Information, observations and anecdotes about the Coyotes
as told by Dave Vest, the team's V.P. of News Content
Love it or hate it, New York City is certainly a unique place to visit. And play a hockey game.
The Coyotes will do the latter tonight when they take on the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
I just returned with the team from the morning skate and figured it would be a good time to share some thoughts on this experience. Besides, it’s chilly outside while it's nice and warm in my hotel room in the middle of Times Square.
First of all, here’s some of the news of the day:
• Defenseman Derek Morris
will not play again tonight and may not play again until after Thanksgiving.
“He’s got a few issues he’s battling,” Head Coach Wayne Gretzky said this morning. “He’s got a sore foot (and) he’s battling a sore arm and shoulder, so he’s got a few issues we’re trying to clean up. If we’re lucky (he’ll play) Wednesday, but maybe Friday.”
Reporter Todd Walsh then asked Gretzky to discuss the impact of Morris’ injury.
“He brings a lot of experience and composure to our team and when you lose a guy like that … he’s a tough guy to replace,” Gretzky said.
• I’m told forward Daniel Winnik’s injury is getting better, but he, like Morris, is out again tonight.
• And despite faking a leg injury as he walked past the media this morning, Ilya Bryzgalov is fine and will be back in goal after a one-game break.
After updating the lineup and injuries, Gretzky then began to answer questions about being back in Madison Square Garden, the arena in which he ended his playing career on April 18, 1999.
I asked him to share his feelings about coming back into the arena where he notched 134 points over three seasons.
“I always love it,” Gretzky said. “It was three of the greatest years I’ve had in my life, and I have a lot of great friends and a lot of great memories and I played with a lot of great players here. It’s always nice to come back to the Garden.”
I then asked Gretzky about the four rookies on his roster, and if he’s attempted to keep them focused by reminding them that MSG is just another NHL arena.
“It’s not just another arena,” Gretzky said with a smile. “The atmosphere here is pretty special and the high that you can get and the excitement you can get from walking in this building can be extremely positive. So I’ve just tried to encourage them to take it in and enjoy it, and ride the wave.”
The best part of MSG is that is tucked neatly in the middle of the busy city.
The aura inside the arena is pretty special, too. In fact, a group of us reporters and broadcasters spent a few minutes trying to come up with a list of most memorable sports moments in Garden history. The consensus was that Willis Reed limping to the court before Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals, and Mark Messier holding the Stanley Cup over his head in 1994 were 1A and 1B. I also noted that I saw the best concert of my life at the Garden – The Who in 2000 – but that’s a whole other discussion.
Keep an eye on Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek tonight. It’s not hard to do; he’s almost always on the ice. In fact, Michalek has logged new season-highs in ice time for four consecutive games. On Saturday in Philadelphia, he played a season-high 29:01.
The guy is a machine. A very underrated machine.
Thanks for reading.