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'Yotes Notes: Gagner Embraces Pressure of Providing Offense

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes


GLENDALE – A long off-season officially ended on Friday when Coyotes players took the ice for the first on-ice practices of the 2014-15 Training Camp.

There were lots of familiar faces – Shane Doan, Keith Yandle and Mike Smith to name just a few – but there also were multiple new ones.

Among that group was forward Sam Gagner, who practiced with Team C during the third of three 90-minute workouts on the Gila River Arena ice. Teams A & B also skated for 90 minutes, separately, and all three teams of 20 players will do so again on Saturday.

Dave Tippett and Sam Gagner. Photo by Norm Hall.

Gagner is the team’s most significant off-season acquisition. He joins the Coyotes after seven seasons with the Edmonton Oilers during which he notched 101 goals and 104 assists in 481 games. The Coyotes will be looking to him to carry a significant load offensively, and that’s just fine with him.

"I put more pressure on myself than anyone ever could so I’m just excited for the challenge," Gagner said Friday. "I feel like I can take a step forward in my career here. I’m excited for the opportunity and looking forward to getting started."

Gagner can play wing or center. Head Coach Dave Tippett has said he will start Gagner as a center at training camp and observe how it goes.

That’s fine with Gagner, too, as he’s not quite ready to focus on building relationships with specific linemates just yet.

"Once the regular season starts, you kind of have your linemates set and you can talk about building chemistry and what you need to do to be successful as a line," Gagner said. "But I think for training camp, it's about getting sharp, getting yourself ready for the season and everyone has that mindset."

Gagner is wearing No. 9 for the Coyotes. The number is honored by the team as a tribute to Winnipeg Jets star Bobby Hull but it is not retired. Gagner wore No. 89 for the Oilers but that’s Mikkel Boedker’s number in Arizona and Gagner is OK switching back to No. 9 – which he wore way back before his days of junior hockey.

Sam Gagner. Photo by Norm Hall.

Gagner is looking forward to playing for Tippett, whom his father, Dave, played with on the 1984 Canadian Olympic team. He’s also looking forward to learning Tippett’s structured system of play.

On Friday, however, he was mostly concerned with simply shaking off the summer cobwebs.

"A lot of it today was just getting the summer hockey out of our system and really pushing the pace and getting guys working," Gagner said. "It was a good day."

NOTES:

• Forward Brendan Perlini, the team’s first-round draft pick last June, did not skate Friday

because of a hand injury he suffered in a recent Rookie Camp game vs. Los Angeles.

• Forward Pavel LaPlante skated only briefly on Friday. He’s nursing a minor injury suffered in a fight in a recent Rookie Camp game vs. Los Angeles.

• Fans are invited to attend ALL training camp practices at Gila River Arena free of charge.

• The following players from Rookie Camp were released or returned to their respective junior clubs.

G - Brown, Adam - released
D - Hanley, Joel - report to Portland
D - Mayo, Dysin - returned to Edmonton
D - Southorn, Joel - report to Portland
D - Leboeuf, Guy - released
D - Sautner, Ashton - released – sent to Edmonton
D - Mermis, Dakota - released – sent to London
F - Playfair, Jackson - released – sent to Tri-Cities
F - Cave, Colby - released – sent to Swift Current
F - Manigiapane, Andrew - released - sent to Barrie

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