As training camp draws near, a number of Coyotes players have begun to assemble for informal skates at Gila River Arena, many taking the ice together for the first time since April. With the offseason coming to a close, we touch base with a few names to catch up on the preceding months and the season ahead.
They're Back: Summer Q&A Series
Christian Fischer is entering his fourth season with Arizona. The 22-year-old power forward scored 11 goals and registered seven assists in 71 games played during the 2018-19 season. He netted his first-career hat trick in a 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 23, 2018.
You're back in Arizona for the upcoming season, how was your summer?
I did kind of a split between Chicago and Arizona, that's what I've done the last three or four summers, just finding a balance where I spend a month here and a month there, so on and so forth, it worked out well, I've felt good every summer I've done that.
What was the highlight of your time spent away from the rink?
Just spending time with my family, I've got a brother and sister back in Chicago, and then obviously my Mom and Dad, so it was really nice to be in the same city as them, do family dinners, go golfing, that sort of stuff, stuff we don't get to do for eight or nine months out of the year. It's just nice to get back and relax, see friends and family.
Did you keep in touch or train with any of your teammates during the offseason?
Christian Dvorak and Clayton Keller kind of do what I do, that travel schedule where we go back and forth here and there, so those two. Nick Schmaltz was out here a lot, Jakob Chychrun, more of the younger guys, the guys that don't have a family and kids to tend to, we have a little bit more freedom.
As far as the upcoming season, what excites you the most?
I think just our overall team. If you look at our team on paper and all of the transactions that John [Chayka] made this summer, and all of the guys that are back to full health right now, it's exciting to know that we've been put in the best position to succeed. Everyone in the room wants to get started; if we could get rid of preseason and go right to October, I think everyone would do it tomorrow. It's exciting; I think we have a really deep team, a good mix of young guys and veterans, two stud goalies that have performed well for us in the past, so everything's there for us, now we've got to win.
Fighting for a playoff spot up until the second-to-last game in 2018-19, what did you learn from that experience, how is the team looking to build on that?
I think that was great for pretty much everyone; those last 30-40 games were kind of like that cliché 'playoff push' that everyone talks about. Every single game we were full-court press because we needed those two points, it was really fun. You want to play in those types of games, you never want to play in meaningless hockey games, the goal for every year is to make the playoffs and go from there, to give yourself a chance to win a Stanley Cup. That's the way it should be, we should have a team now for years ahead that every single season has that standard.
How do you feel the roster has been improved and rejuvenated with the acquisitions of forwards Phil Kessel and Carl Soderberg?
It's a lot of depth. You look at what could be four lines of forwards, the six defensemen and the two goalies, there really isn't a weakness or a fallout. Phil's been a proven scorer, one of the highest scorers in the NHL for the last 10-plus years, and that's exciting, he's a superstar. Soderberg, he had that run last year with the Avalanche and he had a really good year, he had over 25 goals I think, and he brings more experience and depth, it's exciting.
What is driving your motivation for the coming season?
I haven't been here for, you know, 10 years, but it's to a point where everyone is over 'not making the playoffs', we got a little taste of that - we were almost there last year. It's nothing I've ever felt before, to play in those 'make or break' games, so that was really fun. It comes down to winning now, that's motivation in itself. We've got to win, we're going to win, we're going to expect to win, and hopefully we stick with that mindset.
Your goals for the 2019-20 campaign, personal and for the team, what are they?
Obviously, the easy answer for everyone is to just give yourself a chance to get into the playoffs. You don't want to look too far down the road, but once you get into the playoffs it's a whole new season, anyone can upset anyone in a seven-game series. It all starts with game one in Anaheim, getting those two points. Every single guy knows what they need to bring and the ultimate goal is to make those all mesh well together, put together a lot of wins, get into the playoffs and go from there.