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Kessel's Arizona arrival a display of growth, change, and anticipation

The Coyotes' premier offseason addition addressed media on Tuesday morning in Glendale

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes

Two months have passed since the acquisition of Phil Kessel on June 29, and if any further reassurance was needed to establish the organizational future with the Coyotes' blockbuster addition, it was met with an encouraging sense of reality and substance on Tuesday morning at Gila River Arena.

The oft-described prolific scorer, whose numbers more than legitimize that characterization, met with Arizona media for the first time in person before joining a slew of his new teammates for an informal skate.

"I think this is a good group of guys, a good young team, and as of last year you can see that they're building something here. I want to be a part of that," he said in response to the opening question. "My time in Pittsburgh was coming to an end, I felt that, and I think this is a great situation for me and I want to help this team any way I can."

Video: Phil Kessel Introductory Press Conference

Kessel's wide-ranging experience has seen him play with three different organizations, Arizona becoming the fourth. Any new season brings upon a fresh start, and one with a new team can add a feeling of rejuvenation.

He matched his second-highest single-season point output last year [82] with the Penguins, playing in all of Pittsburgh's 82 games.

He has not missed a single game in nine seasons.

Still, there's a determination driving the 31-year-old superstar, a fire that the playoff-maligned Coyotes embrace.

"You want to prove to people that you want to be better than you have in the past," he said. "I want to make this team into a playoff team, I want to do that, I have that in my gut to try and make that happen, and I'm going to do whatever I can to make that happen."

To Kessel's right was President of Hockey Operations and General Manager John Chayka, who set the table for Tuesday's conference with glowing remarks.

"When talking to our new owner, Alex Meruelo, I described Phil as one of the most prolific goal scorers in the National Hockey League," Chayka exclaimed. "He's a two-time Stanley Cup champion, someone that will fit in well with our players and coaching staff and really address the direct need of our team. He's someone I felt could take our team to the next level."

The sense of optimism and excitement Kessel has brought to the organization, even before playing a single game, is apparent. He has had a profound effect on the front office and team business operations; the Coyotes have witnessed a 600 percent increase in season ticket sales since Kessel was acquired.

If anyone has seen the impact first-hand, it's been President and CEO Ahron Cohen, who sat to Kessel's left on Tuesday morning.

"Everyone in this community is really excited about what he brings to this team, and people see the trajectory that we're on," Cohen said. "We've had a really good summer ticket sales-wise, we're selling a lot of 'Phil the thrill' t-shirts, there's a lot of good excitement and buzz heading into the season, and we've only just begun."

While the Coyotes are elated with their new addition, Kessel is facing arguably the biggest change he's made as a professional player.

The Madison, WI native has spent the entirety of his career in the Midwest and northeast; playing Junior and Collegiate hockey in Minnesota, his time in the NHL spanning over Boston, Toronto, and Pittsburgh. He's happy to be westward bound.

"It's different, right? All my time has been spent in the Midwest and east coast, but I'm excited," he noted of his new geographics. "I like the warm weather, it's nice to be out here, it's something different. I'm at a time in my life where I'm ready for something different, ready for some change, want to try something new and grow something."

Change, after all, is a good thing.

"That's what I want to do here, I want to grow, I think it's a great city, so I'm happy to be here to help grow this team into a contender."

And good things are on the horizon.

"I'm really looking forward to this," he added. "Hopefully we can keep growing this into something and get a lot of support, fill the building, get the fans and the city excited."

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