Coyotes’ town hall meeting answers fans’ pressing questions

The Arizona Coyotes brass gathered in Scottsdale to assuage fans’ concerns about the team on and off the ice


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Arizona Coyotes general manager Don Maloney answers a question during the Ice Den town hall meeting on July 7. Directly to his left is Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, and to his right are team president Anthony LeBlanc and play-by-play announcer Matt McConnell.

Jeremy Beren, Editor-in-Chief

The Arizona Coyotes’ future is shrouded in uncertainty, but president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc seemed anything but uncertain when asked whether relocation was a possibility.

“We have no intention of moving this franchise out of state,” he said. “Our home is Gila River Arena.”

LeBlanc was asked that question and many more at a team-organized town hall meeting Tuesday night. The 90-minute meeting took place at the Ice Den, the Coyotes’ practice facility in Scottsdale. On Monday, the team’s prospect development camp got underway at the Ice Den, and some of the participants were hot topics on Tuesday.

“This is the first time in my six or seven years here that we have two or three kids,” head coach Dave Tippett said.

What Tippett means is the Coyotes have managed to stockpile young talent that can carry the team back into hockey’s upper echelon. The Coyotes were one of the worst teams in the NHL last season, managing only 24 wins in 82 games. When it became clear that last year’s team was fading, general manager Don Maloney leaped into action. On March 1, Maloney traded All-Star defenseman Keith Yandle to the New York Rangers for a package highlighted by young forward Anthony Duclair.

The plan is for Duclair to combine with first-round draft choices Max Domi and Dylan Strome to form the nucleus of the new-look Coyotes.

“When it started to go south last year, we had to reboot this thing,” Maloney said. “You look at any Stanley Cup champion the past 10 years, they’ve started at the bottom. The exception is the Detroit Red Wings.”

While last season was rock bottom for the Coyotes on the ice, the franchise’s very existence teeters in the balance off it. The Coyotes have suffered major financial losses ever since the move from Phoenix to Glendale in 2003 and filed for bankruptcy six years ago. On June 10, the city of Glendale elected to terminate the lease agreement it had with the team.  The state of relations with the city of Glendale remains very tense; the Coyotes have already filed a temporary injunction to prevent the city from seizing Gila River Arena and depositions are next on the agenda.

“Emotions on both sides have calmed down, which is a good thing,” LeBlanc said.

Emotion from the fans was plentiful during Tuesday night’s event. One man said that he made the one hour-plus trek from Gold Canyon to Glendale before he terminated his season ticket package last year. Another man announced that he routinely makes the drive from Tucson for Coyotes games, and he would travel as far as he could to see the team. However, not every fan is there through thick and thin. Many need incentives to fill the seats, such as some exciting young talent.

“I can tell you, from being on the ice today, it gives all of us hope that we’re going in the right direction,” Tippett said.

It is true that success begets revenue. It is also true that the Coyotes need time to return to their winning ways. However, the men who keep the Coyotes afloat on and off the ice insist it will happen, and it will happen in Arizona.