Fitness was the focus of Coyotes’ Caravan as hockey headlined each of Tuesday’s tour stops.
The bulk of the day was spent at Palm Valley Elementary School in Goodyear, where players, announcers and the top dog of NHL mascots came together to share the sport they love with the school’s students. Team staff members introduced the basics of the game to students, reviewing hockey terminology and running through a number of stick-handling drills. Lending an assist to the learning process were Howler, radio announcers Bob Heethuis and Tyson Nash, defenseman Kurt Sauer and forward Daniel Winnik, as each representative imparted their own insight to the kids.
The Coyotes also made sure that the students could continue to practice their skills by donating all of the street hockey equipment the Caravan carried to Palm Valley. The gift came courtesy of Street Coyotes – an NHL sponsored program which allows thousands of kids to learn the basic rules and fundamentals of hockey at no cost in a safe and structured environment.
Though the game was new to some of the students, fitness was anything but new to the school, which received the Coyotes’ Caravan visit for its participation in the American Heart Association Jump Rope for Heart campaign, which promotes the value of physical activity to elementary school children.
The daytime stage of the Caravan may have belonged to some of the Coyotes’ youngest fans, but it was the team’s youngest players who were the evening’s headlining act. Fans flocked to Jobing.com Arena as the Coyotes rookies played against first-year players from the Los Angeles Kings. The free event showcased the Coyotes’ up-and-coming talent.
Two members of Phoenix’s present – forward Peter Mueller and defenseman Keith Yandle
– were on hand, signing autographs for fans prior to the game on the main concourse. Though it wasn’t long ago that Mueller and Yandle were considered rookies themselves, fans such as Larry Nelson of Avondale always knew these “veterans” had something special.
“I’m a big Peter Mueller fan,” said Nelson, who came to meet Mueller and Yandle with his grandson. “I knew it from the day I saw Peter, I thought he was going to be a long-time star with the Coyotes. That’s why I chose him as the jersey that I wear.”
And if this prognosticating fan is correct, expect big things this season and beyond from No. 91.
“I saw Kyle (Turris) a bit last season and he looks to be a real go-getter,” Nelson added. “But there are also a few others that are right there at his footsteps. I think the future looks bright for the Coyotes.”
Coyotes’ Caravan carries on Wednesday with an appearance by defenseman Ed Jovanovski and forward Olli Jokinen at Alltel Ice Den in Scottsdale. Come join the Caravan as this star duo will be signing autographs from 6 – 8 p.m.