ARIZONA COYOTES

‘Yotes Notes: Lyubushkin, Joseph among players at informal workouts

Aug 14, 2018, 6:26 PM | Updated: 6:29 pm
(AP photos)...
(AP photos)
(AP photos)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – A handful of Coyotes prospects and NHL roster players have been skating informally at the Ice Den Scottsdale since June. The numbers will start to swell with training camp a month away. On Tuesday, Coyotes Brad Richardson, Brendan Perlini, Josh Archibald, Kevin Connauton, prospects P.O. Joseph, Kyle Capobianco, Ilya Lyubushkin, Brayden Burke and Tucson Roadrunners forward Trevor Cheek were all on the ice.

New Jersey Devils goalie Eddie Lack and a local goaltender were in net.

Lyubushkin said he has been in Arizona for two days and is living at a hotel. The Coyotes signed the right-handed defenseman to a one-year, two-way contract in May. The 24-year-old Russian played for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League last season.

Lyubushkin is still learning English and will likely lean on Alex Galchenyuk as a translator, a team official said.

Joseph said he has been in Arizona for all but two weeks of the summer, sharing an apartment with prospects Nick Merkley and Cam Dineen.

“We have the pool and spend a lot of time on the ice so we don’t have too much time to think about the heat,” Joseph said. “Just looking at these guys practicing and working out, the difference between the junior level and pro is just amazing. You can see what you need to do to make the NHL. Just being around these guys, I feel like I’m improving every day.”

RICHARDSON WANTS TO PLAY CENTER

There has been plenty of external analysis of the Coyotes’ center position with Derek Stepan, Alex Galchenyuk, Christian Dvorak, Brad Richardson and Dylan Strome all seemingly slotted at that position. Richardson signed a two-year, $2.5 million contract in July, freeing the Coyotes to trade Marcus Kruger to the Blackhawks in the deal that brought wing Vinnie Hinostroza to Arizona.

Barring a trade or injury, it is clear that one of those centers will have to move to the wing, but Richardson hopes it isn’t him.

“I want to play center and I’m not really interested in wing,” he said. “Sometimes late in the game, you could play wing when we’re doing different things, but I don’t feel as comfortable as I do at center, that’s for sure. If it happens it happens and I’ll have to deal with it but I don’t see that happening.”

Richardson played 76 games last season after a broken right tibia and fibula limited him to 16 the season before. While he felt he regained his speed and some of his game after the new year, he is still on the mend.

“The first half I didn’t feel good at all. It kind of affected my whole body and everything hurt, to be honest,” he said. “There’s still some lingering things. I feel night and day different from the start of last year, but it’s still a work in progress. I basically had to retrain myself how to walk and then coming through that, everything is affected. Your back locks up, you get pain in a lot of different places and you start using your other leg a lot more so it throws your body out of whack. Trying to get everything back in sync is a process.”

CONNAUTON GETS MARRIED

It was a good summer for defenseman Kevin Connauton. He signed a two-year, $2.75 million contract to remain with the Coyotes. That security helped ease his mind heading into another big event.

Connauton married Brooke Horan on July 12 in Huntington, New York. Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon was one of the groomsmen.

“It was nice to get a deal done prior to it,” Connauton said. “It made the night a little more enjoyable. I was trying not to think about it too much but it’s pretty wild when you miss the playoffs. It’s a long period of time waiting around before July 1 (the start of free agency).

“Two years (contract) was nice and not having to move was nice. I’ve moved a lot in my career so to get to stick around the same team for a number of years, it feels really good.”

PERLINI GOES HOME

On the Coyotes’ exit day after this past season, forward Brendan Perlini slipped up and told reporters he was headed back to his homeland of England for the first time in a decade this offseason. It was supposed to be a surprise so he swore the reporters to secrecy.

“It all worked out well, even the surprise,” said Perlini, who spent two-and-a-half weeks in Europe. “It was almost déjà vu because you haven’t seen your buddies in 10 years and everyone looked the same, just a little taller. It wasn’t long enough. Next year, I’m going to try and go over for a lot longer.”

Perlini saw some old friends and family, played St. Andrews golf course in Scotland, took a side trip to Spain and spent a handful of days in his hometown of Guildford, England. While there, he watched England fall in gut-wrenching fashion to Croatia in the World Cup, losing a lead in the 68th minute and falling, 2-1, in the 109th minute.

“I was almost about to throw my TV out the window,” Perlini said, laughing. “I thought it was going to be their year this year, at least to get to the final, but they’re building up. By the next World Cup they’re going to be a lot older and more experienced. Now the focus for me switches to Man[chester] United. I’ve moved on.”

DOAN IN THE HOUSE

One day after the Ice Den Scottsdale named one of its rinks after him, former Coyote Shane Doan addressed reporters at Gila River Arena to further discuss his impending jersey retirement. As usually happens with Doan, the 26-minute conversation meandered into other topics.

Among the tidbits:

Doan reminded media in attendance that he actually started his pro career wearing No. 21 with the Winnipeg Jets. No. 19 wasn’t available at the start of his rookie season because forward Nelson Emerson was wearing it. The Jets traded Emerson to the Hartford Whalers during camp and the team’s equipment manager asked Doan if he’d like to switch to No. 19, but Doan wanted to wait until he knew he had made the team.

“I didn’t think I was going to make the team in camp so I was like ‘Whoa, I’m not changing my number before they cut me,'” Doan said Monday. “I said ‘if I make it to nine games in the NHL, I’ll switch after my ninth game.’ So, for my first nine games I wore No. 21 and then on the 10th game I switched to No. 19.”

Doan can be found wearing that No. 21 on his rookie card.

Doan was also asked for his favorite Coyotes memory and he cited beating the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs and finally escaping the first round as a highlight.

“I had been trying and trying and trying and been disappointed so many times,” said Doan of the Coyotes’ first playoff series win in the Valley. “It wasn’t like an unbelievable moment, but it was one of those things I’ll never forget, sitting there thinking ‘Finally!’ That was cool.”

SUMMER CLASSIC

Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and goalie Antti Raanta were participants in the Henke & Zucca Summer Classic, a charity hockey game hosted by Raanta’s former New York Rangers teammates Henrik Lundqvist and Mats Zuccarello before about 23,000 fans at Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo, Norway on Saturday.

Proceeds from the event went “to assist children and young people in challenging situations around the world,” per the official website.

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