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by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes
ANAHEIM – I am writing this blog just a few miles from the Honda Center where the Coyotes will end a weeklong road trip with a matinee game against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday.

At least that’s where I think I am.

The plane the Coyotes use for traveling has been getting lots of work this week.
This trip – to Detroit, Toronto, Columbus and now here – has been short yet very long, if that makes any sense. We’ve traveled approximately 4,200 miles through four time zones in the past six days. Plus, we went through airport customs twice and traveled at least a few hundred miles on busses getting to and from airports and arenas.

Nevertheless, the Coyotes are 2-1-0 on this journey and holding up quite well. They practiced lightly today for about 30 minutes at a cozy neighborhood rink that reminded me of one of those semi-circle military barracks I remember seeing on the TV show Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. Wow, am I getting old or what?

After practice, the players scattered to enjoy an afternoon off. Some went to eat, some went back to their hotel rooms to catch up on sleep and others went to see the new movie Avatar.

Jim Vandermeer
I asked defenseman Jim Vandermeer how he thought the team was handling the hustle and bustle of this trip and being around each other non-stop for so long.

“We’re doing really well,” Vandermeer said. “This is a great room. There aren’t really any cliques. For the most part, everybody can hang out with everybody and everybody gets along with everybody. It’s a real solid group.”

I then asked Vandermeer if he was a fan of playing matinee games.

He smiled and said, “It depends on how I feel when I wake up in the morning.”

I get the feeling all of the players are thrilled that today’s game is a matinee so they can get back to Phoenix early Saturday evening instead of early Sunday morning. I am too, for that reason and just because there’s something special about watching afternoon hockey.

One of the attendants at Nationwide Arena in Columbus delivered Shane Doan the puck he used to score his shootout goal on Thursday as a souvenir for playing in his 1,000th NHL game.

Later, on the team flight to Anaheim, forward Paul Bissonnette made an announcement about the feat and asked all of the passengers to salute Doan with a hearty round of applause, which we did.

Fans will get their chance to officially salute Doan’s milestone at the Coyotes home game on Dec. 26 vs. Los Angeles. It will be a fun night, so make sure you are there!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Click here for more info on the salute to Doan on Dec. 26.

Center Vernon Fiddler was in good spirits today, which surprised me after watching him take a puck in the face in the third period of Thursday’s game at Columbus. Fiddler, who suffered a nasty facial laceration, practiced Friday wearing a full shield on his helmet.

Fiddler is a fun player to watch play because he does all the little things that need to be done for his line, and ultimately his team, to be successful. I don't thnk the team's braintrust has been given enough credit within the hockey world for signing him in the off-season. He has been a key addition.

Thanks for reading.

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