Following the closing of Monday's purchase, new Coyotes Majority Owner, Chairman, and Governor Alex Meruelo held an introductory press conference Thursday afternoon at Gila River Arena, providing a promising glimpse into the future of the organization.
With President and CEO Ahron Cohen and General Manager and President of Hockey Operations John Chayka by his side, Meruelo spoke eloquently to a room heavy with family members and friends, many of whom he referenced when speaking of the overwhelming support he's received during his path to owning a National Hockey League franchise.
"A story to a new beginning for the Arizona Coyotes, for myself, my family, and all of my friends," he said, kicking off his opening statement. "This is a big dream, a big dream, one that you never know if you can achieve. As a kid in Brooklyn, New York, probably 6-7 years old, I dreamt of owning a sports team even knowing how difficult the dream was, truly impossible in many cases, but I never stopped. Here today, I'm the proud owner of the Arizona Coyotes and the first Hispanic owner, which makes it even more special."
Commitment: a characteristic that is both spectacularly accurate when describing the drive that has led Meruelo to his numerous successful business ventures and his stance on the franchise in the Valley.
It's not only about sustaining and building a strong franchise, but about bringing a winning product to Arizona.
"My goal here with the rest of the team, the executives, the players, the coaches: I will not stop, I will not stop until we bring a Stanley Cup to the Valley. That is my goal, my commitment, and hopefully my promise to keep."
Video: Alex Meruelo Introductory Press Conference
Perseverance is critical to having success, and Meruelo's background, his story, is what stood out to Cohen when he first met the 55-year-old prominent business proprietor.
"His incredibly impressive background, it's the true American success story," Cohen said candidly. "The son of Cuban immigrants, he worked hard and became a billionaire, it's what everyone dreams of in this country. When I met him, I was even more impressed because of his drive, his determination, his conviction and his passion, his commitment to his family, and I knew we had our guy. We had our guy that was going to create a new day for this franchise, we had our guy that was going to move us forward, and we had our guy that was ultimately going to help us achieve long-term success here in Arizona."
To have great influence often means having a bold approach, one that Chayka has had during his three-plus years with the Coyotes' on-ice product, building a roster through articulated financial management and player analytics.
"Alex is different, he's unique," Chayka said with enthusiasm. "I think it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with him, he's an elite business mind. I've been extremely impressed, not only with his business acumen, but how he goes about his business, and for us here I think it allows us to take this thing to the next level. He's made it very clear that he's not interested in second, he's not interested in fifth, that's not success to him, he's got one goal in mind, and from the hockey side as a manager, the coaches and the players, that's their goal as well, it's exciting."
Experience breeds confidence, and in successfully owning casinos, construction enterprises, restaurants, media conglomerates, and real estate, he's transitioning into his new investment with plenty of it.
"Hockey is a sport, but it's also a business, right? I've had a lot of experience growing businesses and turning them around, for 40 years I've been doing this and I've had a lot of success," Meruelo said. "I have good people that I work with, my family, and that's what makes me who I am today. I believe in picking the right team, Arizona, the right people, Ahron, John, and the rest of the group, and together I believe we can make this a viable business and one that Arizona will be very proud of."
As a family man, Meruelo knows that the foundation for any strong, stable venture is the relationships built, and notably so with the Coyotes' fanbase.
"I believe that I have to earn their trust and loyalty, that's on me. If I do that, I know they'll respond, and they'll respond by coming out and watching the games and supporting us.
And he also knows the x-factor.
"We're Coyotes nation and we all want to win, and I sure as sh*t want to win."
*Lead photo courtesy: Norm Hall