Most National Hockey League players are counting down the days until they can begin another season. Kyle Chipchura, a 28-year-old Métis from Westlock, is no different. But he also has a couple of other reasons why he’s eager to start the 2014-15 campaign.
Chipchura, who is heading into his ninth season of pro hockey, is a member of the Arizona (formerly Phoenix) Coyotes.
In terms of points, he is coming off his most successful NHL season. A year ago he appeared in 80 games with the Coyotes and had 20 points (five goals, 15 assists). He surpassed his previous high of 16 points, which he had collected three years earlier.
Chipchura, who has bounced between the minors and the NHL most of his pro career, is hoping he can be even more of a productive player this coming season.
“I hope I can start off strong and play a bigger role with the team and play a few more minutes,” he said.
The Coyotes kick off their 2014-15 regular season on Oct. 9 with a home game against the Winnipeg Jets. The franchise plays its home games at the recently renamed Gila River Arena.
The Gila River Indian Community made history with the renaming of the Coyotes’ rink. It became the first federally recognized tribe to have naming rights on an arena or stadium in the NHL, National Football League, National Basketball Association or Major League Baseball.
Chipchura, who got married during the off-season in St. Catharines, ON, is also hoping he can help the Coyotes earn a post-season berth this year. The squad missed the playoffs the past two years.
“We had a tough slide at the end of last year,” Chipchura said.
The Coyotes post-season hopes were dashed after they managed to win only three of their final 10 games.
Securing a playoff spot will be the team’s main priority this season.
“I think we have a good group of guys here,” Chipchura said. “We can be a hard team to play against. And if we can get into the playoffs anything can happen from there.”
Chipchura has only played in the NHL post-season once, with the Coyotes during the 2011-12 season.
Chipchura enters the season having appeared in 357 NHL games. He’s earned 82 points, including 24 goals.
Besides the Coyotes, Chipchura has also suited up for the Montreal Canadiens and Anaheim Ducks.
During his pro days he’s also toiled in a pair of other leagues. He has spent time in the American Hockey League with the Hamilton Bulldogs and Portland Pirates and in the Central Hockey League with the Arizona Sundogs.
Chipchura had played his junior hockey with the Saskatchewan-based Prince Albert Raiders in the Western Hockey League. He spent four seasons, 2002 through 2006, with the Raiders.
Following his sophomore season in Prince Albert, Chipchura was selected in the first round, 18th over-all, by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.