BY VIKTOR TIKHONOV
Training camp is in full swing, so I thought I would offer everyone an inside look at what has gone on in Phoenix lately.
My pre-season started with five days of rookie camp. Many of us hadn’t played for three or four months, so there was a lot of energy and some rust, but it was a good overall effort nonetheless.
In camp, everyone stays at the same hotel, so you get to know guys pretty quickly. My roommate is Kevin Porter, the former Michigan Wolverine. Our hotel is right next to the rink, so we could walk there in about 10 minutes every day.
Rookie camp consisted of on-ice testing the first day, then practice, two games and another hard practice. After that, the rest of the Coyotes came in for regular training camp, which has been great so far.
It started off with more physical testing – bike work, strength tests, etc., similar to the draft combine but with less stations – before moving on to practices and games.
From Day 1 it has felt like family here, smiles all around. You would think with so many battles for roster spots you would get some cold looks every once and awhile, but that hasn’t happened at all. Usually there are one or two veterans who will help you along the way, but here it’s everyone.
One of the coolest things we’ve done is make phone calls to season-ticket holders, thanking them for their support. They were pretty surprised to hear us on the other end of the line!
I also got a big boost of confidence from coach Wayne Gretzky when he announced I would likely start the season on a line with Martin Hanzal and Daniel Winnik. It was a great surprise and a big relief. It pushes me to keep going hard.
As for the games so far, we had two rookie-camp matches against the Kings and the player who stood out the most for Los Angeles was goaltender Jonathan Bernier. He played in the first match and was definitely on top of his game.
Since the rookie camp contests, I have played in five other pre-season games. I think I did pretty well in the first three, but the past two contests against San Jose were kind of sketchy, as I turned the puck over a couple times.
Along the way I’ve gotten to play against some top-notch competition. Against Calgary, my line started off opposite Jarome Iginla and Todd Bertuzzi. It was pretty cool lining up against them. Coach Gretzky has played a lot of the young guys on special teams so far, so I’ve seen ample time on both the power play and penalty kill. The experience has been all positive so far.
Viktor Tikhonov is a 20-year-old right winger who was drafted 28th overall by the Phoenix Coyotes at the 2008 draft. Last year, he played in the Russian Super League (now the Kontinental League) for Severstal and is the grandson of legendary coach Viktor Tikhonov. He'll be blogging for THN.com throughout the 2008-09 season. Read his other blog entries HERE.