An unfortunate incident over the weekend led the Coyotes to act quickly in an effort to resolve an issue that threatened the start of the season for many registered players in the Arizona Bobcats' Youth Hockey Program.
A trailer containing gear was stolen from the parking lot of Ice Den Chandler early Sunday morning, leaving the program without vital equipment needed at a critical time. Many of the teams' 2019-20 seasons are slated to begin this week.
Following an overwhelming response on social media, one rooted by a post published to the Ice Den Chandler's Facebook page, word quickly spread to reach Coyotes players and staff, namely Lawson Crouse , captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson , and President and CEO Ahron Cohen.
In a campaign speared by Crouse and Ekman-Larsson, Coyotes players agreed to donate $10,000 to the Arizona Bobcats Youth Hockey Program, a number that Cohen immediately matched on behalf of the Coyotes front office.
All in all, the organization is donating $20,000 to help the Bobcats.
"To hear the team and players immediately, and with no hesitation, offer the level of assistance they did was an incredible gesture that makes all the difference for the program, but even more so to the 80-plus players without gear," said Kristy Aguirre, the Executive Director of the Coyotes Amateur Hockey Association. "This will help expedite the replacement of all lost items so that our teams affected can properly launch the 2019-20 season. Thank you all so much for your support of our program and families, game changers for sure."
The incident hit home for Crouse, who promptly looked for a way he and his teammates could help the group of local youth hockey players.
"I saw the reports on social media over the weekend and immediately wanted to figure out a way to help out," he said. "This was awful, especially since it involves our local youth players. I reached out to the team and they were on board, hockey equipment isn't easy to replace, and we want to make this as easy for the kids and families as possible."
From a leadership standpoint, Ekman-Larsson is pleased his Crouse's act of urgency and the matching donation from Cohen's front office staff.
"This is a great initiative for our players to come together and be a part of, to try and help resolve such a terrible situation," Ekman-Larsson added. "As a captain, I think it shows great character by Crouse to step forward and for Ahron and the front office to match our donation. Hopefully this helps to get the kids back on the ice as soon as possible."
Being available in times of need for others in the community, and especially when it involves the next generation of hockey players in Arizona, is an important aspect to the overall objective Cohen is working tirelessly to implement, and for good cause.
"For our mission and our philosophy, in terms of getting involved in the community, a lot of things are planned and organized, but sometimes things like this pop up where we can step in and help," said Cohen. "This was just a terrible situation, you really feel for these kids that had all of their gear stolen, so we saw an opportunity to help our youth hockey community out. I'm really proud of our players for stepping up and taking the initiative and it goes to show that we really have some fantastic people that represent this organization. Hopefully we made a bad situation a little bit better today."