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Coyotes Open 2010-11 Rookie Camp

by Anthony Perez / Arizona Coyotes
GLENDALE -- The Coyotes dropped the puck on their 2010-11 Rookie Camp on Saturday afternoon at Arena. Twenty-six players took the ice looking to make a positive impression on the organization’s top decision makers, most of whom were watching from seats in the lower bowl.

Photo by Norm Hall
San Antonio Rampage Head Coach Ray Edwards, who is overseeing the camp, worked with the players in a number of areas on the first day, including offensive-zone entries, defending the rush and offensive-zone routes.

After Saturday’s practice, Edwards talked about how the first day was a very long one for the players.

“They were here at 8 a.m. and we did physicals and some fitness testing and there was a meal for them,” Edwards said. “We even watched some video today. I was talking to the coaching staff and we (wanted to) start the structure right away and get people acclimated to how we want to play in both teams, in San Antonio and in Phoenix, so we did a video session with them (and) just talked to them about the opportunities they have here.”

Edwards also described the challenges that the first day of camp presented for many of the players.

“Today’s tough,” Edwards said. “They’re nervous, the gear's new, and they’re trying to get acclimated, so today is a tough day for them to shine. We’ll look for improvement tomorrow and look to see better things tomorrow.”

Photo by Norm Hall
Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson said he was happy to be back in Glendale and practicing with the other rookies.

“It’s fun to be back, fun to practice again and meet all the guys,” Ekman-Larsson said. “It’s good for me to be here and practice with these guys. I look forward to next week (when the veterans join the rookies at camp).”

Defenseman Brandon Gormley, whom the Coyotes selected with the 13th overall pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft, also was excited to be at camp.

“It’s great to be here finally,” Gormley said. “You work hard all summer (waiting) for this to start and we’re all glad to be here.”

The biggest story at this year’s Rookie Camp is the depth on the blue line. A number of top prospects, including Ekman-Larsson and Gormley, are so talented that they will likely get long looks for some open roster spots on the big club.

“We’ve got some higher picks that are here with us,” Edwards said about the competition amongst the defensemen. “And any time you’re in that situation you’re going to vie for that opportunity. Whether it’s Ekman-Larsson, or (Maxim) Goncharov, or Mike Stone, or Gormley; they’re all nice players and they’re all going to push to have an opportunity to play here.”

Photo by Norm Hall
Ekman-Larsson and Goncharov stood out on the first day.

“I hadn’t seen Max yet, but it was great to see him today,” Edwards said. “I heard a lot about Max and the skill-set that he brings. He’s played with men for two years in a man’s league (KHL), and you can tell. And Ollie, he just stands out. He’s going to be a nice player.”

Goncharov welcomes the competition with Ekman-Larsson and the other defensemen.

“It’s good for there to be as many good defensemen as there is on this team, and when you have competition on a team it’s always good for all guys,” Goncharov said.

Defenseman Chris Summers, who has been part of the Coyotes organization since being the 29th overall selection in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, is participating in his first NHL camp after a four-year collegiate career at Michigan.

“It reminded me a lot of the prospect camps in years past,” Summers said. “(There’s) a little bit more competition, obviously, guys are now being evaluated and trying to work for jobs. You can kind of feel that it’s a little testy, but we’re all here playing a sport that we love.”

Ekman-Larsson said making the big club would be a tall task.

Photo by Norm Hall
“There’s a good amount of guys, and a lot of good players here, so it’s going to be tough to make the roster,” he said.

Gormley said it’s essential to come to camp prepared to compete.

“It’s a good chance to make an impression,” Gormley said. “You have to do well and prove yourself here to even go on to the next camp. So as a young player who is coming into his first training camp, you want to do your best and make a good first impression.”

He added, “You want competition. You don’t want anything given to you, and you have to work for every inch of it here. It’s a lot of fun for the players and we’re looking forward to a good camp here.”

Rookie camp workouts continue Sunday and Monday at Arena. They will be followed by home games against the Los Angeles Kings rookies on Tuesday at 6 p.m. and Wednesday at 2 p.m.

The practices and the rookies games are open to the public.

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