New Wolves coach Rocky Thompson gets most out of time with Vegas

The time new Wolves coach Rocky Thompson spent in Nevada with the Vegas Golden Knights, his team’s parent club, was a neat and historic experience. He saw how a community new to top-level hockey was embracing its team with passion.

But there was much more to the trip than sightseeing. There was a lot of business to be taken care of.

Thompson and assistant coaches Chris Dennis and Bob Nardella ran the Golden Knights’ rookie camp, and many players who were involved could be in the Wolves’ lineup to open the season or sometime down the road. He then spent time at training camp and got more familiar with the likely NHL players, the Vegas front office and coach Gerard Gallant.

And Thompson was excited by the talent he observed with the rookies and the full Golden Knights roster, which could bode well for the Wolves. When the main camp started, he compared the players he thinks will be in the Wolves’ lineup with the full Golden Knights roster and liked what he saw.

Wolves coach Rocky Thompson | Courtesy of the Wolves

“I was pleasantly surprised with the players in general, top to bottom, and how the guys that we kind of viewed as potentially coming to us, how good they looked compared to guys who have been established NHLers,” Thompson said. “That was very encouraging for the Wolves and the Vegas Golden Knights because of the depth it can provide for them.”

In general, it was a valuable experience for Thompson and his staff.

“It was really good for us to be part of that,” Thompson said. “Obviously, we’re going to take a lot of that back with us here to Chicago in building the foundation down here again through the Vegas Golden Knights.”

Part of that is running the same system as Vegas, which Thompson said is something the organization wanted to do. And he has no problem with that because he and Gallant “see the game similarly,” so he won’t have to change much of his philosophy.

“Very aggressive, coming forward, energetic and puck possession,” Thompson said. “That’s how Vegas plays, that’s how they want us to play and that’s how I love to play the game. That’s how it should be played.”

The Wolves open camp Sunday at Triphahn Community Center & Ice Arena in Hoffman Estates. They play two preseason games, hosting Rockford on Sept. 29 at Triphahn before playing Sept. 30 in Milwaukee.

Follow me on Twitter @BrianSandalow.

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