SCOTTSDALE -- Coyotes players, coaches and executives mingled with approximately 500 corporate and media partners at the team's annual "Face-Off Luncheon" on Thursday at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort.
All of the players on the Opening Night roster attended and each one dined, one per table along with an airman from Luke Air Force Base, with the invited guests. After the meal, the players signed autographs and posed for photos with the guests well into the afternoon.
Team mascot Howler and members of the Paw Patrol also attended in pep rally mode. The team's first game of the season is Saturday.
Todd Walsh of FOX Sports Arizona served as emcee of the event. During lunch he posed questions to Team President and CEO Anthony LeBlanc, President of Hockey Operations Gary J. Drummond, Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations/Head Coach Dave Tippett and General Manager John Chayka. Team Owner, Chairman and Governor Andrew Barroway also attended the event.
The big news of the day came when LeBlanc announced that the Coyotes will build a new outdoor DEK hockey rink at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale. The target date for completion of the rink is January 1, 2017. The cost is estimated at $200,000.
"This is the beginning of a new initiative by the Coyotes, the NHL and the NHLPA to build several new DEK hockey rinks around the Valley and state," LeBlanc said. "The Coyotes are committed to the Valley and to growing the great game of hockey in our state. We are thrilled to launch this effort with our great friends and partners at Luke Air Force Base."
The announcement regarding the rink was well received.
"If there's a model example of how to support Luke Air Force Base and Fighter Country Partnership it's the Arizona Coyotes, as far as sports teams go in the state," said Ron Sites, the executive director of Fighter Country Partnership. "They have been fantastic supporters of ours. Over the last three or four years we have been spoiled by the way the Coyotes have treated us and it's greatly appreciated."
Sites said the rink would get plenty of use once completed.
"The base is going to use this rink for military children, and they'll have a blast, but it's also going to use it from a physical training and exercise standpoint," Sites said. "How cool is that initiative? Not only are we growing the game of hockey, we're also helping to support our Air Force. It's awesome."
At one point during the luncheon, LeBlanc provided an update on the team's new arena situation using football lingo.
"We're in the red zone, first and goal," LeBlanc said. " ... I can guarantee we will have an announcement this season."