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THE DESERT DOG BLOG: CHECKING IN WITH THE G.M.

Friday, 12.04.2009 / 11:15 AM / The Desert Dog Blog - by Dave Vest
By Dave Vest
The Coyotes are now more than one-third of the way through the regular season so I figured it made sense to check in with General Manager Don Maloney to get his thoughts on what he has seen so far and what he hopes to see over the next four months and beyond.

Here are some highlights of our conversation:

Q: The team is 16-11-1 and in sixth place in the Western Conference standings. Are you pleased with those numbers?

A: “I’m satisfied where we are given the fact that we had the injuries to our blue line and our hectic travel schedule in the month of November. We played a lot of games with a lot of travel and to come out of it with our heads above water I thought was an accomplishment. In December, hopefully we can start making a charge up the standings. I think we’re well-positioned health-wise, and our chemistry is excellent. We play a great defensive style without the puck and there is much more upside offensively that we haven’t seen yet. We’re waiting for that to come to the forefront on a consistent basis.

“If you look at our team, we’ve proven we can play against anybody because of the way our goaltending has played and the way our defensive style has been. It’s just a matter of scoring enough goals."

Q: Peter Mueller is struggling to score goals. Your thoughts?

Peter Mueller
A: “We have to be patient with Peter because everyone expects him to be a 30-goal, 80-point offensive star. I think he can be that. It hasn’t happened yet. Does that mean it’s going to happen in the next week or the next month? I don’t know. The last thing we’re going to do is start throwing away top young talent. You need talent to win and he’s got it. We have to, as an organization, figure out a way to get him back to where we think he can be. He’s poised. He’s in terrific shape and he’s skating better, it’s just his game hasn’t come together. It’s just off right now. But it’s a long year and we’ve seen people turn it around before. This isn’t the time to say ‘Well, he’s no good, let’s throw him out with the wash.’ That’s not going to happen.”

Q: Viktor Tikhonov left the team’s affiliate in the American Hockey League to play in Russia instead. Can you explain why this happened and if there are any hard feelings between Tikhonov and the Coyotes?

A: “Viktor had the right in his contract to play in Russia versus the American Hockey League. When we decided to send him down to San Antonio, he agreed to go down there for a time; I thought his pace was a little off and he needed to be a little quicker. He’s played well down there but we just haven’t been in a position to bring him back here. It’s probably a tribute to the way Daniel Winnik and Paul Bissonnette and Lauri Korpikoski have played. It just didn’t happen for him so he elected to return to Russia. He’s there now and last I heard he’s practicing with a junior team for now. … We fully expect him back. I hope he gets back to us this year, but if not this year then certainly next September. We still have a very good relationship. There’s no animosity and there’s no anger at all. There was a right we gave him and he took it.”

Q: Captain Shane Doan is leading the team in points but his numbers are not Doan-like. Are you disappointed in his scoring stats?

A: “Shane doesn’t have to get a point and he’s still a valuable and contributing member of our team. Would we like him to produce more? Yes. In that way, Shane is no different than Petr Prucha and Radim Vrbata and Robert Lang and Matthew Lombardi. We need him to be a consistently productive player. I think Shane is scoring below his own standards and certainly below what ours are, and yet he does so many other things. But we need goal production from him like we need from everybody. For us to have success, he needs to contribute to our offense a little more consistently.”

Thanks for reading.

Dave
thedesertdogblog@phoenixcoyotes.com
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