Asked what it will take for him to be with the Coyotes in Los Angeles on Oct. 3 when they open the regular season, Spina, who grew up in nearby Mesa, said: “I’m going to have to be one of the fastest guys on the ice and draw penalties and bring a lot of energy to the team. That’s my game and that’s what’s gotten me here so far, so that’s what I’m going to do and provide for this organization.”
Spina’s quest to become the first Arizona youth hockey product to play for the Coyotes has attracted media attention during the first week of training camp.
|David Spina |
“I used to watch guys like Shane Doan
and Jeremy Roenick and Keith Tkachuk when they first got here to Phoenix and thought that hockey was something that I could do,” Spina said.
Thus, Spina dived into a youth hockey program here in the Valley and developed skills that eventually led him to a four-year career at Boston College. He signed with Phoenix as a free agent in 2007 and posted 104 points while playing for its top affillaite in the American Hockey League (San Antonio) the past two seasons.
Spina credits a random conversation he had as a teenager with former Coyotes star Mike Gartner – the father of one of Spina’s youth hockey teammates – for helping him get where he is today.
“He went out of his way one day and told me and my dad that he thought from what he’d seen of me playing that if I was serious about playing this game that I had the abiltity to do it at a high level,” Spina said. “That was probably the most influential sentence I’ve ever heard in my life.”
Before joining the Coyotes, Spina played minor league hockey in Springfield, Mass., a city that once was home to a Phoenix affiliate. Fans there told him he resembled former Coyotes forward Daniel Briere in facial appearance, size and performance.
“That’s a great compliment,” Spina said of the latter. “Hopefully, I can live up to that standard. I never had a chance to watch him play in person, but he’s the one guy that my parents would say to me ‘this is a guy you could be like.’ He’s not big and he doesn’t do anything bedazzling, but he is very effective on the ice.”
|David Spina vs. Los Angeles on Sept. 15, 2009 (Photo by Norm Hall). |
With each preseason game that Spina plays, a buzz continues to build about “the kid from Mesa” actually making the team. But it’s important to Spina that fans and observers realize that his involvement with the team is not a gimmick and that the Coyotes aren’t just giving rosters spots to players from the Valley to make a nice story.
“I think I’ve proven that I can play," Spina said. “…My AHL numbers speak for themselves.”
Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney said Spina has earned his time on the ice this preseason.
“This camp isn’t a popularity contest,” Maloney said. “He’s played well. I’ve been impressed with his compete level and his strength on the puck from two years ago. He’s getting the puck and doing something with it. “