Arizona Coyotes set for opener, leave captaincy vacant, go with 5 alternates

Friday, 06 October 2017, 06:55:10 AM. The Coyotes are starting the season without a captain, leaving the post vacated by Shane Doan empty and instead forming a leadership group.

During a major summer renovation, the Coyotes added a No.1 center, two top-four defensemen and a new starting goalie.

But they didn’t patch every hole in their lineup

Arizona is starting the season without a captain, leaving the post vacated by Shane Doan empty and instead forming a leadership group.

Defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Niklas Hjalmarsson will be permanent alternate captains, while centers Derek Stepan and Brad Richardson and defenseman Alex Goligoski will share the third position.

“Why not try something new?” Hjalmarsson said. “I know they had an unbelievable captain for an eternity almost. I have a lot of respect for Doaner, and I know I had a lot of battles against him on the ice. He’s probably my least favorite player in the league. I think that says something about his competitiveness. It’s a big responsibility knowing he was the captain here last year to try to be a good leader of the group.”

The process of getting to know players and seeing how they react to games will determine when the Coyotes fill the position, coach Rick Tocchet said, so it could happen a month or four months from now.

MORE: Rick Tocchet set to lead as the guy he's always been

Tocchet will set a rotation for the third alternate and plans to meet with the group once every week or two weeks to talk about the team.

“That doesn’t mean that everything goes through them,” Tocchet said. “A lot of young guys have voices, too, and we need them to lead in their own way. So it’s just a process thing that I like, and I think it’s the best way to go right now.”

An alternate with the Coyotes since 2015, Ekman-Larsson plans to continue leading by example.

“I think it’s great," he said of the leadership team. "I think all of them are great leaders. You don't need a 'C' to be a leader, and I think it's good we have a leadership group so super excited about that." 

Ekman-Larsson will get the chance to lead from the get-go, as he said he will play Thursday’s in the team’s season-opener against the Ducks in Anaheim after suffering a left knee injury in the preseason.

“I'm back, so I'm feeling good," he said. "Excited to be back on the ice. Got scared there for a couple days, but it wasn't anything too serious so I can play through it. It's going to be fun to be back." 

MORE COYOTES: 5 players looking to rebound from adversity

Ekman-Larsson will wear a left knee brace. He’s hopeful he can get rid of it at some point but also may decide to keep wearing it. So far, it’s been a bit awkward to skate with, he said, but, "You have to feel comfortable wearing it because you know it's going to help you out and you get hit again in the same spot or the same thing happens again, it's going to help you. So I've been wearing it for a week now and feel good about it." 

Hjalmarsson was a bit surprised he was named an alternate being new to the organization but as a three-time Stanley Cup champion, he hopes to use what he learned being on successful teams to help the Coyotes.

“It’s a huge honor," he said. "I'm really proud of it. Never thought about being an assistant captain in the NHL when I was a young kid back home growing up. So that's a big responsibility and something that I'm not going to take lightly. I’m not going to change too much about myself. I'm going to try to lead by example, and I think we have a lot of other good leaders here in the group without having a letter on their chest. But I’m really happy about it and a huge honor."

Reach the reporter at sarah.mclellan@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-8276. Follow her at twitter.com/azc_mclellan.

arizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 1 San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones (31) blocks a shot on goal by Arizona Coyotes left wing Anthony Duclair (10) during the first period of a preseason NHL hockey game, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)  Tony Avelar, AParizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 2 Arizona Coyotes left wing Jordan Martinook (48) battles for the puck against San Jose Sharks defenseman Tim Heed (72) during the first period of a preseason NHL hockey game, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)  Tony Avelar, AParizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 3 Arizona Coyotes center Derek Stepan (21) celebrates with teammate Clayton Keller, right, after Stepan scored a goal against the San Jose Sharks during the first period of a preseason NHL hockey game, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)  Tony Avelar, AParizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 4 Arizona Coyotes center Dylan Strome (20) advances the puck past San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic (44) during the first period of a preseason NHL hockey game, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)  Tony Avelar, AParizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 5 Arizona Coyotes center Derek Stepan, right, scores a goal between the legs of Christian Dvorak (18) and San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones (31) during the second period of a preseason NHL hockey game, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)  Tony Avelar, AParizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 6 Arizona Coyotes center Derek Stepan, center, is congratulate by teammates on the bench after scoring a goal against the San Jose Sharks during the second period of a preseason NHL hockey game, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)  Tony Avelar, AParizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 7 San Jose Sharks left wing Mikkel Boedker (89) is checked into the boards by Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jason Demers (55) during the second period of a preseason NHL hockey game, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)  Tony Avelar, AParizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 8 Arizona Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue (35) blocks a shot by San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton (19) during the second period of a preseason NHL hockey game, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)  Tony Avelar, AParizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 9 Arizona Coyotes defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) and San Jose Sharks right wing Kevin Labanc (62) collide into referee Mike Leggo during the second period of a preseason NHL hockey game, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)  Tony Avelar, AParizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 10 Arizona Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue (35) defends the goal against Los Angeles Kings center Jonny Brodzinski (76) and left wing Michael Cammalleri (14) during the second period at Staples Center.  Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 11 Los Angeles Kings center Andy Andreoff (15) moves the puck ahead of Arizona Coyotes center Brad Richardson (15) during the second period at Staples Center.  Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 12 Los Angeles Kings center Andy Andreoff (15) plays for the puck against Arizona Coyotes defenseman Adam Clendening (5) during the second period at Staples Center.  Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 13 Los Angeles Kings center Trevor Lewis (22) moves the puck against Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jason Demers (55) during the second period at Staples Center.  Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 14 Los Angeles Kings left wing Michael Cammalleri (14) scores a goal against Arizona Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue (35) during the second period at Staples Center.  Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 15 Arizona Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue (35) goes for a block during the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game against the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, in Tucson, Ariz.  Ron Medvescek, AParizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 16 Tempers flare between the Arizona Coyotes and the Anaheim Ducks during the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, in Tucson, Ariz.  Ron Medvescek, AParizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 17 Arizona Coyotes left wing Anthony Duclair (10) passes the puck against Anaheim Ducks defenders during the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, in Tucson, Ariz.  Ron Medvescek, AParizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 18 Fans get close-up view of the action as Anaheim Ducks' Rickard Rakell (67) works against an Arizona Coyotes player during the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, in Tucson, Ariz.  Ron Medvescek, AParizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 19 San Jose Sharks' Mikkel Boedker, right, celebrates his second goal of the night with teammate Logan Couture (39) as Arizona Coyotes' Luke Schenn (2) and Brad Richardson (15) pause on the ice during the first period of a preseason NHL hockey game Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz.  Ross D. Franklin, AParizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 20 Arizona Coyotes' Luke Schenn (2) is unable to stop a shot by San Jose Sharks' Mikkel Boedker before getting past goalie Antti Raanta (32) for a goal during the first period of a preseason NHL hockey game Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz.  Ross D. Franklin, AParizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 21 Arizona Coyotes' Clayton Keller (9) celebrates a goal by Derek Stepan (21) as San Jose Sharks' Troy Grosenick (1) reacts to the score and Sharks' Mikkel Boedker (89) skates away during the first period of a preseason NHL hockey game Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz.  Ross D. Franklin, AParizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 22 San Jose Sharks' Timo Meier (28) collides with Arizona Coyotes' Antti Raanta (32) during the first period of a preseason NHL hockey game Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz.  Ross D. Franklin, AParizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 23 San Jose Sharks' Mikkel Boedker, right, sends the puck past Arizona Coyotes' Antti Raanta (32) for a goal as Coyotes' Kevin Connauton (44) looks on during the first period of a preseason NHL hockey game Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz.  