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Darcy Kuemper: More Hockey on Horizon for Coyotes No. 1

'Big Summer' ahead for Coyotes top goaltender

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes

As the off-season commences, General Manager Bill Armstrong and a number of Coyotes players held exit interviews Monday to review the 2020-21 season, discuss summer plans, and look ahead. 

Season Summaries: Bill Armstrong | Conor Garland | Michael Bunting | Jakob Chychrun

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Darcy Kuemper made the most of a challenging year. Despite trudging through injury, Kuemper was able to finish the season as the club's winningest goaltender -- and he hit a couple of milestones along the way.

Kuemper racked up a team-high 10 wins despite missing nearly half the season. He notched his 100th career NHL win February 8, against the Blues in St. Louis, making a season-high 40 saves in a 4-3 victory.

A couple weeks prior to hitting triple digits in the win column, Kuemper made his 100th start as a Coyote. He ranks No. 2 among franchise goalies with a .920 save percentage. 

Kuemper earned a pair of shutouts to increase his career mark to 20. Ten of Kuemper's 20 shutouts are with the Coyotes, sixth-most in franchise history. He was perfect in a 24-save showing against the Blues on February 15, and in a 26-save outing against the Kings on April 24. 

Video: STL@ARI: Kuemper stops 24 for 19th career shutout

While his season may not have been picture perfect, there is more hockey on the horizon for Coyotes No. 1 netminder. 

Kuemper will play for Team Canada at the 2021 IIHF World Championship in Riga, Latvia, May 21 - June 6. It will be Kuemper's second World Championship - he played with Canada at the 2018 tournament in Denmark. 

Through all of the season's challenges, Kuemper most valued the team's togetherness. 

"It was a tough year for everyone," he said. "I mean, the whole world, really. As far as hockey goes, things were very unique with protocols and everything. Things weren't always easy, and a lot of things had to be changed from what people were used to, but how we stuck together and kept a tight group was really special."

The following Q&A is from Kuemper's exit-day media interviews: 

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How would you assess the season from a team perspective?

I thought we worked hard. We don't have to look back and have any regrets about that. Obviously, we aren't in the playoffs, so I don't think anyone is happy. We didn't hit our goal. I think we have to all look and see what we can do better for next season.

How did you feel about your season?

The same as how I describe it about the team. I know I went out there and competed every night. I wish I could've done more to help the team win, to help us get into the playoffs. I'm going to have a big summer and work hard so I can come back better. I want to help us take that step to get into the playoffs.

How frustrating have injuries been in your career? 

It's never fun to go through (injuries) and it's always a battle going through the rehab process. It's not fun watching games, but it's part of the sport. Obviously, you don't want it to happen and it sucks when it does. But all you can do is put in the work and come back stronger.

How do you think the goaltending group performed this year? 

The schedule was such a grind. Most teams had to use multiple goalies, and (Adin) Hill did a great job of coming in and playing well. I was super happy for him. I think it was important for us that we had everyone ready to go. 

What are your thoughts on playing in the World Championship?

Anytime you have the opportunity to put on the Canadian jersey and play for Team Canada, it's special. I'm looking forward to being able to keep playing hockey. This is an opportunity to go out there and keep playing and, in a sense, keep the season going in a different way than what I was hoping for.

Photo Credits: Kelsey Grant - Arizona Coyotes

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