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'Yotes Notes: Tocchet Pushes Pace on First Day of Practices

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content
GLENDALE - The Coyotes, split into three groups, took the ice for the first time on Friday at Gila River Arena, and Head Coach Rick Tocchet set the tone for training camp, and the season, with fast-paced workouts.
"There's some work to do," Tocchet said. "We've got to be pushing the pace a little bit more, but it's fine, first day. We'll see how it progresses."
Training camp shifts to Ice Den in Scottsdale on Saturday and Tocchet will be looking for more players to keep up. Preparation and recovery will be huge keys, he said.
"You've got to be in shape to play a fast style and you can't rest," Tocchet said. "That's why 30-, 40-second shifts are very important. I don't want guys resting and slowing the game down. There are some guys out there who came in (to camp) in really good shape, and there's some guys who were just OK and they're going to have to learn to push the pace to play … It's definitely a mind-set. Sometimes you're tired, but you can't be tired. I'm sorry, but you just can't be tired. You have to push it. We'll get better at it."
Tocchet said the young players at camp would be wise to watch how defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson practices. He also told reporters that Sidney Crosby was the hardest working player on the Penguins, his former team.
"When you see him work hard, everybody else has to work hard," Tocchet said. "That's why it's important that our veteran players and the guys that have been here have to be our hardest working players ... That's why grabbing a guy like Niklas Hjalmarsson was so big for us. He can set the pace. We can't wait. We want pace-setters."
The Coyotes worked on breakouts and defensive-zone coverage on Friday. This weekend, the focus will be offensive-zone coverage and special teams. Arizona will play its first of eight preseason games on Monday vs. the Los Angeles Kings at Gila River Arena.
Tocchet is eager to reduce the training camp roster to the opening night roster quickly.
"If you ask every head coach they want it tomorrow," Tocchet said. "I want my team tomorrow. I want to do my systems now. I want to do everything now, but in all fairness, you've got to let it play out. There's jobs open. It's not fair to a player that has a chance to show something and he has a bad game and all of the sudden you're out of here."
• Defenseman Jakob Chychrun is at training camp but is not skating because of a knee injury he suffered while training over the summer.
While Chychrun is out indefinitely his injury is not considered a season-ending injury.
"Until he starts skating it's kind of difficult to give an update," General Manager John Chayka said.
• Center Derek Stepan is excited to be playing on a new team and is quickly becoming popular with his new teammates thanks to his outgoing personality. Some of them already are calling him "Toc" because he's like a coach on the ice.
Stepan said one off-the-ice project he wants to take on is helping defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson become more rambunctious.
"He's quiet, but I'm going to push to open him up," Stepan said "…The guy's a superstar. When he's on the ice, he has the ability to take over. There's a handful of guys that are able to do it in the League and he's one of them. I'm really excited to have the opportunity to get to play with him. He is a rock star of a guy too ... That's rare to be a superstar like that and be a superstar guy, too."
• Center Brad Richardson, who suffred multiple broken bones in his right leg early last season and missed 66 games, skated with teammates at Friday's practice.
"I felt pretty good," said Richardson, who is fighting a cold. "I worked hard this summer to get back in shape and it's just exciting to get back on the ice. I had a smile on my face the whole time. It was a lot of fun."
• Forwards Brendan Perlini, Clayton Keller and Tyler Gaudet are wearing new sweater numbers this season. Perlini has switched from No. 29 to No. 11, Keller has switched from No. 14 to No. 9, and Gaudet has switched from No. 32 to No. 45.
• Arizona's three home preseason games will be aired on radio. Play-by-Play Announcer Bob Heethuis and first-year Color Analyst Paul Bissonnette will call the games on the following dates:
Sept. 18: ARI vs LAK - Arizona Sports 98.7 FM 7 p.m.
Sept. 23: ARI vs SJS - KTAR News 92.3 FM 6 p.m.
Sept. 25; ARI vs ANA (Tucson) - KTAR News 92.3 FM 7 p.m.
• Forward Max Domi turned heads when he showed up to training camp with a new haircut.
"I decided to clean it up," Domi said. "I was going to grow my hair out, but it doesn't look too good. I have the worst hair in the NHL probably when it comes to the feel of it. It's just really thick, really curly. You can't really go with the long hair … it doesn't fit in the helmet too well, especially when you already have a big head."
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