May 29, 2023
Coyotes begin life in cozy new homes: 'Surely it will be different' -

Coyotes begin life in cozy new homes: ‘Surely it will be different’ –

Auston Matthews drove past the Arizona Coyotes’ new home this summer.

The 5,000-seat ice rink on a college campus is a temporary solution — at least for the next three seasons — as the franchise continues to work on a planned long-term arena.

Matthews, who grew up in the Phoenix area, wants the franchise that sparked his hockey obsession — long before the Toronto Maple Leafs sniper scored 60 goals in one season and won the Hart Trophy as an NHL MVP — to find success in the desert Has.

He’s also curious about what that first trip to Mullett Arena will be like.

“I think it’s going to be pretty fun… the atmosphere and everything,” Matthews said. “It’s going to be kind of fun and interesting to be in the NHL and play at an ice rink like this.”

The Coyotes begin life at Arizona State University on Friday when they host the Winnipeg Jets after a six-game road trip to open the schedule.

The team played at Gila River Arena in Glendale beginning in 2003, but crowding problems plagued the Coyotes almost immediately before the suburbs severed ties with the organization at the end of last season.

The Coyotes’ old home was on the west side of the Phoenix metro area, while ASU’s campus and where the club hopes to build is in Tempe — closer to the majority of its fan base.

“Everything is brand new,” said Arizona winger Clayton Keller of Mullett Arena’s cozy setting. “We’ll just go from there. The atmosphere will be cool…there are standing bleachers behind the net that no NHL team has.

“It’s unique and brings a different aspect to it.”

There were inevitable jokes when Arizona’s move to an arena — named after a prominent ASU donor family — that’s a fraction the size of the league’s other 31 venues was announced, but NHL Assistant Commissioner Bill Daly said that this will benefit the franchise both now and in the future.

“A full building every night,” he said. “It could help team and player performance if you have an environment like that.

“It’s not a permanent solution – it could never be a permanent solution – but as a short-term solution it will work well.”

There were moments when it looked like the Coyotes might be leaving Arizona, having originally relocated from Winnipeg in 1996.

However, Daly said if the league commits to a market, “we are committed.”

“The myriad of things that have gone wrong for this franchise over time helps explain why people want it to move,” he said. “None (of the issues) were really under their control and none of them proved that the market wasn’t able to support the team.”

NHL stars have mixed feelings about playing in a 5,000-seat facility.

“It will be different for sure,” said Edmonton captain Connor McDavid. “I’m not really sure what to expect. Definitely hope it works.”

“I don’t know,” added Colorado Center Center Nathan MacKinnon with a smile. “We’ll see, I think.”

Players with ties to US college sports sound the most excited to be back on campus.

“Fired,” Ottawa captain Brady Tkachuk said.

“College barns have one of the best atmospheres in hockey,” said Dallas goaltender Jake Oettinger. “Hopefully they unwrap it and have cheap drinks.”

Columbus defenseman Zach Werenski, another NCAA grad, is looking forward to his team’s only trip. He also wonders what it would be like to play 41 times a season at a rink smaller than most junior or collegiate facilities.

“Life in Arizona probably doesn’t get old,” he said. “But going to that rink every day might.”

Max Domi, who was drafted by the Coyotes and played three seasons in Arizona, said if the organization can fix the arena situation, the desert becomes a destination.

“Game over,” said the Chicago forward. “Everyone will want to play for the Yotes.”

Matthews, who grew up in nearby Scottsdale, wants the franchise to thrive.

“They are the reason I started playing hockey,” he said. “Don’t think I would be here if this team wasn’t in Arizona…I have confidence that everything will work out.

“And you never know when the next kid from Arizona will come along.”


Vancouver had plans to make a push into the Pacific Division to complete 2021-22 after a strong finish under head coach Bruce Boudreau but is the only team in the NHL without a win.

The club set a league record by losing four games in a row after taking the lead by several goals and saw three shirts thrown onto the ice at Rogers Arena after Saturday’s home game – a 1-5 -Loss to Buffalo.

Vancouver (0-5-2) will try to finally get into the Victory Column in Seattle on Thursday.


Ottawa center Shane Pinto was limited to five games in 2021-22 because of a shoulder injury that required surgery.

The 21-year-old is making up for lost time.

Pinto has scored in five straight games to break the rookie franchise mark of four previously shared by Mark Stone, Daniel Alfredsson and Alexei Yashin, who did it twice in 1993-94.

He could become the first NHL freshman to score in six straight competitions since 2014-15 when Ottawa hosted Minnesota on Thursday.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on October 26, 2022.


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Joshua Clipperton’s Weekly NHL Notebook is published every Wednesday.

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