On Friday, the Phoenix Coyotes will return to the road as they begin a two-game trip with stops in Anaheim and Los Angeles. While there is an obvious advantage to playing in your home arena, the Coyotes welcome the upcoming road trip and the camaraderie that will come with it.
"Getting on the road is where guys become a team," said Coyotes defenseman Paul Mara. "Guys are traveling together, eating together and rooming together and it really builds a sense of togetherness amongst the club."
Coming together as a team is especially important for the Coyotes for two main reasons.
First, the Coyotes are in the middle of training camp and there are plenty of new faces within the Phoenix dressing room. In addition, there are several Coyotes players who are playing their first season with the club and it's important that the team get familiar and comfortable with one another; a process that takes place off the ice as much as it does on it.
Secondly, the Coyotes have an extremely talented roster, but talent on paper doesn't always translate to the ice unless the players develop a 'team-first' attitude. Coyotes general manager Michael Barnett has assembled a team of players who check their ego at the door and play for eachother. By coming together off the ice, the team will be a more cohesive unit on the ice.
"It certainly brings the team together when you go on the road," said Coyotes goaltender Curtis Joseph. "We are in a unique position in that we have a lot of new faces, but everyone is still very comfortable with eachother. This trip will give us some time to get to know eachother a little better."
Last Tuesday, Mike Leclerc suffered a minor groin injury in the first period of the game against the Los Angeles Kings. After being held out of practice yesterday, Leclerc was back on the ice at the Coyotes practice on Thursday. Leclerc will accompany the team on the upcoming road trip and could be ready to play as early as Sunday.
Goaltender Brian Boucher continues to recover from a preseason groin injury. While he will not accompany the team on their upcoming road trip, Boucher will continue his rehab assignment at Glendale Arena with the Coyotes medical staff. His status remains day-to-day.
On October 4, 2005, The Hockey News' annual season opener issue will hit newsstands throughout North America. When hockey fans reach for their copy, they will find Coyotes' head coach Wayne Gretzky along with Shane Doan, Derek Morris, Brett Hull on the cover. Inside the issue, fans will also find a feature story on the "50 Reasons To Be Pumped About The NHL's Return." Reason #33: Gretzky's Back!