GLENDALE – Sixty-two players reported to Gila River Arena on Thursday morning for the first day of Coyotes Training Camp for the 2014-15 season.
The day began with medical and fitness testing and concluded with the players taking part in the annual Media Day (see photos below).
|Don Maloney. Photo by Dave Vest. |
“Everybody is 100 percent (healthy),” General Manager Don Maloney said. “We have no issues whatsoever, which is always important coming into camp. The guys who had the bumps and bruises at the end (of last season) are feeling great.”
Head Coach Dave Tippett was impressed by what he saw as he made ounds to the various fitness stations.
“It’s exciting to walk into that gym and see the size of our players and the fitness of our players,” Tippett said. “It’s a strong indication that guys have put the work in this summer and it’s time to get playing. There's a lot of big guys in there."
He added, “The amount of guys skating together out at the Ice Den for over a month is really strong. That shows the players’ commitment. Now it’s about taking it to the next level… Our group is a very fit group. It’s a good start.”
The 62 players have been divided into three teams for the first few days of camp. Each team will skate for 90 minutes on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Gila River Arena.
“It’s the most (players) that we’ve had since I’ve been here but we’ll still have the same structure,” Tippett said.
There are a handful of roster spots up for grabs, and Maloney and Tippett are eager to see the players – including some younger ones who played well during Rookie Camp – compete for them.
“I think this could be our best depth (at camp),” Tippett said. “For you to be successful in this League you have to develop your young players. They have to push for lineup spots. They have to work their way into the lineup.”
|Keith Yandle on Media Day. Photo by Dave Vest. |
Maloney said age won’t be a factor if the staff decides a player can help the team win now.
“There’s been talk over the last few months about a youth movement and that’s not what we’re trying to do,” Maloney said. “We’re in a winning movement. That’s what we want to get back to. Whether it’s an 18-year-old player or a 40-year-old player, it doesn’t matter to us if he can help us get back to the playoffs. That’s our goal. All in all I’m excited about what we have here... It’s going to be interesting to see who really grabs ahold of the opportunity.”
Captain Shane Doan was all smiles on Thursday as he returned to the arena. This camp will be Doan’s 20th in the NHL – all with the Coyotes franchise.
“I’m excited,” Doan said. “It’s still fun. I love the competition and going out there on the ice and competing on the ice. It’s a blast.”
Goalie Mike Smith, who missed the final 10 games of 2013-14 because of a knee injury, thinks the off-season additions of Sam Gagner, Devan Dubnyk, Joe Vitale and B.J. Crombeen – his old roommate from the ECHL - were good moves for the Coyotes.
“We added some grit to our team and I think that can help in the tough Western Conference,” Smith said. “But our consistency has to be better. As a team we have to consistently play our system a lot better. I think you’ll find that the players we’ve brought in are guys that will buy in. They’re great team guys in the room and they’re guys on the ice that you expect will give 100 percent every game. I think we’ve lacked that the last couple years.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: All training camp practices are open to the public and free. Fans should enter the arena through Gate 3.
MORE MEDIA DAY PHOTOS:
|Mikkel Boedker. Photo by Dave Vest. |
|Sam Gagner. Photo by Dave Vest. |
|Dave Tippett. Photo by Rich Nairn. |
|Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Photo by Dave Vest. |