A day after associate coach Barry Smith revealed he is leaving the Coyotes for a job in Russia, coach Wayne Gretzky said there will be no other turnover on his staff.
“They’ll be back,” he said Tuesday when asked about the status of associate coach Ulf Samuelsson and goaltending coach Grant Fuhr.
“Grant does a great job,” Gretzky said. “I know the goaltenders love him. . . . Ulfy is really good with our young defense. . . . The players respect Ulfy a lot.”
As for replacing Smith, Gretzky said the only name he has in mind right now is that of former associate coach Rick Tocchet.
“I’m going to wait” until Tocchet’s situation is resolved, Gretzky said. “That would be my choice. I know the players would like it.”
Tocchet is on an indefinite leave of absence and his future in the league is uncertain due to a gambling investigation by New Jersey authorities.
As for who would be on his list if Tocchet weren’t available, Gretzky said, “I haven’t even thought of that.”
DROPPING IN THE DRAFT
Luck was not on the Coyotes’ side during Tuesday morning’s draft lottery.
Phoenix, which finished with the league’s second fewest points, dropped to the third overall pick after Chicago won the lottery. The Blackhawks moved up from fifth to first and will be followed by Philadelphia. Still, the pick is the team’s highest since moving to Arizona in 1996.
Gretzky said he wasn’t too disappointed with the outcome considering there is no consensus No. 1 player.
“It’s not like Sidney Crosby was going No. 1 this year,” he said. “The first four or five kids are all pretty good players. We’ll see what falls in our lap.”
The Coyotes have two first-round picks and three selections in the top 32.
It took all season, but center Mike Ricci said his right arm finally is starting to regain its strength following last summer’s neck surgery.
“I feel pretty good,” said Ricci, who said he could play now if there were any games on the schedule. “It’s the best I’ve felt all year.”
Ricci, an unrestricted free agent who appeared in only seven games this season, said he hopes to hook on somewhere for next season but acknowledged that retirement is also a possibility.
“It might be a good time for me to ride off into the sunset,” he said.
In two seasons in Phoenix, Ricci compiled 10 goals and 17 points in 85 games.
Center Niko Kapanen has been picked to represent Finland at the World Championships, April 27-May 15 in Moscow. … Center Jeff Taffe’s summer vacation will begin on crutches after what was thought to be a bruised foot turned into a broken fibula. Taffe, who is in a walking boot, said he has been told it will take six to eight weeks for his injury to heal. . . . Defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who missed the final 22 games of the season due to abdominal surgery, said he is close to 100 percent.