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by Russell Brooks / Arizona Coyotes
With the start of the 2008-09 regular season just days away, sat down with Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney to get his thoughts on a variety of topics.

Q: What are your thoughts about your young offense this season?
DM: “We are excited that we have improved our skill base and talent base, but a lot of people that planned to start the season have not played in the NHL before. I think there is going to be some growing pains. I think, like last year, we expect to improve as the year goes on. Certainly adding Olli Jokinen gives us a big step in the offensive direction and he should certainly help. We are excited. I think our offense is going to be better. I’m not concerned at all. I think my bigger concern is our mix on the blue line.”


Don Maloney Q & A 
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Depth Chart Gretzky with Bickley and MJ
Q: How do you feel about your blue line depth going into the season?
DM: “I think we have better depth than we had last year. Last year, we were on a cliff through most of the year to stay healthy. When (Zbynek) Michalek went down, we were hurting big time and it’s similar this year. Any team can say the same thing. When Ed Jovanovski or Derek Morris or Michalek are out for a sustained period, it makes things a lot tougher, but I do think we have better depth. A surprise has been Ahnelov (injured), who’s been as good as he has been. Keith Yandle has improved. He looks like an NHL player to me. In that sense, I think we have improved our depth there. So much of defense is chemistry in mix and pairings.”

Q: Do you think your special teams are going to be improved this season?
DM: “We hope so. I think time will tell how the group evolves. Again, I go back to having Olli Jokinen. Peter Mueller is year older. Daniel Carcillo is a year older, let alone the talent of a Mikkel Boedker or Kyle Turris. I think the pieces are better, but we need to get shots to the net and shots from the point. It’s all chemistry right now, but the pieces are here to have a very good and talented power play.”

Ilya Bryzgalov makes a save against the San Jose Sharks.
Q: What are your expectations for Ilya Bryzgalov is his first season as an NHL starting goaltender?
DM: “We need him to be a top-10 goaltender in the league and top-five in our conference. It’s that simple. If he’s that, we are a tough foe. I think he’s in decent shape. He continues to work at his game and if we can provide protection in front of him, there is no question in my mind he can be at the top of this conference in a year.”

Q: You have several rookies on the roster to start this season. What are your expectations for them?
DM: “It’s one of those things where we know there are going to be growing pains with the inexperience. It’s as much just the pace, tempo, and strength as it is the cities and travel. Whether it’s Kyle Turris or Kevin Porter coming out of a college season or Mikkel Boedker and Viktor Tikhonov being so young, we need them to be productive players. If they are, it’s going to be a great season. If there is a period of time before they become productive, we need Shane Doan, Jokinen, Carcillo and Peter Mueller to keep us stable. That’s the way I look at it. Can we get enough offense from our experienced guys to allow our younger players to learn the league and then become productive players?”

Mikkel Boedker hits a member of the Los Angeles Kings during the rookie series.
Q: What are your thoughts on the depth in the organization this season?
DM: “We certainly think we are better than we were a year ago. It’s something we are improving on. Our scouting staff did a great job in the draft this year when you can plug two guys (Boedker and Tikhonov) in the lineup for this season right out of the draft. It’s a real credit to your staff. It’s something you continue to work at. We still need to get better. Defensemen in our organization is an area of focus now going forward. I’m excited. I think our goaltending is better. Al Montoya had a great camp and pushed hard for a roster spot. It’s encouraging. Josh Tordjman is a good young goalie as well. We are certainly treading where we want to be. Are we ready to challenge Detroit this year? Let’s hope by the end of the year, but realistically we have to work on our team, the depth of the organization, and focus on getting better every month and that continues to be a challenge for us.”

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