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Coyotes Get Back to Work with Grueling Practice

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes

GLENDALE -- The Coyotes re-assembled on Wednesday for the first time since playing the Dallas Stars on Feb. 8.

The players, minus the team’s five Olympians and defenseman Derek Morris who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, skated for about an hour at Arena. After a short break, they all did circuit training off the ice.

Photo by Norm Hall.

"The plan today was to make them very tired and it didn't take a lot to do that," Head Coach Dave Tippett said after practice. “The first day is about skating lots, from one end to the other, and you try to disguise that as many ways as you can.”

Captain Shane Doan said the practice was challenging.

“That was a hard one today,” Doan said. “We were all tired after that one. It was a tough one but good.”

Tippett is expecting full effort from all players when the regular season reusumes after the Olympics.

“We’re in a 24-game stretch here now that’s going to be very intense,” Tippett said. “Everybody is going to come back rested and ready to go, and if you’re not willing to give everything you have every night in all the aspects of the game we need, then we need to find somebody else to do it better or do it longer."

Doan was asked if he thinks the NHL-mandated 10-day break for the Olympics will serve him well considering his recent bout with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

"I hope it did me a lot of good because I have a lot of ways to improve,” Doan said. “We won't know until the games start."

Defenseman Brandon Gormley, whom the Coyotes recalled from the American Hockey League, was at Wednesday’s practice. With Zbynek Michalek and Oliver Ekman-Larsson still away at the Olympics, Gormley knows he has a brief window of practice time to show he’s ready to make his NHL debut, if not now at some point this season.

"These are the opportunities you wait for and you work for,” Gormley said. “You just have to take advantage of the opportunity."

The Coyotes will practice nearly every day until leaving for Winnipeg next Wednesday. The will play their first post-Olympics game at Winnipeg on Feb. 27.

Regarding Morris, Tippett said he expects to see him on the ice with teammates within the next few days.

With Mike Smith still in Sochi for the Olympics, prospect Chris Rawlings, who is under AHL contract, was the second goalie at Wednesday’s practice. Rawlings is on the Arizona Sundogs roster.

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