Season On Ice: Arizona Coyotes Ready For Return
The Arizona Coyotes resumed practice this week at Gila River Arena in Glendale, preparing for a best-of-five playoff-qualifying round matchup against the Nashville Predators that begins on Aug. 2.
Getting back on the ice has been difficult after a long layoff and with new rules in the age of coronavirus. Coyotes head coach Rick Toccet acknowledges the sacrifices and adjustments that players and coaches will need to make.
“If I’ve gotta wear a mask, I’ve got to wear a mask. If I have to coach with no whistle, no whistle. I’ll deal with that. You know, we’re stripped of some stuff, but like in life, it’s nothing like what other people get stripped of. So, whatever we’re told we have to do, we have to do, so let’s play hockey," Toccet said.
Games will be played without fans. Arizona is among 24 teams that will compete in qualifying rounds for the 16-team Stanley Cup playoffs. The coronavirus pandemic paused the NHL season back in March.
The Coyotes first exhibition game is July 30 against the Vegas Golden Knights in Edmonton, one of two so-called "hub cities" where games will be played. Toronto is the other. The conference and NHL Finals will also be in Edmonton.
Players, coaches, staff and media in the NHL bubbles are all subject to testing.
The Coyotes were 33-29-8 (ties) when the season was paused. They would not have qualified for the playoffs under the normal 16-team format but were in the running and are one of eight teams added to a special post-season format. Considered long shots, it's Arizona first postseason appearance since 2012.