GLENDALE -- After a 10-day hiatus for the men’s Olympic hockey tournament, the Coyotes returned to the Jobing.com Arena ice on Wednesday; this time with a fresh face who hopes to make a case to stick around even after their five Olympians return.
Defenseman Brandon Gormley joined the Coyotes on the ice for workouts, in what he hopes to be the first of many more workouts with the big club.
"It’s a great opportunity for myself," said Gormley, a native of Charlottetown, PEI. "I was very excited to get the news and these are the opportunities that you wait for and you work for. So, you just have to take advantage of the opportunity and it’s going to be a good week of practice for me."
While this is just Gormley’s second professional season, his name is well established within the Coyotes’ system. Drafted in the first round (13th overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Gormley posted 23 goals and 57 assists for 80 points in 82 regular-season games over his last two junior seasons. He also represented Canada in the 2012 World Junior Championships, notching three goals and three assists in six games, helping Canada earn a bronze medal and earning Best Defenseman of the Tournament honors in the process.
While Gormley has gotten long looks in training camp and Coyotes exhibition games, he has established a home for himself on the blueline for the team’s American Hockey League affiliate in Portland, where he has tallied 11 goals and 50 assists for 61 points in 116 regular season games since the beginning of last season. His 32 points this season rank seventh in the AHL among defensemen.
Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett talked about Gormley's call-up after Wednesday’s practice and how he and the coaching staff feel Gormley’s game is almost at a stage where it needs to be tested at the next level.
"He’s played a lot and he’s played in all situations, almost to the point where he’s playing too much down there, which sometimes can be a bad thing, but in his development will wind up being a good thing in the long run,” Tippett said. "He’s been playing so much, especially when we’ve had call-ups like (Connor) Murphy and guys up here that he’s not playing at 100 percent; he’s resting in the game."
Tippett added, "…If he plays less minutes, he can be a more efficient player, which is what he’s going to have to be in the NHL."
Gormley said that while the heavy minutes were a challenge, he welcomed them because he feels that they have only better prepared him for this moment.
"It’s definitely a grind mentally," said Gormley, who is serving as an alternate captain this season in Portland. "You’re getting lots of games in and lots of minutes in the American League. And for me at my age, I think that’s important, too, you can’t overlook that."
But right now Gormley isn’t too focused on why he’s here or if he’ll get to make the trip to Winnipeg with the big club next week to start the final stretch of the season, but rather just simply making the most of his first in-season look.
"Anytime you get a chance to showcase your game you have to take advantage of it," said Gormley. "You only get so many opportunities in this profession and this is a big one for myself."