"We wouldn't have had this opportunity without Alex Meruelo up top. If there was any doubt about his desire and commitment to win a Stanley Cup, I think this should certainly answer that."
The Coyotes pulled the trigger on yet another high-profile acquisition on Monday afternoon, a mid-season blockbuster deal that brought 2018 NHL MVP Taylor Hall to an already first-place Coyotes roster.
President of Hockey Operations and General Manager John Chayka has talked often about the strong and systematic working relationship he's had with Coyotes Owner, Chairman, and Governor Alex Meruelo since the two became a tandem over the summer.
"I don't think the deal happens without his support and his involvement," Chayka said of Meruelo shortly after the Hall trade went official. "The key with him is he's got a deep desire and drive and will to win, he's also a great strategic mind, so he understands the value of players and the value of building a team."
Carl Soderberg , Phil Kessel , and now Taylor Hall .
Meruelo was strong and direct with his words when he spoke in August as he was introduced as the team's new owner. These are not words he has not retracted from, but rather strengthened.
He spoke of his goal to bring a Stanley Cup to the Valley, and he did so with enthusiasm. And to follow his words, he's put in some serious action.
And it's all about being opportunistic.
"We're taking on some risk," Chayka said. "But buying the team for Alex was a risk. He's a guy that understands that when there's a chance to create success and value, you've got to pursue those opportunities."
And this has been far from lost on head coach Rick Tocchet, who works directly with the players the front office delivers.
"I have to give credit to the new ownership coming in here, stabilizing everything, letting us acquire guys we want," Tocchet said. "The fans in this city really deserve it. We made strides last year. We're in first place this year with a lot of games left, so where can we take it?"
One could argue that Soderberg has been the Coyotes' most consistent player this season, providing an ever-dependable game night-in and night-out, fourth on the team in points (19) and second on the roster in goals (9).
Kessel's presence on and off the ice has been invaluable to the Coyotes' young core, and his power play wisdom has led him to lead the team in points (11) and goals (6) on the man advantage.
And there's Hall, who's less than two years removed from an MVP season in New Jersey and is coming off a campaign in which he averaged more than a point-per-game until being sidelined due to injury.
"When you look at the quality and caliber of this player and how rare it is to have the opportunity to acquire him, the asset acquisition cost and the ability to hold on to our under-24 group that we feel very strongly about, to give them a chance to win and reward our veteran players for all their hard work over a number of years, when you add it all up it was something that Alex was very supportive of and wanted to pursue, and without him we couldn't have done it."
Just the latest example of Meruelo walking the talk.
"My goal here with the rest of the team, the executives, the players, the coaches: I will not stop, I will not stop until we bring a Stanley Cup to the Valley," he said in August, the first time he addressed the organization. "That is my goal, my commitment, and hopefully my promise to keep."