Tucson Roadrunners

New Roadrunners Head Coach Mike Van Ryn talks importance of conditioning, leadership, speed and creating a winning culture ahead of the new season

Recently, I had the chance to ask the newly hired Roadrunners head coach, Mike Van Ryn a few questions about his goals, and vision for the leading Roadrunners before the start of the season.

New Roadrunners head coach, Mike Van Ryn running a practice with Coyotes and Roadrunners players during the 2017 NHL preseason.
Source: Tucson Roadrunners

  1. Alright, coach, it’s your first season in Tucson, the second AHL season here. As you probably know the Roadrunners had a hot start last year, a kind of fell short in the latter half of the season. What are you going to do to make sure the Roadrunners focus and play a full, hard 68-game season? 

It starts with our conditioning, but it’s a mindset, its a mentality, it’s creating a winning culture where you come into work every day. And that’s stuff we’ve already started talking about, and are things we want to build on. It’s creating the right culture, coming to work every day, it’s practicing, and encouraging each other in games. You know that’s what allows you to play those 60 to 70 game schedules

2. Every locker room has to have its role-players, has to have its leaders. Who are some guys you have your eye on to really lead this team this season? 

We don’t know everyone we have yet, but you know we’re really going to have to rely on everyone at this point. Goaltending is always a big part of it; we brought in some veterans, you know Hanley and Campbell on defense. We’re going to have a younger back-end [defense] this year than we had last year. So those guys [Hanley and Campbell] are going to have to do a good job. And, you know upfront we have some guys that are capable of putting up numbers and are well capable of doing the job for us.

3. What is the biggest thing you want the young guys on the Roadrunners to take away from their time down here in Tucson when they’re taking the next step and becoming NHL players? 

Well for us, to play in our organization, you have to play with a lot of pace. [Coyotes coach, Rick Tocchet] is all about relentless puck pursuit, forcing the other team into lots of turnovers. So for us [here in Tucson], it’s creating the culture, coming to work, coming to push yourself. You know we’re going to push these kids into being in the condition of their lives. You just have to skate so hard in our system and be relentless in chasing down pucks and guys out on the ice. So for us, if we can get that to happen down here ( in Tucson), that what’s going to allow them to play up there (with the Coyotes).

The Roadrunners season opener is tonight at 7:05 PM against the San Diego Gulls.

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