NEWARK, N.J. -- Arizona Coyotes coach Dave Tippett is trying to keep his patience, trying to maintain his balance, which is why he tries to laugh when he's asked if he still has both with his team mired in a four-game losing streak.
"It's good," Tippett said smiling after putting the Coyotes through practice at Prudential Center on Monday.
It's also tough, especially because the Coyotes don't have a point since a season-opening 4-3 overtime win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 15. Arizona has been outscored 18-10 in four games since and lost No. 1 goalie Mike Smith to a lower-body injury (week to week).
The Coyotes are also heading into the fifth game of a season-high six-game road trip. They play at the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; MSG, FS-A, NHL.TV).
Tippett, though, knew what he was getting into long before he blew his first whistle in training camp last month. The start of the season may frustrate him and test his patience, but it doesn't surprise him at all.
The Coyotes have five rookies and seven players in total who are 21 or younger. Beyond that, they have already used six veteran players who were not on the team last season.
"You can't change as many players out as we did and expect that everything was just going to flow like no changes had been made," Tippett said. "We knew there was going to be some challenges in getting our group together. The young players are one thing, but it's [Alex] Goligoski, it's [Luke] Schenn, it's [Jamie] McGinn, who hasn't even played yet. We've got a lot of new players on this team and making sure everyone's games on the same page, we knew it was going to take some time."
As much as Tippett wants to fast track it, he also knows that patience is key, especially with the amount of young players he is coaching this season, including second-year forwards Max Domi (21) and Anthony Duclair (21) as well as rookies Laurent Dauphin (21), Christian Dvorak (20), Lawson Crouse (19), Dylan Strome (19) and Jakob Chychrun (18).
Tippett talked about the Coyotes youth, learning how to win and more in a wide-ranging Q&A.
Here are Five Questions with…Dave Tippett:
Has it forced you, with the amount of young players on the team, because it's not often you see a team that has even guys 21 or younger, to change your philosophy and your approach to how you should coach this team? How do you deal with them?
"No, but it's different. The game continues to evolve where players want so much information now. I coached teams in Dallas that were good veteran teams and you still taught, but not to the level you're teaching now. That's in all the game, even the veteran players want more information now. So there's a lot of teaching going on, a lot of reinforcement, a lot of 1-on-1 conversations to make sure everyone knows where they are. There's a lot of that stuff and it's not just our team, it's the way the game is evolving."
Is it teaching things to the young guys that they've already been taught and now it's just reinforcement, or is it teaching new things to them that apply only at the NHL level?
"I would say it's new experiences to make sure they're not in awe of what's going on up here. A lot of times it's the same stuff, stuff they've heard before, but they've got to integrate it into the men's league now. There are things that junior players can get away with, especially high end junior players, that doesn't bode well for the NHL. A good example of that is young Dvorak from London. That line he was on [for the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League], they played all the time and they played long shifts. He needs to play short, hard shifts. In London he was such a good player and that line was such a good line that they would pace themselves but they played a lot of the game. That's just an example of a young player coming in who has to learn the League. I guarantee you he's had other coaches talk to him about shortening up his shifts before, but hey you gotta do it here.
"But it doesn't matter if it's young guys. Every year coaches are trying to evolve and try to look at things in a better way. That's part of coaching. Every summer you go through that and figure out what's best for your team. But experienced players, they've seen and heard a lot of this stuff before so they pick it up very quick. Young players, first of all they're kind of in awe that they're in the NHL, so you've got to get by that part of it. Then it's, 'OK, you're in the NHL now, you've got to do the job.' There is a responsibility to doing the job, not just being in the NHL."
You made a comment Sunday night after losing 3-2 to the New York Rangers that there are a lot of good parts, but not enough good parts because we've got to learn how to win. How hard is learning how to win with this amount of young players on the team?
"Well it is, but not just because of young players, it's because we've got a lot of new players who have to dig in. For me it's about overcoming things, like overcoming a mistake by a guy. Like, OK, we made a mistake, but how can we still win? We have an injury or two, but how can we still win? We've got young players, but how do we integrate them and still win? Those are the frustrating things. You're always looking for the things that give you results. You spend a lot of time thinking about what's the best course to run here and every game is different. You look at every game as a must win almost, but you try to figure out things that are going to give you the best chance to win that game."
Are you harder as a coach on Domi and Duclair than you were last season because you've seen them perform and succeed in the NHL and you know they can do it?
"I think we're trying to do that with our whole team. There is an accountability. Last year was really just we're going to throw kids in and let them play. I think there is more accountability this year. Max and Duke, they jumped in and took off, but now there is an expectation. It's not just an expectation from our team, but every team we play you can see the expectation, like they know who they are. There is a whole different element that goes with that."
Were you at all hesitant to have this many rookies?
"No. We know we have to build from within with budgets and stuff. That was the direction we talked about this summer. We knew we were going to have some kids. I don't think we knew we were going to have this many, but some of it is because the kids have played really well. Chychrun, when we drafted him at 18, I don't think anyone was expecting him to play on our team, but here he is playing because he's played well. He's physically mature. He's got to continue to mature as a player, but physically he's mature. His skating and his skillset are all to the point where he can be an NHL player, but that's a hard position to play and there is experience needed. With [Kevin] Connauton and [Michael] Stone both out he got a real good opportunity to show what he can do and he's taken advantage of it."
BONUS QUESTION: How did you know Coyotes general manager John Chayka was a guy that you could work with, believe in and trust?
"I got to know him a little bit last year when he was assistant GM. We were just talking about how he sees the game, how he evaluates the game, and a lot of that stuff is stuff I've been doing for a long time but just taken to another level. We've had a good rapport for a long time. He's a very intelligent young man. I always tell people that. People who sit down with him for an hour they walk away and they say to me, 'OK, I get it now.' Once you spend some time with him you understand where he comes from."