Coyotes News & Rumors: Arena Trouble, Chief Impact Officer, & More

There’s been no shortage of news this week for the Arizona Coyotes, both on and off the ice, so there’s a lot of ground to cover in this latest edition of Coyotes news and rumors. For starters, the team’s arena proposal with the City of Tempe is apparently in jeopardy, unless a few more city council members are convinced the team’s financial troubles are a thing of the past. In other news, Arizona is making waves after hiring Nadia Rivera as its newly-created Chief Impact Officer, and she will also serve as the Executive Director of Foundation and Community Impact.

Related: Coyotes Corner: Homestand to Conclude With Matthews’ Return

Pressing on, the club is still seeing the impact of COVID-19 within the organization, the team is set to hold its Skatin’ for Leighton event, and its most recent addition of Riley Nash found the scoresheet in his very first game.

Let’s dive in!

Report: Tempe Arena Proposal is in Jeopardy

The Coyotes’ response to the City of Tempe’s request for proposals is no secret, however, a recent report from NHL and team insider Craig Morgan indicates the town itself is not currently on board with the project (From: ‘Coyotes’ Tempe arena proposal on thin ice,’ gophnx.com, Jan. 9, 2022).

Morgan’s article indicates that the Coyotes do not have enough support from the city council to move forward with the project, though it is still very much under review. Part of the sticking point? The team’s recent late payments on its taxes and bills, in which Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps indicated the team would be locked out of Gila River Arena if it didn’t become current on its financial obligations.

The Coyotes quickly responded and paid up, but the article quotes a source with knowledge of the ongoing discussions and indicated, among other things, “Those stories hurt tremendously.”

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Glendale, as well as arena management company ASM, announced yesterday they have hired architectural firm HOK to “reimagine” Gila River Arena, indicating the clear intent to move on from the Coyotes. A home for the team beyond this season has not yet been established.

Gila River Arena
Glendale is clearly moving on from the Arizona Coyotes.

Fans interested in voicing their opinion should note the next city council meeting is Thursday at 5 pm Arizona time, and there’s also an online petition circulating with the hopes of persuading town officials to approve the deal.

Nadia Rivera Named Chief Impact Officer

Outside of the ongoing arena saga, the team’s promise and commitment to hockey in Arizona continually appears to move forward. The Coyotes created a new position, Chief Impact Officer, and announced Monday that Nadia Rivera, founder of the TGen Women’s Philanthropy Council and former Chief Development Officer for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale, was named to the position.

“We are thrilled to have Nadia join our Pack to lead our community impact efforts,” Coyotes President and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez said in a release. “The Arizona Coyotes are committed to being leaders in our community and Nadia’s dedication to building vibrant Arizona communities is distinguishable through her professional and personal endeavors. As a seventeen-year nonprofit professional, Nadia has helped advance bold and impactful organizational missions through the power of philanthropy. She will be an extremely valuable addition to our organization.”

The position will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of community impact, including the Arizona Coyotes Foundation, and will also lead the club’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and drive the team’s community engagement and social responsibility initiatives, according to the release.

Tourigny, Wedgewood Among Those in COVID Protocol

Arizona’s practice on Monday was abruptly cancelled after a number of coaches and players entered the league’s COVID-19 protocol, putting Wednesday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs in question.

Coach André Tourigny, goaltending coach Corey Schwab, and players Jakob Chychrun, Cam Dineen, Anton Strålman and Scott Wedgewood were all placed into COVID protocol, with more testing to be conducted Tuesday morning. In the meantime, the Coyotes recalled defensemen Victor Soderstrom and Vladislav Kolyachonok, as well as goalie Ivan Prosvetov from their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate Tucson Roadrunners to their taxi squad.

The status is changing rapidly, but at the time of this post’s publishing, no new positive tests were present, and the game is expected to take place on Wednesday. Should that happen, it’s entirely possible that assistant coaches Phil Housley or Cory Stillman could take the helm for the game.

Skatin’ For Leighton Set For Jan. 30

Arizona is partnering with Phoenix Children’s Hospital to host Skatin’ for Leighton, an all-day event at the Phoenix Raceway on Jan. 30 designed to raise money for the Leighton Accardo Memorial Fund, which supports young girls who want to play hockey. The event allows people to skate, walk, or run at Phoenix Raceway, and recruit donors for every lap that’s completed around the track.

Lyndsey Fry, the Coyotes’ Director of External Engagement, traveled 96 miles in in-line skates on Feb. 21, 2021, and raised $49,000 in memory of Accardo, who at just nine years old courageously battled Stage 4 cancer before passing away in November 2020. The team continues to honor her legacy. The event also comes on the heels of the untimely passing of the Coyotes’ Senior Director of Hockey Development Matt Shott, who at age 34 passed away this past December after a long battle with liver cancer.

Fans are encouraged to attend and donate — both of which this particular writer will be doing, as well. I hope to see you there.

Riley Nash Records Assist in Coyotes Debut

Arizona claimed veteran forward Riley Nash off waivers from the Tampa Bay Lightning last week, and the 32-year-old had an instant impact after recording an assist in Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Nashville Predators. The former first-round selection (21st overall in 2007) was brought in to help the team with a slew of injuries, impacting forwards Jay Beagle, Ryan Dzingel, and Dmitrij Jaškin.

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The assist was his first point of the season after failing to get on the board in 10 games with the Lightning, as well as 15 games with the Winnipeg Jets.

On Deck For The Coyotes

Arizona is set to host the Maple Leafs on Wednesday — pending additional COVID tests, of course, before facing the Colorado Avalanche in a home-and-home series on Friday and Saturday, respectively. The team then hosts the Montreal Canadiens in a Monday afternoon matinee before hitting the road for four straight games.