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LeBlanc, Maloney Answer Questions from Fans at ‘Town Hall Meeting’

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes

GLENDALE – Coyotes fans peppered team executives with questions about off-ice and on-ice issues for an hour-plus before Saturday’s game at the team’s latest “Town Hall Meeting” inside a ballroom at the Renaissance Hotel & Spa.

The hot topics were the team’s future in Glendale, Shane Doan and rumors regarding trading defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to somehow acquire Scottsdale resident Auston Mathews, who is expected to be the No. 1 pick in this year’s NHL Draft.

“I read some rumblings that we would maybe trade Oliver Ekman-Larsson (for the No. 1 pick),” General Manager Don Maloney told nearly 300 attendees. “That will never happen. We love Auston Mathews. He’s going to be a terrific pro (but) we’ve got a star defenseman here. There are very, very few people in the league we would even consider trading Oliver for, and certainly not in that type of scenario.”

Team President and CEO Anthony LeBlanc echoed Maloney’s comments.

“If you take one thing away (from the Town Hall Meeting), it’s we’re not trading Oliver for a draft pick,” LeBlanc said.

Regarding the team’s future home, LeBlanc reaffirmed that a number of cities within the Valley have reached out to the Coyotes to discuss a new arena.

“Now we have to make an economic decision, and the reality is… the majority of the fan base tends to be on the other side of the Valley. So we are exploring it quite aggressively… I am very confident that we will have some kind of announcement out to the community in the next six weeks.”

LeBlanc said the Coyotes staying at Gila River Arena on a long-term basis does not seem probable.

“I will continue to say never say never, but with all due respect it’s highly, highly unlikely,” LeBlanc said.

Fans wanted to know if efforts have been made to re-sign Doan, whose contract expires at the end of the season. Maloney said he has been in touch with Doan’s agent.

“There’s no question he’s going to play, in my mind, next year and he’s only going to play in one place and that’s here with us in Arizona,” Maloney said.

One fan told Maloney he resents the fact that Doan still needs to engage in fights at age 39.

“He likes it,” Maloney said.

Other noteworthy comments:

• One fan brought up a question about the team possibly expanding to Las Vegas, Quebec City or Seattle, to which LeBlanc said:

“The chances that we’re going to relocate to one of those three markets is the square root of zero.”

• LeBlanc said the Coyotes have pitched hosting an outdoor game to the NHL.

“It’s fair to say we will continue to push for that,” he said. “I think it would be fantastic.”

• Maloney addressed moving the team's American Hockey League affiliate west.

“That’s what we want,” Maloney said. “That’s what we’re looking to do.”

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