GLENDALE – Center Mike Ribeiro has made plenty of new friends in the dressing room over the first two days of Coyotes Training Camp, but he has a definite advantage over the other newcomers.
He knows the boss pretty well.
“He’s easy to communicate with,” Ribeiro said of Head Coach Dave Tippett, whom he played for with Dallas for six seasons. “I think he respects his players, and for us it’s easy to respect him. He’s a guy who is calm behind the bench, and the biggest thing is that he respects his players. I think he defines roles properly to players and you’re not confused about what you’re supposed to do for him or for the team. You know your role and it’s just easier to do your job when you know what you’re supposed to do out there.”
Ribeiro, who signed a multi-year contract with the Coyotes on the first day of the free-agent signing period, is practicing with Team A at camp. His linemates so far have been captain Shane Doan and winger Mikkel Boedker.
“He's a high-skill player,” Tippett told Arizona Sports 620, the team's new flagship station. “We've had solid teams, we've had really good, hard-working teams, but the one aspect of our game that we've been lacking a little bit is the high skill, especially at center ice.
“Mike, he's our smallest player in camp, but he's probably the most clever with the puck. When the center iceman has that much skill and has the puck that much, it helps out the other forwards -- it helps out everybody on the ice.”
Tippett is auditioning the Boedker-Ribeiro-Doan trio as the top line.
“The most important thing for me is to make my teammates better and try to create offense for them and make sure we win some games,” Ribeiro said.
No matter which teammates Ribeiro ends up playing with, he is excited to start this new chapter in his career.
“It’s great to start a new season with a new team,” Ribeiro said. “…You can see a young defense here with a lot of skills and that we have a chance to win. One of my goals is to win a Cup and I believe with the coaching staff we have here, and the players, that we’re going in the right direction and I’m happy to be here and help them.”
Ribeiro also has been reunited with goalie Mike Smith; they were teammates in Dallas under Tippett not too long ago.
Smith is excited to have Ribeiro on his team again.
“It’s great,” Smith said. “He’s a really good player and a really good guy off the ice. He’s definitely going to help our team. I think it’s just what we needed up front and down the middle. He’s definitely going to bring a lot of patience on the ice.”
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