SCOTTSDALE - Coyotes players playfully crashed an afternoon luncheon for non-premium season-ticket members on Wednesday to thank them for their loyalty and support.
Each of the 20 season-ticket members was randomly selected for the luncheon at The Keg Steakhouse + Bar at Desert Ridge.
Coyotes Head Coach Rick Tocchet attended and served as the key speaker. After Tocchet finished his opening remarks, five players, led by Oliver Ekman-Larsson, entered the dining room and immediately began mingling with the guests.
"It's great to get to know the players a little bit," said Tony Fleischhacker, a 16-year full season-ticket member. "It's definitely a cool experience that I was not expecting today."
Ekman-Larsson, Tobias Rieder, Jordan Martinook, Louis Domingue and Lawson Crouse all went table-to-table to chat with the guests. They also signed autographs for them and posed for photos with them.
"A lot of them are excited with the new changes and the future," Martinook said. "It's nice to see how excited they are about everything … And it's just nice getting to talk to everybody and feel everybody out, get some laughs and get some smiles. That's what it's all about."
Tocchet enjoyed answering questions from the guests. Topics included line combinations, the vacant captain spot and Tocchet's playing days with the Coyotes back in the late 1990s.
"I got a lot of different questions, which I love," Tocchet said. "I told them 'The tougher, the better.'"
Like Martinook, Tocchet said the guests' enthusiasm for the upcoming season was palpable and contagious.
"The energy you get from the fans gets you excited," Tocchet said. "They love hockey, they love the players on the team, they love the experience when they go to the Coyotes games, so you can't help but get excited as a head coach when you hear the excitement from your season-ticket holders."