GLENDALE – Coyotes center Martin Hanzal says his surgically repaired back has recovered 100 percent, and his primary goal for the upcoming season is to be on the ice for every game the team plays.
“I feel great, better than ever,” Hanzal said after Day 2 of Training Camp on Saturday. “For sure I feel really good and really strong, and I’m glad to be on the ice with the boys and trying to enjoy the camp.”
Hanzal played only 37 of 82 games last season because of a chronic back injury. With the team out of playoff contention in February, the Coyotes and Hanzal decided surgery was the best option at that point so that he could be ready to go in 2015-16.
|Martin Hanzal. Photo by Norm Hall. |
Hanzal said he worked hard over the summer to strengthen his back. In July, Coyotes Strength and Conditioning Coordinator J.P. Major paid him a visit in the Czech Republic to check on his progress. That show of support from the team meant a lot to Hanzal.
“I want to prove to the team that I’m worth it,” Hanzal said.
Head Coach Dave Tippett, who is no stranger to hockey-related back injuries, said Hanzal appears to be physically sound.
“He’s healthy and he’s very fit,” Tippett said. “He’s come in (to camp) in great shape and obviously very determined and frustrated with the way his season went and the amount of games he played. He has his body in very good condition to make sure it doesn’t happen to him again.”
Despite the injury, Hanzal is vowing to keep playing an aggressive, hard-hitting style of hockey.
“I’m not going to change a thing,” Hanzal said. ”I’ll be a physical guy and trying to play hard every game, especially against the tough guys. That’s part of my job. If I ever get hurt again, that’s part of my job. But I’m not going to change a single thing. I’ll play even harder this year.”
►Backup goaltender Anders Lindback is eager to develop a rapport with starter Mike Smith.
The two goalies got to know each other a little bit before camp at the team’s informal skates in Scottsdale.
|Anders Lindback. Photo by Norm Hall. |
“I’m looking forward to working with him,” Lindback said. “Mike seems like a great guy. What we can do is just push each other to try to get each other better. That’s how I look at it.”
Like all backup goalies, Lindback wants to play as much as possible. He knows, however, that starts likely will be few and far between behind Smith.
“It’s an important job, too,” Lindback said of being the backup. “In the end, one point here or there can be the difference of (making the) playoffs or not.”
Lindback is hoping to build on the success he experienced with Buffalo at the end of last season when he played regularly. He said he spent this summer mentally preparing for this next chapter of his career; he wants to be calmer on the ice, use his size more and master his positioning.
“I think we’re going to be a hard working team,” he said regarding playing for Arizona, his fifth NHL team. “That’s something that’s going to be fun to be part of.”
►The Coyotes added forward Patrick Dwyer to the Training Camp roster on a professional tryout (PTO). Dwyer, who will wear sweater No. 33, has played 416 NHL games, all for Carolina.
► Captain Shane Doan left Saturday’s skate early because of a lower-body injury. He is considered day-to-day.
►Tippett offered some high praise for forward Matthias Plachta, one of many talented prospects attending Training Camp.
“I would venture to guess that he has the hardest wrist shot of anybody in camp,” Tippett said. “He snaps it. Watching him in practices, it’s nice to see. But he’s the perfect example of a guy who we’ve got to see how it translates into the games.”