I could definitely feel a buzz inside Jobing.com Arena this morning as 56 players showed up for the first day of training camp. The players spent the day taking physical exams, doing fitness tests, filling out forms and recording interviews for the arena's Jumbotron and various media outlets.
Despite the hectic nature of the day, several players and Associate Coach Ulf Samuelsson took some time to share their feelings about starting camp with the ownership situation still unclear.
Here are some of their quotes:Shane Doan:
“It’s incredibly unfair for my wife and kids. They want to know answers and really nothing has changed since May 5th. Out of everything (going on), that’s the most frustrating. … That part is disappointing. As a player, I can prepare to go and do my thing, but my wife is planning different things and trying to do things for the kids and trying to figure out what’s going on and we never know what’s going to happen… Absolutely nobody has any answers and that’s the thing that’s hardest for everybody.”
“I am really looking forward to playing the first game because up until now all we’ve heard about is how awful Phoenix is and how bad it is here. I’ve been here for 14 years and I haven’t found it awful. I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been great.”
“We obviously haven’t been told we’re leaving yet. We’re banking on the fact that we’re going to be here.”
“People ask me if I still want to be here. I’ve been here for 14 years. My daughter is 10 and this is her home. So, it would be tough on my family (to leave) but at the same time I want to be here. I want to win here. I want to prove we can do it.”
“I hope that we win the first five or six games in a row and kind of get everyone behind us. Maybe people can turn us into a Cinderella story.” Ed Jovanovski:
|Ed Jovanovski |
“The bottom line for this organization is you’ve got to win games. That’s the only way this team will have a chance (in Phoenix). We all like it in the Valley. It’s beautiful. It’s a great place to play but you’ve got to have success, and for us players I think that’s all we have to focus our attention on right now. Hopefully, everything else will play out and work out for every party that is involved.”
“I have four kids and you hope everything works out, but you can’t help but think ‘Ok, what if this happens?’ Having said that, I think things are going to work out and there will be a team here in the Valley.”
“It’s been a long off-season and we’re all itching to get back on the ice. I think everybody’s looking to build on a lot of the positives that happened to our team last year and work on things that really hurt us after the All-Star break. We’ve added some veteran players that hopefully are going to better our team.”
“It’s tough. You read where this team is projected to be (in the standings) this year and I wouldn’t even put us in the sleeper category. I think we’re going to be a good team and a team that’s going to work hard and be committed to defense. … It’s frustrating listening to all that garbage, but they have the right to say and write what they want. It really doesn’t affect us players other than going out there and playing really hard.”
“Obviously, it weighs on our minds but I think with a guy like myself who has been around for a while, you try to look at the lighter side and make a little fun of the situation and do what you can do. It’s a different situation that I don’t think anyone has ever been in before in this dressing room, so we’ve just got to wait and see what happens.”Ulf Samuelsson:
“This thing has certainly dragged out and it’s been annoying for us here with the Coyotes, but we’re preparing and we’re ready (for camp).”
“Don Maloney and his staff has done a great job creating some competition here for roster spots so I think the boys are hungry, they’re eager and they’re ready to go out there and show what they can do.”
General Manager Don Maloney also spoke about the ownership situation and the status of Head Coach Wayne Gretzky, who was not at camp on Saturday.
|Wayne Gretzky |
“He is the head coach of this team right now," Maloney said. "Given the timing of the court date, the lack of decisions on an ownership position and his contractual rights, Wayne just thought it was better to sit back for a few days and just evaluate the situation and talk to people."
Maloney added, "We feel good. We're not suiting up for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals next week. We think we have a good plan in place for the next seven to 10 days and by that time we feel we'll have a lot more clarity in the situation… He’s a good man. He's worked hard for this club. We’ll have to see how the days unfold going forward.”
Samuelsson will be the acting head coach in Gretzky’s absence.
I briefly chatted with defenseman Jonas Ahnelov
and he told me his shoulder injury isn’t too serious and that he plans to start skating again in a few days. Ahnelov suffered the injury during a fight in a rookie game against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.
The players have been split into three teams for training camp.TEAM AForwards
Justin BernhardtMikkel Boedker
Kevin PorterTaylor Pyatt
Matt WatkinsDefensemenJonas AhnelovAdrian Aucoin
Ed JovanovskiNick RossMichael Stone
Ilya BryzgalovTEAM BForwards
Mitch FritzMartin Hanzal
Ryan HollwegLauri KorpikoskiColin Long
Andrew OrpikViktor TikhonovRadim Vrbata
Daniel WinnikJordan SzwarzDefensemenMathieu Brodeur
Joel GistedtTEAM CForwardsShane Doan
Matthew LombardiBrett MacLean
Jeff MayDavid Schlemko
Jim VandermeerJustin WellerKeith Yandle
Tim BillingsleyGoaliesJason LaBarbera
Here is the camp schedule for the next few days:Sunday, Sept. 13
9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. – Practice - TEAM A
10:15 a.m. – 11:05 a.m. – Scrimmage – TEAM A vs. TEAM B
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Practice – TEAM B
12:45 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Practice – TEAM CMonday, Sept. 14
9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. – Practice - TEAM C
10:15 a.m. – 11:05 a.m. – Scrimmage – TEAM A vs. TEAM C
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Practice – TEAM A
12:45 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Practice – TEAM B
Thanks for reading.