A quiet Thursday morning in The Valley shifted to excitement in a hurry, as Arizona Coyotes fans woke up to news they have been anxiously awaiting — the club may be inching closer to its temporary home. On top of that, it’s possible the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field is being eyed for a future NHL Stadium Series game.
There’s still the usual rumblings in the desert as well, as defenseman Jakob Chychrun’s name continues to come up, even though general manager Bill Armstrong’s ask for the 23-year-old defenseman is a hefty one. Finally, The Coyotes are set to host their second annual Skatin’ for Leighton event on Sunday at Phoenix Raceway.
Let’s dive in.
New Arizona State Arena May Be Coyotes’ Interim Solution
Thursday started with a bang in Arizona, as NHL and Coyotes insider Craig Morgan reported that the club has had detailed, “advanced” discussions with Arizona State University to use their sparkling new 5,000-seat arena as a temporary home until a permanent arena can be constructed. (From: ‘Coyotes in advanced discussions with ASU to use new multi-purpose venue as interim arena solution,’ gophnx.com, Jan. 27, 2022).
The announcement is a welcome reprieve for Coyotes fans, as the team has been at odds with the City of Glendale for quite some time, and it’s become clear the city and club are ready to move on from each other. The Sun Devils’ new arena, which is set to open in Fall 2022, still presents a number of challenges before any deal can move forward, including an investment in locker room and practice facilities for the club, in addition to scheduling challenges.
Even so, Morgan mentions the short-term investment may go a long way in illustrating to the City of Tempe that its pending proposal for a new entertainment district is the real deal while establishing “a partnership and relationship with the city immediately.”
This logic does fall in line with the team’s — and league’s — commitment to keep the Coyotes in Arizona amid the never-ending rumors of their departure.
Any temporary arena would need to be approved by the NHL and NHLPA, but Morgan reported the league is open to the possibility. It would also need to be approved by the Arizona Board of Regents. Stay tuned on this one, as it’s likely just the beginning of what could be a wild ride, not only in the coming months, but also in the coming years.
Panthers, Other Teams Reportedly Interested in Chychrun
The Jakob Chychrun saga isn’t new to anyone this season, but just how far some of the talks have gone may be catching some pundits by surprise. Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek indicated earlier this week that the Coyotes have already received an offer that fulfills what Armstrong had previously asked for, though from specifically what team(s) is unclear.
Just what is that asking price? It looks to be a young player, a prospect, and a first-round draft pick. It should be noted the Coyotes have three first-round picks, as well as five second rounders, in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.
The Florida Panthers are one of the teams rumored to be in on the Chychrun sweepstakes, and though any offer submitted is unknown, speculation has swirled that the price could be goalie Spencer Knight and center Anton Lundell, in addition to any draft pick compensation.
Other teams that are rumored to have interest include the New York Rangers, Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, and Los Angeles Kings, according to the report.
Chase Field May Become Stadium Series Venue
Just before Thursday’s breaking news about the ASU arena, azcentral’s José Romero reported that the home of Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks, Chase Field, is being considered as a location for an outdoor game in the NHL’s Stadium Series games. (From: Chase Field a possible NHL Stadium Series site, azcentral.com, Jan. 26, 2022). The possibility makes a lot of sense, especially considering the ballpark was actually being considered as the club’s aforementioned temporary home.
Romero’s article quotes NHL chief content officer and senior executive vice president of events and entertainment, Steve Mayer, as saying the location is “on the list” of potential future locations. It also mentions Sun Devil Stadium, home of the ASU football team, as another possible venue.
It’s an exciting development for hockey fans in Arizona, who have gone from the thought of potentially losing the Coyotes to a plethora of future options in seemingly the blink of an eye.
Skatin’ For Leighton to Commence on Sunday
The Coyotes are set to host Skatin’ For Leighton this Sunday at Phoenix Raceway, an all-day festival that celebrates the life of Leighton Accardo, who courageously battled cancer until her untimely passing at the age of nine in November 2020. Fans six years and older can register to skate, walk, or run the racetrack for $49. Friends and family can also pledge money for each lap completed by participants and donors.
Participants will receive a litany of gear, as well as a ticket to the team’s game on Feb. 2 against the Calgary Flames, or Feb. 23 against the Los Angeles Kings.
Coyotes Senior Director of Hockey Development Business Strategy and President of the Arizona Kachinas Hockey Association, Lyndsey Fry, rollerbladed 96 miles on Feb. 21, 2021, in what was the first-ever event. This second go-round, which is now listed as an annual occurrence, is much larger.
All proceeds will benefit the Leighton Accardo Memorial Fund, which provides financial assistance to girls interested in playing hockey in Arizona while continuing to honor the legacy of Accardo herself. Fans can register here.
On Deck for the Coyotes
Arizona returns home after a four-game east coast roadtrip to host the Boston Bruins on Friday night before another home game against the Buffalo Sabres the very next night. The team is looking to break a three-game losing streak in what’s increasingly looking like the final season at Gila River Arena.
A die-hard hockey fan in the desert, and proud Iowa State alum. Detroit Red Wings and Arizona Coyotes contributor for The Hockey Writers.