GLENDALE – With Coyotes executives and coaches - plus an enthusiastic group of fans - watching from the lower bowl, 36 young players showed off their skills for an hour on the first day of the team’s 2013-14 Rookie Camp at Jobing.com Arena.
“Today was a long day for them,” Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney said. “They came in and had physicals and testing (and then) we threw them on the ice to get them moving around. It was a start. I think tomorrow will be when the real evaluation begins.”
He added, "All in all it was a good day. Nobody dropped dead on us."
The Coyotes invite their younger players to camp a few days before the veterans arrive so they can get comfortable in the building and show their stuff against their peers within the organization.
Maloney estimated that about 4-6 of the young players at this rookie camp "could play" for the Coyotes this season.
Center Andy Miele stood out on the first day.
“I thought every time he had the puck he was in control and it looked easy for him,” Maloney said.
Miele, of course, has been with the organization since 2011 and has eight NHL games on his resume.
Mark Louis, a 6-foot-4 defenseman whom the Coyotes are trying at wing at this camp, also looked good, Maloney said.
Many of the young players, including 2013 first-round draft pick Max Domi, skated on the Jobing.com ice for the first time.
|Photo by Norm Hall. |
“It was unreal,” Domi said. “A couple of us were talking about it, actually, and looking up and we’re like ‘Wow, this is the real deal.’ It’s great. It’s an awesome rink… It was a lot of fun to be out there.”
Defenseman Brandon Gormley, who is one of the more experienced players at the rookie camp, said the first on-ice session was a pretty good one.
“We’re all trying our hardest out there and there were a lot of nerves out there for a lot of guys, but I thought we settled in as the practice went on and it only got better,” Gormley said.
The team’s American Hockey League coaches led the players through various skating and puck-possession drills, and Coyotes Goaltender Coach Sean Burke worked with the young netminders before the skaters took the ice.
“It was definitely a fast pace out there,” forward Henrik Samuelsson said. “(We’re) a little bit tired right now, but it was fun to see some of the guys you met at development camp (in July)… Everyone is serious about making an impression or even trying to make the Coyotes.”
The camp continues on Sunday at 10 a.m. Unlike on Saturday, the 36 players will be divided into two teams and will have separate practices. Between the practices the two teams will scrimmage for 30 minutes.
NOTE: All rookie camp practices are open to the public at no charge. Fans should enter through Gate 3.