The Burlington, Ontario native suffered a shoulder injury early into Phoenix Coyotes rookie camp and was sidelined for nearly month before being ready to return to action. Even then, he was never full healthy.
“I was in a tough situation last season,” said Szwarz. “The doctors told me that with the type of injury I had that the best thing I could do was to rest, but with the type of sport that I play, it was tough to do.”
Szwarz, a 2009 draft pick of the Coyotes, appeared 58 games for their AHL affiliate, the Portland Pirates, last season where he scored seven goals, 13 assists for 20 points.
The offseason finally gave the 21-year-old time to heal from what proved to be a significant injury.
“The lockout gave me a little more time to receive treatment and get healthy,” Szwarz said. “I really took advantage of that time I had in the summer and this is the best I’ve felt in a long time.”
That’s has the Coyotes very excited about having a healthy Szwarz in the lineup.
“I love everything about Jordan,” said Coyotes’ Asst. GM Brad Treliving. “He’s coming into camp healthy. He’s going to work hard and has all those little details to his game. He’s a character player. He has all the things you want in a teammate.”
“If you look at last season, if (Portland Head Coach Ray Edwards) needed to give a line a spark, (Szwarz) was that spark. He made a line better. He would fix a line because he made game simple and gave a very honest effort.”
Szwarz said that because he’s fit entering this season that he’s also carrying more confidence with him on the ice. That’s key according to Treliving, who has a very defined role for Szwarz.
“He’s got a real clear definition to his game,” said Treliving. “He is a player that is going to be defensively responsible, he’ll bring leadership to the table and he’ll be a hard player to play against. That’s what we need for a team that is this young.”
The Pirates made their first cuts of the training camp on Wednesday by re-assigning goalie Louis Domingue and defenseman Justin Weller to the Pirates’ ECHL affiliate, the Gwinnett (GA.) Gladiators.
Domingue, a fifth round pick (#138 overall) of the Coyotes in 2010, was one of four goaltenders in training camp with the Pirates. The Mont St-Hilaire, QC native played junior hockey last season with the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League where he complied a 23-8-4 record with a 2.61 GAA and a .914 save percentage under Quebec head coach NHL Hall of Famer Patrick Roy.
Weller, like Domingue, is entering his first pro training camp after signing with the Coyotes over the summer. Weller played last season for the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League where he led the team in plus/minus with a plus-17 rating, scoring eight points in 39 games.
The Pirates held their third intra-squad scrimmage on Wednesday at Portland Ice Arena and it was Team Black with a convincing win, 5-0, over Team White as rookie Brendan Shinnimin, played a role in all five goals for Team Black with two goals and three assists. Goalies Chad Johnson and Mike Lee combined for the shutout effort.
Portland will play its first exhibition game on Thursday against the University of New Brunswick at Portland Ice Arena. UNB has several former members of the defunct Lewiston Maineiacs franchise that played at the Lewiston Colisee from 2003-2011, including Cameron Critchlow, Chad Denny, Travis Fullerton and Antoine Houde-Caron. Game time is at 12:30pm.