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THE DESERT DOG BLOG: ROOKIE CAMP NOTES AND QUOTES

Wednesday, 09.17.2008 / 8:16 PM / The Desert Dog Blog - by Dave Vest
By Dave Vest
Information, observations and anecdotes about the Coyotes
as told by Dave Vest, the team's V.P. of News Content


The two rookie games against the L.A. Kings are over and the attention now turns to the start of training camp on Saturday morning. Before moving forward, let’s take a quick look back.

First, I hope those of you who watched Tuesday night’s rookie game here on phoenixcoyotes.com enjoyed our first ever webcast of a game. Our thanks go out to Heidi Androl and everyone else at the Kings for their help in the venture.

The first thing I noticed about Tuesday night’s game was that many of the young Coyotes appeared nervous and tentative at the start before settling down in the second period. I wasn’t the only one who noticed this. In fact, the message from management to the players before Wednesday’s matinee was basically take a deep breath, settle down and play hockey. It worked, and Phoenix won Wednesday’s game 3-0.



Goalie Kurtis Mucha impressed many on Tuesday night despite losing 2-1, and his 25-save performance earned him an invitation to training camp as the sixth goalie along with Ilya Bryzgalov, Mikael Tellqvist, Josh Tordjman, Al Montoya and Joel Gistedt.

The Coyotes gave Mucha a tryout because they looked beyond his stats at Portland (WHL) last season, when he posted a 9-36-2 record. Then, they gave him an unplanned start on Tuesday night because he impressed them so much the first few days of the rookie camp.

“He’s in great shape and he’s a competitor,” Assistant General Manager Brad Treliving told me. “He’s played well and given himself a chance to get noticed.”

Mucha looks at this as a chance to not only try out for the Coyotes, but all 30 NHL teams.

“It’s a huge opportunity for me,” Mucha said. “Any time you can go to a pro camp is a good thing for me. I’m trying to do my best out there.”

Defenseman David Schlemko, who played primarily for the team’s CHL affiliate in Prescott Valley last season, also turned some heads in the two games against Los Angeles with his poise and puck movement skills.



For those who’ve written me asking where new assistant coach Doug Sulliman was stationed for the two rookie games against the Kings, the answer is in the press box. Head Coach Wayne Gretzky said he’s decided that’s where Sulliman will be positioned for every game along with Goaltenders Coach Grant Fuhr.



Gretzky fielded questions about the young players after Wednesday’s rookie game. Near the end of the press conference, I asked him how excited he was for training camp to start on Saturday and he basically said he couldn’t wait.

“This is a unique team in the sense that this team is very, very, very talented,” Gretzky said. “It’s got a lot of youth but it’s a really talented group and it’s a good group to be around and we’re anticipating making the playoffs…This is a really exciting time for this organization and we’re really looking forward to Saturday.”

So am I.

Thanks for reading.

Dave
thedesertdogblog@phoenixcoyotes.com



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