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THE DESERT DOG BLOG: HANG IN THERE, IT'S ALMOST AUGUST

Thursday, 07.22.2010 / 5:06 PM / The Desert Dog Blog - by Dave Vest
By Dave Vest
GLENDALE – Things are pretty quiet around the office/arena these days as July slowly but surely comes to an end. August is just around the corner now and that means Coyotes players soon will be trickling back into the Valley to start skating informally at the Alltel Ice Den in Scottsdale to get ready for training camp.

We had a nice turnout last night at the Open House, and many people there purchased season tickets for the 2010-11 season. I encourage those who haven’t to do so because the pricing is fantastic and the home schedule is sweet with players such as Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, Henrik Sedin and Ryan Miller all coming to Glendale this season.

► Click here to watch a video highlighting the 2010-11 home schedule.

I spoke to many fans last night and all were thrilled about the upcoming season. So many are eager for it to start this week! Patience, my friends, patience. Training camp will be here before you know it.

"I would like to think that they can at least get back to where they were last year, if not win in the first round of the playoffs," Coyotes fan Bill Hill said. "It will be tougher though because they won't be sneaking up on people (like last season)."

Coyotes fan Amy Jo Green also has high expectations for 2010-11.

"We are going to win the Cup for sure," Green said. "We would have made a strong run at it last year if Shane Doan wasn't so selfless and went flying over (Red WIngs goalie Jimmy) Howard (and injured himself). This year we are definitely going to go far in the playoffs, all the way to the Cup."

Several fans asked me if the Coyotes still were shopping the free-agent market for players. The answer, General Manger Don Maloney told me this morning, is yes.

Maloney didn't name the players he's interested in, but he did tell me: “We still would like to add a shutdown defenseman to replace Zbynek Michalek, if we can find a guy at a good rate.”

Having said that, Maloney reiterated that young defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Maxim Goncharov would both get long looks at training camp, and that one or both may be ready to make the jump to the NHL this season.

► Click here to read a story about Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s performance at the 2010 Prospect Development Camp.

Lee Stempniak.
I then asked Maloney about forward Lee Stempniak, an unrestricted free agent who has yet to sign with any team.

“We still have interest in Lee Stempniak but we are looking to sign him at a real value price, and frankly I’m not sure what it is right now,” Maloney said.

In other words, it has become a waiting game for both sides.

“We’ve had occasional conversations with Lee’s agent but this is not something that we’re talking about daily,” Maloney said. “He likes us, we like him, and he’s testing the market. If he gets more term and more money than we’re offering then, obviously, he won’t be back with us. That hasn’t happened yet. We’d love to have him back but it’s going to have to be on a real good deal. Right now the deal he’s seeking is too high for us.”

► Click here to watch a video interview with Lee Stempniak.

Maloney made similar remarks about unsigned restricted free agent Martin Hanzal. Nevertheless, Maloney said he’s very confident the sides will eventually reach a deal both can live with. But, he added, “It might not happen until October.”

► Click here to watch a video interview with Martin Hanzal.

Reach Dave Vest at thedesertdogblog@phoenixcoyotes.com
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