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Coyotes Kit a Hit: Kachina for the Playoffs

Arizona will don its alternate uniforms for designated 2020 postseason home games. But why?

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes

What to wear?

You might have a favorite in your wardrobe, particularly for a special occasion.

The Coyotes had that decision to make when the NHL announced its 24-team return to play plan on May 26:

What to wear?

A postseason team can choose its home game jerseys, if it has an alternate dark uniform in its collection. The Coyotes had a choice between the primary brick red set or the trendy and nostalgic black Kachina kit.

Sam Doerr, the club's Vice President of Innovation & Strategy, said the team began considering its choice in December when the Coyotes were in the thick of the playoff race, at times leading the Pacific Division.

Then, everything stopped. 

"Once we got to the pause, we weren't really sure what things were going to look like," Doerr said. "We realized we would be playing in a hub city, a neutral site with no fans. So, that's when we decided that the Kachina would be great for us both locally -- as much as it's beloved in the Valley -- but also nationally, with all of the attention it gets. We were looking to make a splash and generate some buzz, beyond just the state of Arizona."

Of the top 10 jerseys sold at Gila River Arena this year, the top 7 were the alternate, black Kachina style. That's a testament to the resounding popularity of the jersey and logo.

"I'd say the fans really helped drive the decision," Doerr continued. "They made the decision easier, right? We wanted to listen to them and give them a voice. They have more of an impact than they realize."

The jersey decision was announced on May 29, three days after the NHL announced its planned return.

"The response to the announcement really justifies (our decision)," Doerr said. "We had hundreds of thousands of views on the announcement video on Twitter alone. It was one of our best results in a long time. I think the thirst for that Kachina look is quite apparent. So, we're excited about it. I think the players are excited about it too." 

Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun said, in April: "That's definitely my favorite jersey. I wish we'd wear them every [home] game, to be honest. I'm sure the guys would love that. It's a special uniform. My favorite. It's got to be one of the best of all time."

Head equipment manager Stan Wilson didn't hesitate, either, when asked which uniform set was the players' favorite, saying it was "without a doubt" the black Kachina alternates. 

Doerr noted that NBC sports and other media outlets highlighted the logo and jersey on social media earlier this year.

"There were surveys on different websites about the favorite uniform in Coyotes history and in Arizona sports history," Doerr said. "I think the Kachina was the favorite not only for the Coyotes, but all of Arizona sports, in terms of favorite logo, look and uniform." 

Indeed, the Kachina Coyote logo was voted by The Arizona Republic in April as the greatest logo in Arizona sports history. A similar survey with similar results appeared in The Athletic. The questions asked were: 'If you could bring back one uniform element from Arizona sports history;' 'What is your favorite kit in Coyotes history,' and 'Which Arizona pro sports team has the best uniforms.'"

A 'Pick 3' campaign in April listed the Top 3 choices; all were from the Kachina family, including the original home white and alternate desert scape sets.

"It was quite apparent that that's what people liked," Doerr said. "So, being on a national stage and playing 'do-or-die' hockey for the first time since 2012, we felt it was a no-brainer to wear the Kachina for our home games."

The team's new ownership group -- Owner, Chairman and Governor Alex Meruelo, President & CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez, President of Business Operations Patrick Murphy, and Strategic Advisor, Business and Hockey Operations Alex Meruelo Jr. -- embraces arguably the greatest aspect of the team's past.

"The key thing is they're very much in tune and in touch with the trends, with numbers and analytics," Doerr said. "Social and digital, the merchandise sales, it's pointing in one direction. It's certainly a group that is going to look at the numbers and facts and make a decision, and I think that helps. How can you not like the Kachina look?"

As far as bringing back the Kachina uniforms full time? Doerr said, not so fast, although they will be the standard home jersey during these playoffs.

"Our primary logo is still the Coyote head," Doerr said. "We love the logo; we love the look, and we love those jerseys, also. 

"We still feel very strongly about the Coyote head as our primary. I think, right now, it's the best of both worlds. We get to wear both. And we're listening. I think that's the biggest thing I've learned about the ownership group, is that they're always listening. They'll always include that in decisions that are made."

The Coyotes wore the original black Kachina jerseys for all road games from 1996-2003. After a 12-year hiatus, the jersey was re-introduced in a specialty "throwback" role March 2015. It was designated the team's official third jersey June 2018.

Lead Photo Credit: Kevin Anggara - Arizona Coyotes // Footer Photo Credit: Tyler Rittenhouse - Arizona Coyotes

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