Transcript from Yandle-Maloney Interview
By Alan Bass
BASS 'N YANDLE
How did playing with the Moncton Wildcats in the QMJHL help your development?
I think it was huge for me, [the coach] was great for my teammates and me. He helped me get to the next level. I got into a lot more games than I would have expected and it was like an NHL lifestyle. It really got me prepared.
What was it like spending time in the AHL?
My first pro year, I spent most of it in the AHL in San Antonio. You know, when you’re playing down there, you learn to cherish being up in the NHL more. You work as hard as you can to get back to the NHL and do whatever if takes to get back up there.
What did it mean to win the Emile Bouchard trophy as the best defenseman in the QMJHL?
It was big for me, especially going into a different league in a different country. It was great, just getting my name out there and getting recognized for all the hard work I put in. It helped me out in getting to the next level and making the jump. I think winning the award meant a lot to me.
What do you need to improve on?
I have a lot to improve on, that’s for sure. I try to work on my skating, my shooting, my passing, my defensive play, watching video. You know, stuff like that.
What was it like being coached by Wayne Gretzky?
He was a great coach, he taught us a lot. He helped me out a lot. I have nothing but good things to say about him and what he did for me.
What is it like transitioning to a new coach?
It’s been awesome. We’ve been winning some games, and so it’s great. He’s definitely a great coach. He has a great system. Guys are buying into it, and if we play the way he wants us to play, we’re going to be good and teams are going to recognize us.
What will it take to make the Coyotes’ roster every night?
Hard work, winning one-on-one battles and just playing solid hockey. A bunch of little things, but you have to work hard, both during the games and in practice.
BASS 'N MALONEY
What is it about Keith that you like?
I was well aware of Keith (when I came into the organization), they liked his skating ability, his offensive instincts, his combination of speed and size. I think that’s what really made people like him.
How does changing coaches affect his development?
I thought Keith last season was one of the few players who showed improvement. A lot of guys had sort of off years, but in Keith’s case, he learned how to play better without the puck, defensively. And now, having Dave Tippett in there, the more teaching, the more time spent on his game without the puck – he has God-given natural skill, skating, offensive play – what I saw of Keith was just him maturing into a player you’re not afraid to put out in the last five minutes of a game. He’s become much more competitive and reliable when the game is on the line. He is still evolving into a great defenceman, I think his best years are still ahead of him.
Looking at Keith’s season so far, do you like what you are seeing so far?
Yeah, there’s much more maturity in his game. He’s paired with Sami Lepisto. They bring great skating ability and puck-moving abilities to the game. It’s just a continual process. Keith is still young, in a hockey sense, but he is just now evolving into the player that he is going to be for the next five years.
Many have said he needs to improve his positioning. Do you agree?
I think that is the area that has improved the most in the past two years and continues to evolve. A lot of those offensive-minded players – he was a Canadian Junior defenseman of the year, primarily because he scored 86 points during the season – so I think you want to be able to play him on the ice in those tight games when the games are close. Two years ago, he wouldn’t see the ice in the last six or seven minutes of a tight game, where now, we have much more confidence in him.
What do you expect of Keith moving forward?
We’re confident he is going to evolve into a good player for us who will help us win here. He has a great personality, is well liked in the locker room, and there’s a real upside to that game.