Hockey fans turned out in impressive numbers Saturday afternoon at the Coyotes’ annual “Open House” to tour Jobing.com Arena, pick seats for the 2008-09 season, and get pictures taken with and autographs from the team’s top three forwards.
, Peter Mueller and newcomer Olli Jokinen, who likely will play together on the top line when the regular season opens on Oct. 11, signed autographs and posed for pictures for about three hours without a break.
The final attendance figure for the “Open House” was 2,513. That’s the biggest gathering for this annual event, by far.
“I think the turnout is a great tribute to the team and these three players,” Coyotes President Doug Moss said. “I think people know this team is moving in the right direction and they wanted to come out and see these guys.”
A common mind-set among the attendees was that the season can’t start soon enough.
“This event gets me very excited for the season, especially seeing the players here because I think this is a playoff team this year,” Chandler resident Adam Melton said.
Mike Gurney, a season-ticket holder from Phoenix, also is eager for the puck to drop.
“I’m just ready for the season and this is a way to get started and get psyched for it,” Gurney said. “This is (also) a good way to come out and see people that you don’t get to see during the summer. We’ve got a lot of friends that we’ve met throughout the different seasons and this is our fourth season. I start getting withdrawals during the summer so this is one of those ways to boost my fix.”
Glendale resident Michael Perry and his daughter Kayla, a big Mueller fan, also attended.
“This is kind of a big deal and it’s really nice of them to do this for the fans,” Michael Perry said. “They put on a nice event.”
Monique Reaux, a season-ticket holder from Tolleson, is ecstatic the Coyotes traded for Jokinen.
“It’s indescribable what I think we’re going to have with him this season,” Reaux said. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world. In fact, I just went and paid for my season tickets – in full! I didn’t want to take any chances.”
Reaux, like many other fans, enjoys the “Open House” because it allows her to feel closer to the players for whom she cheers.
“When you walk up to the table and the guys greet you and it’s like you’re neighbors or friends, it adds a huge personal touch and you feel more invested in the team,” she said.Editor’s note: Don Schwartz contributed content to this story.