The Arizona Coyotes open their season at home on Jan. 14 against the San Jose Sharks. There will be fans in the building for the opener, just not as many as usual. The organization will allow a maximum of 3,450 fans at home games at Gila River Arena due to COVID-19 restrictions. Although there will be fewer people in the seats, those in attendance will be in for some special treats this year.
The Coyotes are celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2021 with several commemorations. The wildly popular Kachina logo will be a big part of things. Two special patches will be featured during the year, including a Kachina patch that will be worn on the upper right chest of the Arizona black Kachina jerseys all season long. The patch is designed with the No. 25, the iconic logo, and Kachina stripes.
The other special patch will adorn the upper right chest of Arizona’s red and white jerseys throughout the 2020-21 campaign. This patch also has a No. 25, but includes the Coyote head logo and the state flag of Arizona.
The club relocated to the desert in 1996 as the Phoenix Coyotes. They played their first home game on Oct. 10 of that year against the Sharks, the same opponent they will face on opening night this week.
Coyotes Ready to Check COVID-19
As far as the limited number of fans, the Coyotes are being more welcoming than their professional franchise counterparts. The NFL’s Arizona Cardinals did not allow any fans at their last three home games, while the NBA’s Phoenix Suns have not allowed any fans at all so far this season.
All of this is subject to change. In a statement, the Coyotes say they will work with Gila River Arena and the City of Glendale to determine seating capacity each month. Coyotes season ticket holders get first crack at seats. Even for those lucky enough to get tickets, things will be quite different in the arena. The Coyotes have set up socially distanced seating pods. However, season ticket holders are guaranteed their usual seats.
Along with the pods, a slew of other safety measures will be put in place. Full digital ticketing, cashless transactions, and pre-paid parking will all be enforced. In addition, Gila River Arena will provide sanitizer stations, extra food prep protocols, and a no bag policy. All fans and employees must wear a mask when not eating or drinking.
Arizona Called For Icing, in a Good Way
When the Coyotes finally return to action, they’ll be skating on a rink that includes a crescent moon at center ice. This is another part of the team’s 25th anniversary celebration.
The crescent moon was a big part of the team’s early history. The purple crescent was the center ice logo at America West Arena back in 1996. The very popular design is now back, accompanied by a ribbon of Kachina logos on the red line.
Not only will the Arizona ice look good, it should play better, too. The franchise is making significant investments to ensure the ice at Gila River Arena is among the best in the league. The Coyotes brought in two new Zamboni machines and they have made major upgrades to building insulation. Arizona is making a concerted effort to win on and off the ice. NHL officials are overseeing the final stages of the ice installation.
Back in Black (And Kachina)
When the club moved to Glendale in 2003, they made changes to their uniforms, logo, and colors. After much demand from fans, Arizona brought back their original black jerseys in 2018. The Coyotes will don the Kachina jerseys 25 times to commemorate being around for a quarter century.
“We are incredibly proud to celebrate 25 years in the Valley of the Sun,” Coyotes owner Alex Merulo said in a statement. “We are thrilled to honor our past this season and pay tribute to those players who provided our tremendous fans with so many great memories.”
In addition to looking good, the Coyotes want to play well. Arizona made the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons last year. The organization is hoping for the winning ways to continue while skating in a vastly improved facility. When the puck drops against the Sharks, not only will the Coyotes and their fans be officially celebrating their silver anniversary, they’ll also be embarking on a hockey sprint. Arizona will play 56 games in just 115 days. Challenging? For sure. But, fans are happy. Their desert dogs are back and ready to party.
Kevin is an accomplished writer, broadcaster, and radio/TV host. He serves as the play-by-play and/or public address announcer for several college and professional teams. He is also a professional wrestling and boxing ring announcer. Kevin has interviewed several U.S. Presidents, multiple hall of fame athletes, and countless others. Kevin is also a three-sport varsity high school coach and a specialist for youth sports camps. Both of his children play hockey. Kevin loves dogs and Pepsi. He is a strong advocate for the return of the Quebec Nordiques to the NHL. Kevin is a fan of the Chicago Blackhawks and all things hockey. He covers the Arizona Coyotes for The Hockey Writers.