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Rick Tocchet impressed with quality of Coyotes’ 1st training camp practice

Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet has said repeatedly that he prefers to keep an even-keeled attitude, but he admitted Monday after the first day of return-to-play training camp practice that he was happy with what he saw.

“As much as the players are excited, the coaching staff is excited,” he said. “I’m not just saying I was impressed with the day, I really liked the work ethic. I actually thought the skill level was a lot farther than I thought [it would be] after being off so much. That’s a credit to the guys for skating in phase 2, I think it really helped the transition of our first day in phase three. So I was really impressed.

“I think we went 55 minutes and they were gassed at the end, but I tell you what, I was expecting them to be gassed halfway through practice and they weren’t. So I’m really impressed with the first day of practice.”

The Coyotes and other NHL teams have begun training camps (phase 3) in advance of a 24-team playoff tournament (phase 4) to determine a Stanley Cup winner after the season was stopped in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. A roster of 32 players is present in Glendale for the skates.

Part of the quality of Monday’s opening practice was attributed to the work the players and staff did in phases 1 (quarantine) and 2 (small-group workouts) to stay in shape and remain prepared.

“We had a lot of guys buy into phase 2, and a lot of guys were around the arena, working on their game, working out with the strength coaches, and I think you saw that today,” forward Taylor Hall said. “Not only are guys familiar with playing with other guys on the team, but they’ve been skating at the Gila for a while now, and I think that always helped just to feel comfortable going into a training camp like this. I think familiarity and comfort level is going to be huge going into these games here.”

When the Coyotes get to Edmonton, which is the hub city they’ll be in for the duration of their time in the postseason tournament, they’ll have to remain disciplined and deal with what’s thrown at them.

“If I’ve got to wear a mask, I’ve got to wear a mask. If I’ve got to coach with no whistle, no whistle,” Tocchet said. “I’ll deal with that, just like our players have to deal with when we enter the bubble there. We’ll have to deal with things. We’re stripped of some stuff, but in life, it’s nothing to what other people get stripped of. We’re not too worried of what’s presented in front of us right now. We’re just worried about, whatever’s being told we’ve got to do, we’ve got to do, and let’s play hockey. That’s really [what] the guys are marching to right now.”

On Monday, it was revealed in the NBA that the Sacramento Kings’ Richaun Holmes crossed a boundary at the league’s hub site in Orlando and now has to quarantine for 10 days. The Coyotes will look to avoid those sorts of missteps.

“I saw a guy left the campus to get delivery food and now he had to quarantine for 10 days,” Hall said. “I think guys are going to be smart about it. I think guys know it’s going to be a different situation going into it. You’re going to have to be prepared to get used to your hotel room and get used to hanging around the guys as much as you can and just enjoy it.”


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