With the start of the hockey season less than a month away, teams are now beginning to regroup with their respected teams to prepare for the upcoming season in training camp. It’s a great time for players to see one another once again and train to achieve the ultimate goal. For the Arizona Coyotes, players are about to meet some new faces within the group.
New players such as center Derek Stepan, defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, goaltender Antti Raanta and many more including new head coach Rick Tocchet. “It’s been fun and I think it’s going more fun when the whole team is together,” Raanta said upon his arrival into the valley. Raanta is set to become the Coyotes starting goaltender and is excited to get started in that role. “You get butterflies in your stomach, but it’s going to be awesome,” Raanta added.
Another new member of the group, Derek Stepan, compared his role as the new guy in the group to him being “the new kid trying on the first day of school trying to find friends as fast as possible.” Stepan is set to be the Coyotes’ new number one center. When he arrived for the first time at training camp he was immediately excited, also feeling that this team “is a really hungry group,” and can’t wait to embrace his new role with the Yotes. Stepan is also ready to embrace his leadership role. “it’s something that when I was a young guy I had older guys do it for me so I want to do the same thing for them.”
Niklas Hjalmarsson is excited to play along side the Coyotes’ star defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Hjalmarsson is use to playing with OEL in the Olympics for team Sweden and has formed a strong relationship with him. “It’ll be a fun Swedish connection,” Niklas added. Even Anthony Duclair stated that this duo “could be deadly.”
Returning players are also excited, but one player stands out amongst the rest of the group. Brad Richardson, who missed almost the entire season last year due to breaking his leg, seems to be the most excited to get back onto the ice. His expectations for himself is to not only stay healthy, but to get better again.
Even head coach Rick Tocchet can see the excitement in the group. “There’s a lot of energy” in this group, he added. Tocchet wants his players to “embrace the struggle” and face the reality that things will only be getting harder; “embrace the commitment,” he concluded.
As of now, the Coyotes still have no confirmed named captain. Although rumors are believed that Oliver Ekman-Larsson will be named the new captain, head coach Rick Tocchet and general manager John Chayka think that it will sort out on its own and that there is leadership all throughout the locker room. Tocchet mentioned that even guys “that haven’t had a letter were main leaders… good leadership is the heartbeat of the group,” he said.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson is hoping to have a bounce-back season from last year as he struggled heavily due to the passing of his mother. He mentioned that he was glad he had the summer to deal with that whole situation, but is excited to refocus on hockey.
Max Domi is also ready to get back to work for the upcoming season. “We are confident that our team go better in the offseason… it’s an exciting group,” he said in a recent interview.
So it seems as though excitement is radiating all throughout this group of guys and are making the upcoming NHL season appear to be a highly promising one.
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