NEWS & STATS
Summer 'Runners: Head Coach Jay Varady
Photo by Kate Dibildox
Hockey will be back soon, Tucson. Until then, catch up with your favorite coaches and players in “Summer ‘Runners”
2018-19: Record of 34-26-5-3 in his first year in Tucson
This Summer In: Everett, Washington
Q: Things are about to get rolling here in a matter of days with Rookie Camp and then the Rookie Tournament in Anaheim. How much differently do things feel this year for you?
This was the first year I was able to take part in Development Camp, obviously last year I had come in after that. This year we were able to go to the NHL Draft as a [Tucson] staff, do some planning with our development team and do some planning for the development camp.
Development camp is our first look at our new draft picks and [The Rookie Camp and Tournament] is kind of stage two. In my first season I had missed that part, so I was jumping in, learning the draft picks on the fly, as well as all the players in the organization. But now this season, coming in, I know all of the guys that were here in Tucson, I’ve been able to development relationships with our draft picks and just take that next step.
Development camp is a time where it’s really busy for a lot of these draft picks. A lot of guys are also at different phases; some are first-year guys, second-year guys, third-year guys, etc. I think that’s kind of the same with the upcoming rookie camp. Some guys are going to be in their first, or second or third year. But it really is about taking that work that we’ve done this summer and now taking it to the next level, taking that next step and making sure we’re playing as an organization. We’ve got to use our mindset and our identity as we’re playing those games.
Q: It’s only been two months since that development camp. How much can really change?
A lot can change in a summer. There’s been lots of conversations with all players in all different stages of their development. Now is the time where we start evaluating. What steps were made? How many gains were made in the summer? What were the changes in everyone’s physical makeup? This is a really exciting time.
Q: Looking to the fall, there are a fair amount of players from last year’s roster that could be here once again. What are your thoughts on what your lineup could look like?
I’m excited. Last year I was coming in, new, really just trying to learn about the guys on the fly, learn their strengths and their weaknesses, learn about them as players. This year, as a staff, we not only have a really good understanding of who is coming back but also the players that could potentially wind up here at some point during the process and we’re excited about that group.
Q: We’ve heard often this summer that the goal for the 2019-20 Arizona Coyotes is to make the playoffs. What’s been the communication to you for your club this season?
The message is always the same. We want to win here. Winning is a part of development. As an athlete, you have to come in, be ready to compete and to win. For us, we want to make the playoffs. That’s our goal.
In addition to that, we also have to focus on developing the individual as a person. I think that’s just a process that we take a lot of pride in. We do it, but we do it within the team plan. Our goals are to make the playoffs and develop our individuals to make sure they’re ready if the situation calls. Like last year, we had a lot of guys go up and we need to make sure they’re ready to play Coyotes hockey.
Q: On a personal level, for you, what’re you looking for to most in your second season?
Day-to-day approach. There’s a phrase we’ve been using a lot, “everything matters”. When you go through the experience that we had last year, missing the playoffs by one point, you need to make sure everybody is being the best possible version of themselves every single day. Our coaching staff, our trainers, our equipment staff, our players, everybody. We need everybody being the absolute best they can be from the first day of camp, because everything matters.
The fourth season of Roadrunners hockey in Southern Arizona gets underway Friday, October 18 as the club hosts the San Antonio Rampage, AHL affiliate of the Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues at Tucson Arena. Ticket packages including opening night are on sale now under the Tickets tab atop your screen or by calling 866-774-6253.