The Coyotes changed their lines on Monday in preparation for their season opener on Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Jobing.com Arena.
Captain Shane Doan will skate on a line with rookie center Kyle Turris and Daniel Carcillo. Newcomer Olli Jokinen will center rookie Mikkel Boedker and second-year player Peter Mueller.
“We really felt that putting Kyle (Turris) and Mikkel (Boedker) together puts an enormous amount of pressure on two (teenagers),” Gretzky said. “It’s hard enough to break into this league as an 18-year-old and although they have both played well, we thought it was a little too much.
“So now instead of having one line, we will have two young lines. I think right now, on a regular basis, maybe it takes a lot of pressure off those two young kids. They can look to their side and see a veteran player who has a little more experience. Hopefully, it will make the transition easier for them.”
Boedker is 18 years old. Turris is 19.
With the change in lines to start the season, Coyotes fans can still expect to see Doan and Jokinen playing together.
“Jokinen and Doan will play a lot together on the power plays,” Gretzky said.
The final line for Gretzky’s squad is unknown, but the coach has been impressed with rookie Kevin Porter and veteran Steven Reinprecht’s versatility.
“The thing about Reinprecht and Porter is that they can play a regular shift and play on the power play,” Gretzky said. “I thought that Porter has had an outstanding camp. He can kill penalties, play center and wing.”
Gretzky said the Coyotes will put defenseman Jonas Ahnelov on the injured-reserve list to start the season. Ahnelov broke a finger when he blocked a shot against the Anaheim Ducks during the exhibition season. He is out indefinitely.
Peter Mueller missed practice on Monday because of a hip flexor. He is day-to-day and should be ready to go for the home opener against Columbus, according to Gretzky.
Joel Perrault had a setback during his rehab from a concussion sustained during workouts at the Alltel Ice Den in Scottsdale before training camp began. The native of Montreal has been told not to do anything for three weeks in his recovery efforts.