Phantoms: New Home, New Hope – An Interview With Riley Cote

Photo courtesy of Yahoo! Sports

Riley Cote spent six seasons as an enforcer with the Flyers organization. He won the Calder Cup with the Phantoms at the end of the ’04-’05 season, the team’s Man of the Year award in ’06-’07, and the Flyer’s Pelle Lindbergh Memorial trophy in ’07-’08. Cote retired in August of 2010 and was named an assistant coach of the Adirondack Phantoms. He took the time to answer a few questions regarding the team’s final season in Glens Falls.

The team is now in its final season in Adirondack. Do you get the sense that the players are ready for the move to a more permanent home in Allentown?

I think there is a lot of talk about the Allentown move, but since there is a lot of uncertainty in pro sports and rollover each year, the players must focus on the here and now and have a winning season, and everything else usually falls into place.

Do you feel like the end of this season will have more of a somber feel, or will everyone be anxious and excited for the move?

Again, the main focus for us as a team is to win, whether it be in Glens Falls or Allentown. We need to have a great season, make the playoffs, and fight for a championship. I don’t think too many guys are even thinking about Allentown right now, they are taking care of the here and now.

Looking back at last season, what are some of the adjustments the team needs to make in order to find success this season?

There are always small adjustments made, but sticking to your game plan and trying to execute it consistently is what we try and drill into our players. We have more experience this year, so hopefully it will work into our favor.

Were you surprised by any of the moves the Flyers made prior to the start of this season, as far as sending certain players down to the Phantoms?

No, I wasn’t surprised with the moves the Flyers made. It followed suit as to the depth of the organization. But in saying that, things can change very quickly.

Are there any specific players we should be keeping an eye on this season?

We have some good young players down here, and actually two of them just got recalled. Tye McGinn and Michael Raffl. But there are others that have shown some promise, such as Nick Cousins, Marcel Noebels, and Mark Alt, to name a few.

This is your fourth season as Assistant Coach for the Phantoms. Have you noticed any changes as far as growth or performance for the team overall in that timeframe?

Yes, I have definitely seen some growth. I wish it was a bit more obvious in the standings, but we have had real young teams here and to watch some guys grow into pros has been very nice to see.

It’s no secret that the team has struggled during their time in Adirondack. Personally, what do you attribute those struggles to?

I think there are a lot of variables to look at with the lack of success over the last few years. Inexperience would be up there, no doubt, and just staying healthy. Injuries on both teams deplete our success, and that;s not an excuse since all teams deal with it, but it sure seems like we have had big pieces of the puzzle sit on the sidelines.

The move from Philadelphia to Glens Falls had to be a huge adjustment and culture change, going from the first-class facilities at the Spectrum to the facilities at the Glens Falls Civic Center. What was that adjustment like for the players and coaches?

Well, there were many players who came from different organizations, so there is always change and some adjustments. That’s just part of the business and life, I guess. You just have to make the best with what you got. No excuses.

Do you feel like the community of Glens Falls has embraced and supported the team throughout the duration of their temporary stay?

I think the community has done a good job of embracing the team. I do understand they have longtime ties with the Adirondack Red Wings and Detroit, so there might be a disconnect with the Flyers, but they love hockey and support it. And, as always, winning would help the cause even more.

From a coaching standpoint, what do you believe is more important — to have a winning AHL team, or to just have a team that continuously develops players?

I think both are important. Clearly we are in a developmental league, so we need to develop players. At the same time, sports is about winning and we need to teach these guys how to win and become a pro.

Do you believe the Phantoms currently have the pieces in place to have a successful season and close out their time in Glens Falls on a positive note?

I think the team we have this year is the best we have had since I’ve been around. We have certainly upgraded a few areas of our game. I truly believe we are a playoff team, so we must continue to work on our team game and do our best to stay healthy.