On Thursday, I will travel from Phoenix to Saint Paul, Minn., to cover the 2011 NHL Entry Draft for phoenixcoyotes.com. I invite everyone reading this to visit the web site several times daily this weekend because - trust me - there will be lots going on and updates will come quickly, especially on Saturday when Rounds 2-7 of the draft take place.
|Dave Vest |
Here are a few tidbits to report before I fly north, including a nugget about the Coyotes' 2011-12 regular-season schedule:
• The Coyotes will release their 2011-12 regular-season schedule on Thursday. FYI, the home opener will be on Saturday, Oct. 15 against… drumroll please…. Winnipeg. Check back to phoenixcoyotes.com on Thursday for more details.
• Coyotes captain Shane Doan
didn't win the Mark Messier Leadership Award at the NHL Awards on Wednesday. With all due respect to Boston's Zdeno Chara, who did win it, Doan gets my vote hands down.
Not only did Doan lead the Coyotes in goals (20) and points (60) - despite missing 10 games - again he led the team off the ice through another highly intense and emotional season that featured rumors of relocation.
In the playoffs vs. Detroit, Doan truly showed his leadership skills by setting the bar for his teammates with spirited and eye-popping physical performances in all four games.
• Three young players with ties to the Valley are hoping to hear their names called at some point before the draft ends on Saturday afternoon.
Scottsdale native Zac Larraza
, Gilbert native Colten St. Clair
and former Valley resident Trevor Cheek
all are ranked among Central Scouting's top 200 players in the service's final ranking of North American skaters. Larraza is ranked 70th, St. Clair is ranked 77th, and Cheek is ranked 176th.
• The Coyotes are scheduled to play one of their eight 2011 exhibition games against the Dallas Stars at Reliant Stadium in Houston on Friday, Sept. 23. Yes, that’s a football stadium. But keep in mind it’s a football stadium with a retractable roof, so it promises to be an extraordinary experience for the players and coaches, not to mention the fans.
The game will also be a homecoming of sorts for Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett, who began his coaching career with the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League. Tippett led the Aeros to the 1999 Turner Cup championship before moving on to his NHL coaching career.
Reach Dave Vest at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @davest4yotes.