I'm not going to lie - I'm not a hockey scout, or prospect expert, so I won't pretend to have any tremendous observations to have after observing most of the first day of training camp for the Phoenix Coyotes. What I will say, it felt tremendous to have hockey back in the Valley. I would encourage everyone to watch some of the videos on the Coyotes' official team site that will have some highlights and comments from Dave Tippett and others on the coaching staff.
But here are a few of the things that excited me from where I was sitting:
-Andy Miele really wants to make this team. He was fighting for every puck during the scrimmage (when I arrived) and was winning every heat during the final skate conditioning drill...oh, and Ray Whitney seemed to enjoy having someone his height on the team as well.
-Oliver Ekman-Larsson looks like he worked on his strength during the offseason. He still is skating smooth as all else, but he seemed to be able to do a better job of keeping forwards from parking themselves in the crease during certain drills. I really liked him paired with Adrian Aucoin which seemed to be the usual pairing. Speaking of Aucoin, the old man was schooling the kids during the conditioning drills at the end.
A few more thoughts, and a personal highlight of the day after the jump...-Derek Morris seemed to be in much better shape than I think we saw him all of last year. He was skating stronger and doing a good job keeping up with Keith Yandle throughout the drills. Of course, he did shatter a stick during the one-timer drill, but that's to be expected, I suppose.
-Viktor Tikhonov showed some good spirits and lots and lots of hair...it was really quite something sticking out of his helmet from all sides. I know he has the right to go to the KHL if he doesn't make the big squad which I think may be a bit of a stretch for him right now. But I think if he accepts a move back to Portland for part of the year, we may see him back in Phoenix when the inevitable injury bug comes sweeping through.
-Daymond Langkow and Raffi Torres seemed right at home during the scrimmage. I missed their drill times, but I'm confident that both players will add significant depth up front and a good bit of toughness.
-Paul Bissonnette was having a good time during the drills and even blasted several shots past the trio of goalies on the ice with him. No patented one-knee slappers, but a few good looking shots. Saw him take two laps around the ice with Coach Tippett joking about something, perhaps the NHL's new social media policy...
-Mikkel Boedker apparently scored on every drill from what I was seeing. He's got a new contract in placed (which really should serve as a basis for Kyle Turris) and he seems relaxed on the ice and confident in making a difference on this squad. One point of concern was that he was dragging during the conditioning drills which isn't what I expect to see from a guy with his speed. Of course, Lauri Korpikoski was schooling people right next to him (oh and BizNasty was trying to keep up which almost left him puking on the ice; good times!).
-The goalies were adequate, although nothing topped Justin Pogge's shorts falling down a fair bit during the conditioning drills and skating the last few rounds with his pants being held up by his pads. Mike Smith looked confident (and his new mask looks terrific in person).
-Finally, the new glass is really quite nice to sit behind - quite clear with a ton of flex to it. When hits would happen right in front of us, it seemed as if the glass came all the way down to the front row. This will be quite exciting in the new season.
And for my favorite moment of the day, following the final drills, me, my wife and @Yotesgurl went to lunch at Yard House and a few of the Coyotes younger players were making their way around the Westgate shops, including AJ's favorite BB goalie, Louie Domingue. He was very gracious and took a picture with her which you can see on my Twitter feed here.