Coyotes rookie camp serves dual purpose

Sep 16, 2016, 7:00 AM | Updated: Sep 17, 2016, 9:51 am

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Coyotes fans have been using social media the last few seasons to count down the days to the season opener by using the jersey numbers of Arizona players.

In reality, the season starts much sooner for the players, coaches and management staff. Coyotes rookies report to rookie camp today with their first on-ice session scheduled for Saturday at Gila River Arena.

The values of rookie camp are numerous, but there are two key benefits.

“It helps kids new to hockey here in Arizona get comfortable practicing and playing in the big arena with management watching them and interacting with them,” said associate coach Jim Playfair, who will run the camp while coach Dave Tippett is helping coach Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey. “Once they get to camp, they realize quickly that there are hockey games coming right away so I think getting them acclimated with the environment and the group is important, and once the games start it gives them a leg up going into the next portion of training camp.”

There is a benefit to the coaches and management staff, too, Playfair said.

“We can see a lot easier what they did over the summer when they are away from the larger group and get a feel for where they have improved,” Playfair said. “What happened with players over the course of the last 10 years is they have done a much better job of self-committing to a higher level of training. They recognize where we want to prioritize their individual improvement and this gives us a good look at how far they’ve come.”

Playfair said that Tippett and the coaching and management team sat down to hammer out a camp plan before Tippett departed for the World Cup. Players will begin their days around 8 a.m. with breakfast, and then they have meetings, stretching with strength and conditioning coordinator J.P. Major and then a video session to go over the concepts they’ll be practicing on the ice. Then, they’ll practice with a resurfacing of the ice breaking up the practice, do an off-ice workout, go through a cool-down period and break for lunch.

“The practices we’ve put together will be fundamental drills we’ve used in the past that the players are familiar with and recognize the value of,” Playfair said. “We’re still focusing on the same concepts of creating offense, how do we get pucks and people to the net, how do we get more responsible when the puck is turned over, and how do we make sure we’re a real hard team to score against?

“With the smaller group, they get a lot more reps so you really get the chance to drive home these concepts.”

All of the Coyotes’ top prospects are expected to participate in rookie camp, including goalie Adin Hill, defensemen Jakob Chychrun, Cam Dineen and Kyle Wood, centers Dylan Strome, Christian Dvorak and Ryan MacInnis, left wings Brendan Perlini and Lawson Crouse and right wings Christian Fischer and Nick Merkley.

Merkley had surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered in February while finishing a check for Kelowna against Spokane in the Western Hockey League. He has been cleared for contact and all hockey-related activities.

View the full rookie camp roster

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Rookie camp schedule

1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – On-Ice Practice
2:45 p.m. – Media Availability

10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. – On-Ice Practice
12:00 p.m. – Media Availability

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – On-Ice Practice
12:45 p.m. – Media Availability

9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. – Pre-Game Skate
10:30 a.m. – Media Availability
6:00 p.m. – Game vs. Los Angeles Kings
Postgame Media Availability

10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – Practice (Non-Game Players)
11:30 a.m. – Media Availability
2:00 p.m. – Game vs. Los Angeles Kings
Postgame Media Availability

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