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Arizona Coyotes |  “The NHL is not a development league,” insists Andre Tourigny.

Arizona Coyotes | “The NHL is not a development league,” insists Andre Tourigny.

(Tempe, Ariz.) Thursday night’s game between the Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes was the first between Juraj Slavkovski and Logan Coley since they were selected first and third, respectively, in the 2022 draft.

The on-ice duel, at this stage of their careers, as their clubs rebuild, is just a story. However, it is difficult to ignore the difference between the two realities.

After spending a year in college, Cooley arrived at Arizona with high expectations. He quickly proved that he was able to impose himself offensively at this level. Proof of this is that he obtained seven points in nine matches before facing CH.

Photo by Gary A. Vasquez, USA Today Sports Archive

Logan Cooley (right) celebrates with teammate Sean Durzi (50) after scoring a goal.

As we know, Slavkowski jumped straight to the NHL, with mixed results, at least statistically: 11 points in 48 games overall, and a meager assist this season, heading into Thursday’s game.

Two hours before the start of the game, Coyotes head coach Andre Tourigny spoke at length about player development. Without considering Slavkovsky’s specific case, let us mention it.

“The NHL is not a development league. You play in the NHL because you are able to help your club win. It is a performance league. It is a professional league. It pays people to come see the players. »

There are development leagues. I’ve coached in those leagues, and they’re very good. This is where you can do some trial and error.

Andre Tourigny

Clearly fired, Turrini asserted that “you’ll see it right away” whether or not a player is ready to make the jump, for good, to the highest level.

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“When you are not able to do something that is usually your turn without feeling stressed, it is because you are not there yet. I often give the same example: Even if you are the best student, you cannot enter medicine at 12 years old. There’s a dimension. You can’t go to college and start your first year more than seven times and tell yourself that at some point you’ll get it. That’s not how it works. You’ll keep improving, one year at a time, and when you’ve mastered your subject, one day, you’ll be a doctor »

“It’s the same with the NHL,” the coach added. if [un joueur] He feels nervous when making plays, that he has no confidence in the puck game, that he has trouble sleeping at night because he doesn’t have confidence in himself… The world might say: ‘It doesn’t matter, he’s young, he has to live with himself every day.’ “He’s not performing. He’s sitting next to a guy in the room who knows he’s in trouble. This is not a situation to grow in.”

Cooley case

Andre Tourigny cited the example of Logan Cooley. From the start of training camp, it was clear, he said, that the young man was NHL-caliber.

He believes the year the American center at the University of Minnesota spent in the NCAA was providential. “He gained confidence and understood beautiful things,” Al-Kibi explained.

Furthermore, the Coyotes are a better team than last year. Therefore, Kohli “comes into a good position.”

Tourigny liked that his striker played “two championship games”. One in the NCAA Championship final at the end of the season and the other in the World Junior Championship final. “Win or lose, it’s an extraordinary experience.”

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Already, for several weeks, he has seen improvement on several levels: “managing things.” Game “His patience, his position on the ice…

Since the campaign is still in a very early stage, it should not be surprising that its production and performance have declined. The college season consists of about forty games, half the professional schedule.

But Cooley isn’t perfect. “Now he has to find consistency. But we see that he is smart, and that he is at the right level. At first, I was careful about who I competed with. Now I don’t care about it anymore.”

So we can develop an NHL player? Then a reporter asked him.

“No, he was already at that level,” Tourigny said. You can get better in the NHL, I’m not saying otherwise. But there was never any question whether he could play in the NHL. »