Players, partners, staff and fans alike gathered for the Arizona Coyotes Foundation's annual Face-off Luncheon on Tuesday afternoon at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel.
First-hand interaction with the Coyotes' 2019-20 opening night roster coupled with an open forum from front office personnel created an exuberant atmosphere to help segway into the start of the regular season, which is just two days away.
"This is always an exciting event for myself and for the organization as a whole," said Coyotes President and CEO Ahron Cohen. "We love seeing our fans and partners here at the Face-off Luncheon, it's a great way to set the right tone for the season to kick things off and get everyone excited for Coyotes hockey."
Money raised from the luncheon benefited the Arizona Coyotes Foundation, which announced through its contributions to numerous Arizona non-profit organizations, schools, community partners and youth hockey groups, was able to help drive the organization to invest a total of $3.4 million into the Valley Community during the 2018-19 fiscal year.
"We feel very proud about that number, it involved a lot of hard work from a lot of different stakeholders," said Cohen, who announced the team's increased investment during the event. "It's everything from the players getting out into the community to people in the community contributing back to us, and ultimately it's about making our community a better place. I'm incredibly proud of it all, I like where we've gotten to over the past couple of years, but I'm more excited about the future. I want to see what we can do on top of the $3.4 million for the following year."
The synergy between players and those in the local community showcased on Tuesday is also seen as a benefit, especially to head coach Rick Tocchet, who has witnessed many of the names he's coached in the Valley over the past three seasons develop close relationships with local supporters.
"The guys really engaging with the fans here, that's a good thing for me to see," Tocchet said. "It's huge, they're a part of the community, they love living here and love everything about the Valley, it's an easy place to love. Events like this go a long way, especially to help our partners and fans know that they're a part of our team too."
Defenseman Jakob Chychrun , entering his fourth season with the Coyotes, is one of the many players that has grown close to the team's various local support systems, while also prioritizing his role in giving back.
"We take pride in giving back to our community," he said. "It's just good to talk to people who are here supporting us, we really appreciate it that they're here and that they're helping us with our foundation, it means a lot to us. Hockey is one thing, but to help the community with our foundation is something that really hits home with us, so we try to do as much as we can, and the luncheon every year is a fun way to do it."
Tuesday's event was a strong illustration of the good that can come from helping those around you. And that is why, as the smiles told on Tuesday afternoon, community activation is one of the core pillars that propels the mission and vision of the Coyotes organization.