PORTLAND – New Portland Pirates head coach Ray Edwards and his staff have started to settle into the team’s facilities at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
“All of our stuff from San Antonio got here last week, but John Krouse, our equipment guy, was the only one who was really here,” said Edwards, entering his second full season as an AHL head coach. “Really, this week we’re trying to get organized.”
The Pirates became the new affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes in June after the Buffalo Sabres decided to move their minor league operations back to Rochester, N.Y., after three seasons in Portland.
For the previous four seasons, the Coyotes were affiliated with the San Antonio Rampage.
Edwards said one of the areas he has focused on this week has been the scheduling of developmental activities during the Pirates’ practices.
“We’re excited about being able to have a lot of practice time,” he said. “That’s a big reason why we came here. What we’re planning now is to schedule some practice time and how we’re going to work this development angle.”
When the team was located in San Antonio, it shared its practice facility with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs.
“Before, it was hard to schedule (developmental work) because we never were home, and when we were home it was hard because we only had one sheet of ice and, with the Spurs playing, it was tough to schedule anything,” Edwards said. “Now, we’ve put together a (practice) schedule and all our (developmental) guys can look at it and tell us when they’re coming in.”
Edwards said Mike Booi, the Pirates’ new trainer, arrived earlier this week, as did John Slaney, a veteran AHL defenseman who was hired as one of Edward’s assistant coaches earlier this month. Mike Minard, who was hired as goalie and video coach earlier this week, is expected to arrive early next week, Edwards said.
“We’ll all have a couple of days together before we head to Phoenix,” he said.
Early next month, Portland’s entire hockey operations staff will set up shop in Arizona for more than two weeks.
The Coyotes’ rookie camp will open Sept. 9. On Sept. 14-15, the squad will play games against the Los Angeles Kings’ top prospects at that team’s training facility in El Segundo, Calif.
“All of our young guys, all of our draft picks, will be at that camp,” Edwards said. “Usually it’s your college, your junior guys, and maybe guys who have played a year of pro hockey.”
Edward said he expects as many eight players at that camp will end up playing for the Pirates this season.
“It’s good for the coaches who haven’t seen these kids yet to spend seven to eight days with them to get to know them,” he said.
A number of the players from the rookie camp will report Sept. 16 for Phoenix’s main training camp. The following day, the Coyotes will take to the ice at training camp.
Edwards expects his staff will return to Maine by Sept. 23. The Pirates’ training camp will open Sept. 25.
Portland opens the regular season Oct. 8 on the road against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
The Pirates are scheduled to play their first home game Oct. 15 at the Civic Center against the Manchester Monarchs.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: