“The summer has been really good, a big step forward for me,” said Upshall, who, before Saturday, last skated in the Coyotes' home rink on Jan. 28 when he suffered a knee injury in a game vs. Calgary that required season-ending surgery. “An injury like this, it's realty hard to know what to expect (coming back). I’m happy with the way things have progressed.”
Upshall is skating with Team ‘A’ for the first three days of training camp on a line with center Wojtek Wolski and winger Brett MacLean
. He’s happy to be back among his teammates, and it shows.
Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett is looking forward to watching Upshall progress during camp.
“He's going to take some time to get going, but I'm sure he's a little bit cautious; it's his first real contact since he's been out,” Tippett said after Upshall’s first workout. “But he's the kind of guy, he'll work very hard at it, and I think he'll get up to speed very quickly.”
Upshall missed the team’s stretch run to the playoffs last season and its first-round series vs. Detroit. While he wasn’t on the roster, he was always nearby, encouraging his teammates from inside the dressing room or on the radio broadcasts when he served as guest color analyst.
|Scottie Upshall returned to the ice this weekend. Photo by Norm Hall. |
While he enjoyed broadcasting the games, Upshall is much happier being part of the action, and he’s looking forward to helping the Coyotes get back to the playoffs for a second straight year.
“(Tippett) is describing it as an ‘Up the Ante’ type of mentality coming into training camp and expecting more from us than what we did last year,” Upshall said. “As a group, it's a great situation to be in. We can only get better.”
Though he played just 49 games, only four other Coyotes scored more goals than Upshall's 18 in 2009-10. Upshall is hoping to top that mark this season, but he knows it won't be easy. The first step is getting through training camp.
"It’s going to be a grind but I’m looking forward to it," Upshall said. "I’ve got a great support group with our training staff and my teammates. With training camp, we’ll just kind of take it day by day and see how it feels.”
Reach Dave Vest at firstname.lastname@example.org
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