it in the end. That's certainly our vision and we haven't strayed from that one bit."


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