Ross D. Franklin, AParizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 24 San Jose Sharks' Troy Grosenick (1) makes a save on a shot as Arizona Coyotes' Max Domi (16) and Sharks' Radim Simek (51) look for the puck rebound as Coyotes' Oliver Ekman-Larsson, second from left, looks on during the second period of a preseason NHL hockey game Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz.  Ross D. Franklin, AParizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 25 Calgary Flames goalie Mike Smith (41) warms up against the Arizona Coyotes in preseason action at Scotiabank Saddledome.  Candice Ward/USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 26 Calgary Flames goalie Mike Smith (41) warms up against the Arizona Coyotes in preseason action at Scotiabank Saddledome.  Candice Ward, Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 27 Calgary Flames defenseman Dougie Hamilton (27) collides with Arizona Coyotes center Nick Cousins (25) in the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome.  Candice Ward/USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 28 Sep 22, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Arizona Coyotes right wing Mario Kempe (29) brings up the puck against the Calgary Flames in the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports  Candice Ward/USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 29 Calgary Flames defenseman TJ Brodie (7) battles for the puck against the Arizona Coyotes in the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome.  Candice Ward/USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 30 Calgary Flames defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon (4) is checked by Arizona Coyotes center Ryan MacInnis (49) in the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome.  Candice Ward/USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 31 Arizona Coyotes left wing Zac Rinaldo (34) and Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano (5) chase after the puck in the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome.  Candice Ward/USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 32 Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13) celebrates his second period goal against Arizona Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue (35) at Scotiabank Saddledome.  Candice Ward/USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 33 Arizona Coyotes left wing Lawson Crouse (67) and Calgary Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic (24) battle for the puck in the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome.  Candice Ward/USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 34 Arizona Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue (35) warms up against the Calgary Flames in preseason action at Scotiabank Saddledome.  Candice Ward/USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 35 Calgary Flames left wing Michael Ferland (79) celebrates his first period goal against the Arizona Coyotes during at Scotiabank Saddledome.  Candice Ward/USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 36 Arizona Coyotes defenseman Dysin Mayo (61) chases after the puck against Calgary Flames right wing Curtis Lazar (20) during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome.  Candice Ward/USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 37 Calgary Flames left wing Tanner Glass (51) collides with Arizona Coyotes defenseman Joel Hanley (39) during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome.  Candice Ward/USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 38 Calgary Flames center Sam Bennett (93) collides with Arizona Coyotes defenseman Andrew Campbell (28) during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome.  Candice Ward/USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 39 Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13) chases after the puck against Arizona Coyotes defenseman Dysin Mayo (61) and defenseman Tyson Strachan (24) in the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome.  Candice Ward/USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 40 Arizona Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue (35) stops a shot from the Calgary Flames in the first period in preseason action at Scotiabank Saddledome.  Candice Ward, Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 41 Calgary Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic (24) warms up against the Arizona Coyotes in preseason action at Scotiabank Saddledome.  Candice Ward/USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 42 Sep 20, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Phoenix Coyotes right wing Emerson Etem (26) and Anaheim Ducks defenseman Korbinian Holzer (5) fight during the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports  Kelvin Kuo, Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 43 Sep 20, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Phoenix Coyotes right wing Christian Fischer (36) moves the puck under pressure by Anaheim Ducks right wing Chris Wagner (21) during the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports  Kelvin Kuo, Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 44 Sep 20, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Phoenix Coyotes right wing Christian Fischer (36) celebrates his goal against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports  Kelvin Kuo, Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 45 Sep 20, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Phoenix Coyotes center Clayton Keller (9) passes the puck to center Max Domi (16) for a goal during the second period against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports  Kelvin Kuo, Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 46 Sep 20, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Phoenix Coyotes center Max Domi (center) celebrates with his team a goal against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports  Kelvin Kuo, Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sportsarizona-coyotes-set-for-opener-leave-captaincy-vacant-go-with-5-alternates photo 47 Sep 20, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Phoenix Coyotes center Clayton Keller (9) celebrates his goal with right wing Emerson Etem (26) and center Lane Pederson (93) against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports  Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sportsarizona-co<p class=

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Article Arizona Coyotes set for opener, leave captaincy vacant, go with 5 alternates compiled by www.azcentral.com