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Coyotes GM Chayka: Team improving despite winless record

Arizona Coyotes team president of hockey operations John Chayka speaks during a news conference for the NHL hockey team Thursday, July 13, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
LISTEN: John Chayka, Arizona Coyotes general manager

The Arizona Coyotes’ leadership says the team is improving despite a winless record going into Thursday’s matchup vs. the New York Rangers.

Both general manager John Chayka and first-year head coach Rick Tocchet said the team needs to make better decisions in crucial game situations to turn around their losing ways. The Coyotes are 0-8-1 going into Thursday’s game. The record is the second-longest losing streak to start a season in NHL history.

Chayka, in his second season as the general manager, said the team needs to fight through adversity to grow and learn to win games.

“Instead of finding ways to win, we are finding ways to lose,” Chayka told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

The general manager said the Coyotes have been competitive and gotten off to a good start early in games.

The Coyotes don’t lack effort and Chayka said hitting the panic button isn’t exactly in the game plan for the 2017-18 season.

In fact, there have been a few bright spots so far in the young season.

Coyotes forward Clayton Keller has 10 points through nine games.

Tocchet echoed his general manager’s assessment.

“I really like the compete level of the young guys,” Tocchet said on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo.

“That’s something when I first got here that I said we had to do. We had to make sure we stay with this process. Their energy level had to be up – there is no quit. I feel every game they aren’t quitting. They are playing hard.”

Tocchet said his team has struggled to close out games where the game was winnable.

Still, the coach acknowledged the group of young talent such as Keller could light some sort of a spark.

“He does all the right things and he’s only 19 years old,” Tocchet said. “I’m playing this kid – you know almost 20 minutes a game. I’m getting a little nervous – maybe I’m overplaying him. But he’s so competitive. He’s producing. How can I not play the kid?”

The Coyotes take on the Rangers at 4 p.m. Thursday, who are currently in last place in the Eastern Conference with a 2-6-2 record. You can hear the action on ESPN 620 AM.

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