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Desert Dog Blog: NHL Combine Sets Table for Draft

GLENDALE – Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney and Assistant General Manager Brad Treliving are in Toronto this week at the NHL Combine.

Maloney and Treliving are there, among their peers, to observe the players who will be selected in this month’s NHL Entry Draft perform physical tests. Before they return to Phoenix, they will interview about 75 of the players. The interviews last between 10-15 minutes, but Maloney and Treliving will interview a handful of those 75 players at greater length after hours over a meal.

“The NHL Combine is a critical event for our hockey department heading into the Draft,” Treliving said. “It’s a great opportunity for our scouts and management to watch players during the fitness testing and assess their physical development. We also get an opportunity to interview players individually and find out more about their personality and mental make-up.”

The Coyotes have eight selections in this year’s draft, including one in the first round – the 20th overall pick. Beyond that, Phoenix, as of today, has two picks in the second round, one pick in the fourth round, one pick in the fifth round, one pick in the sixth round and two picks in the seventh round. The exact order of selection of picks after the first round won’t be set until a few days before the draft.

The 2011 NHL Entry Draft will take place at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn., on June 24-25. I am looking forward to attending it and covering it for I don’t think I’ve ever been to Minnesota when the temperature was above, oh, 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

• After a lengthy layoff following the conference finals, the Stanley Cup Final begins tonight with Game 1 between Boston and Vancouver. I am expecting the Canucks to win this series in convincing fashion. From my chair, they simply have more offensive weapons than the Bruins, an elite goalie and home-ice advantage. Enough said.

• I spent 90 minutes or so watching Coyotes forward Paul Bissonnette and TV/Radio Analyst Tyson Nash tend bar at RA Sushi in Scottsdale on Tuesday night. Looking for big tips they could donate to the St. Jude Children’s Hospital, the guys chatted with bar patrons and then dazzled them with their drink-mixing skills.

I, too, was impressed. I had no idea those guys knew how to make drinks like a Sloe Gin Fizz or a White Russian. I thought for sure the only thing they knew how to make was a shoe stink! (Thank you writers of Caddyshack – I’ve been waiting years to borrow that joke from you).

• Shane Doan is the only active NHL player who played for the Winnipeg Jets in their final season before they moved to Phoenix in 1996. Naturally, Doan was asked to comment about Winnipeg rejoining the NHL in 2011-12.

Here’s his response:

“I’m very happy for all the great hockey fans in Winnipeg on getting NHL hockey back. It’s great to have another NHL team in Canada. Winnipeg is a passionate hockey town and I know they will support their team. I’m also happy for all the Thrashers players and their families. It’s nice that they have stability and will not have to deal with two years of uncertainty like us.”

• I usually write exclusively about the Coyotes and/or the NHL in this blog, but I am making an exception today. Something away from hockey is on my mind.

Growing up a baseball player/fan, I always admired Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter for his skills, his love of baseball and the enthusiasm with which he played the game. I was ecstatic when he joined my beloved New York Mets in 1985, so much so that I felt the need to be at Shea Stadium for Carter’s debut with the Mets on April 9. Despite sitting in a nosebleed section in left field, I will never, ever forget the thrill Carter provided me when he hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning to beat the St. Louis Cardinals. As a 20-year veteran of sports reporting, I’ve witnessed many memorable moments in pro and college sports in person. Honestly, I value that one from my teen years more than any of them.

I bring this up because Carter recently was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. I will end this blog by wishing him all the best in his battle, and thanking him publicly for that memory in 1985 and for being one of my role models.

Reach Dave Vest via
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