The start of training camp has always been a major milestone in the lead-up to hockey. The ice is put down first, including this year's delightfully retro purple crescent moon, but ice is just frozen water until the players lace up their skates.
This season's Coyotes will be unlike the team that played last year. Gone is midseason acquisition Taylor Hall and long time players like Brad Richardson, Michael Grabner, and Derek Stepan, in is Derick Brassard and a heavier fourth line featuring Johan Larsson, Tyler Pitlick, and John Hayden.
This will also be the first year of the Bill Armstrong area. Former General Manager John Chayka did remake the Coyotes, and it will be up to Armstrong to decide if the team needs to be stripped down and rebuilt, or if the team can make tweaks and move continue to improve.
But not everything has changed. The team still has Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta in net, despite some off-season rumblings. The blue line will also be largely the same, with Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Jakob Chychrun, Jason Demers, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Alex Goligoski, Jordan Oesterle, and Ilya Lyubushkin all returning.
There are still plenty of questions moving forward. Is this the year Barrett Hayton takes the next big step forward in his development and become the first-line center the team drafted him to be? Will we get to see Victor Söderström or Kyle Capobianco play in the NHL? Will Phil Kessel have a bounce-back season after being limited to just 14 goals and 38 points last season?
But the only way these questions will be answered is by playing the games. And in ten days we will get to see Coyotes' hockey return in their opener against the Scottsdale Sharks.