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The Coyotes’ first game in their new arena was played in front of a small group of friends and family before a crowd of about 12,000.
Coyotes President and Managing Partner Anthony LeBlanc and his team decided to break attendance records, not with a record attendance, not with a record sellout, not with a record television audience, but with a record-setting crowd for a hockey game in any arena in the world.
They could have waited until the entire arena was packed, sold all tickets and announced they would donate the first 10,000 fans’ entire sales to an organization that helps children. But they didn’t.
“We wanted to do something memorable for fans that wasn’t going to be for just the game, but something we hoped they’d remember for the rest of the year,” LeBlanc said. “We wanted this to be bigger than anything the Coyotes have done.”
On Monday afternoon, the Coyotes and Ice District put on quite the production.
“It was something special,” LeBlanc said. “I’ve been at the same arena with the Coyotes nine times, but never, I’d think, has (this) been a great, cool, new building, a great team, with great entertainment and everything on top of being a great arena. To have them do that was something special.”
There was something special about the Coyotes’ season opener just as it was about being a cool new building or a cool new franchise and its own version of the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Boston Celtics or Chicago Cubs.
What was special about this opening weekend and this game played in front of 12,000 fans was something else: a hockey game that was played in front of a smaller crowd.
Just about the only hockey players to come out on the ice were the players.
There were 12 players. Three were from the Coyotes’ organization, including LeBlanc, who stood on the blue-carpeted center ice holding a commemorative puck. Two were teammates, and two were from the Chicago Blackhawk organization, with two of the players having played with the Coyotes in