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Matt Gets His Shott on Hockey Fights Cancer Night

Coyotes' Director of Hockey Development to serve as team's ambassador for Hockey Fights Cancer Night

by Arizona Coyotes @ArizonaCoyotes / Arizona Coyotes

When a hockey club aspires to establish a presence in a non-traditional market, it takes intelligence, innovative thinking and unparalleled passion.

A crucial piece for the Arizona Coyotes in generating interest and building fan loyalty in the Valley is Coyotes' Senior Director, Hockey Development Matt Shott. The Arizona native exhibits all three of these essential qualities.

"I knew him from when he worked with a couple of the local arenas while I was playing," said Coyotes legend and Chief Hockey Development Officer Shane Doan. "My first impression of him was that he was somebody who loved hockey, loved being a part of the hockey community and was going to do anything that he could to help the community out and grow the game."

Shott fueled that passion toward growing hockey in the desert. His Arizona roots were the genesis to his ambition toward making a difference with the quality of youth hockey.

"Matt is an incredible and invaluable member of the Coyotes organization," said Coyotes President & CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez. "He's the heart and soul of what we stand for. Not only him as a person, but what he does with our youth program. From the moment I got here, I told him, 'What you do is critical to what we are about. It's critical to our success.' Everyone at the Coyotes loves Matt and we are supporting him personally during this journey of what he's been dealing with, as well as what he wants to accomplish in the Valley. He grew up here, he's a mainstay in the youth hockey community, and we're really honored and blessed to have him be a part of the Coyotes."

A concrete tactic to achieve the task at hand is to inspire local youth into developing a similar passion for the sport, specifically the historically underserved niche of girl's hockey. After working a year in Hamilton, Ontario, Shott returned to the Valley as the Adult Hockey Director and Facility Scheduler at the Ice Den Scottsdale. He joined the Coyotes organization in 2012 to work in hockey development, with one of the first steps being to spearhead the birth of the Kachinas girl's hockey program. 

The Kachinas program provides girls between the ages of 8 to 19 an opportunity to play organized hockey in their home state against one another. The program offers a setup with equal competition for young girls throughout the year. In addition to game action to help girls hone their skills, the program provides camps and private instructions to cater to all interested athletes across all skill levels.

In 2012, USA Hockey's final registration report lists 301 female players from Arizona across all ages. The most recent report (2020-21) shows the number has nearly tripled to 860. With the Kachinas specifically, the program boasts eight Elite Level teams under Shott's tutelage that play in USA Hockey-sanctioned tournaments.

"There are very few aspects of Arizona hockey that Matt hasn't influenced or enhanced throughout his lifetime, dating all the way back to his time working in local rinks as a teenager," said Lyndsey Fry, Coyotes' Ambassador/Director of External Engagement, Youth & Women's Hockey. "When he started with the Coyotes a decade ago, he knew that girl's hockey was in desperate need of growth in Arizona and he committed to making that happen. He fought to bring me onto the team and advocated for girl's hockey to be a major recipient of seed money from the NHL and NHLPA Industry Growth Fund. 

"Because of his efforts, we have now started all girls Learn to Play and Continue to Play programs as well as a full girls hockey association serving roughly 250 girls across 14 teams."

Fry, who also serves on the Coyotes Hockey Development team and is the radio analyst for home games, has been working alongside Shott for the past two years and has seen firsthand how committed he is to growing the sport locally.

"Matt is a student of the game," said Fry. "He has volunteered to coach almost every level in almost every association in town just so he can improve and be the best coach he can be. He is the most selfless person I know and all he has ever wanted to do in his life is leave Arizona hockey better than he found it. I think we can all agree that he has accomplished that mission and will continue to do so for many years to come."

From the Kachina's to the big club, Shott recently received an invitation from Coyotes Head Coach André Tourigny to be an honorary coach at a practice earlier in November. 

"I think it was a good idea to have him be an honorary coach," said Tourigny. "Matt is a good guy and thinking about when I was his age, I would have absolutely loved the opportunity to listen in to what the coach was saying about strategy, building a practice plan, looking at the video - all of it. For me it was appealing to give that opportunity to someone, and Matt is such a good guy so it was a no-brainer."

Shott got to sit in and listen to all the information Tourigny and the staff were working with when preparing for their game against the Minnesota Wild. Everything was on the table, from running an effective practice, evaluating which players will play on what lines and why, how to break down video, etc. They're all experiences he can pull from when working with the Kachinas in the future. It was a small token of appreciation from the Coyotes for all that Shott has done for youth hockey in the Valley.

"I think it's important for us to have a presence in the community and to make sure our fans understand that we're close," said Tourigny. "We're here to support them, we're here to help them and we're here to be with them. We are also here to support Matt."

Tonight, when the Coyotes take on the Detroit Red Wings, Shott will serve as the Coyotes Hockey Fights Cancer ambassador. The honor includes a tribute video, a ceremonial puck drop and an opportunity to share his story about his personal fight with cancer to inspire others.

"I think it's a special thing that we have an opportunity to salute our own and give some credit to someone that's in a fight and is fighting for our sport of hockey in the Valley," said Doan. "And that we can come alongside him and support him in any way, I think it's unique and special. I'm so grateful for it. I'm pretty proud of him as a man."

"It really, really warms my heart that we're able to do this because he's given everything to us," said Gutierrez. "Anything that we can do to help him and be there with him, encourage him, support him, inspire him; he does that for us every single day. It's going to be a very special night. As much as it's going to be special for him, it's going to be special for us because we get a chance to celebrate his spirit, his competitiveness, his passion and how much he cares for not only the organization but the entire Valley."

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