GLENDALE – Thousands of Coyotes fans poured into Gila River Arena Friday night for the team’s NHL Draft party. It was an opportunity to escape the team’s current legal battle with the city of Glendale and catch a glimpse of the franchise’s new look and future.
Anthony LeBlanc, Coyotes president, CEO and co-owner, said he was grateful to the fans who spent their evening at the arena.
As part of the event, the franchise unveiled new jerseys that sport a new color scheme on the shoulder and arm portion and two new patches, one for the home set and the other away.
The rest of the uniform includes black pants with the white stripe removed and black gloves.
“We wanted to retain what we think is probably the best logo in the NHL in the Coyote head,” LeBlanc said. “It’s been over a year process working with our partners at Reebok, working with our partners at the NHL.
“We thought we took a good thing and made it considerably better.”
The jerseys were presented by the team’s 2014, 2013 and 2011 first-round draft picks Brendan Perlini, Max Domi and Connor Murphy, respectively, and 2014 second-round pick Christian Dvorak.
The 22-year-old Murphy, who said being in the arena made him excited for the upcoming year, told reporters the new color scheme gave the uniforms a new edge.
“I think the whole combination of having the new gloves and pants and different style of the jerseys is really exciting and, obviously, kind of gives it a staple to the new start next year,” Murphy said. “I think it’s really slick and with the contrast to the black mixed in with everything, it adds a little extra oomph too it.
“We’re excited with how it looks and I think the fans are too.”
The centerpiece of Friday night’s party was the No. 3 overall selection in the NHL Draft. With that pick, the Coyotes selected center Dylan Strome, whose 129 points with the Erie Otters won the Ontario Hockey League’s 2014 scoring title.“I had a good feeling that it was going to be them if they were picking,” Strome said. “I’m extremely honored and proud to be a Coyote, and I can’t wait to get started.
“I obviously want to help out the team as soon as possible, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to be there.”
Though Coyotes Executive Vice President and General Manager Don Maloney said the team gave strong consideration to trading its first selection before drafting Strome, he told reporters the opportunity Strome presented was too good to give up.
“We had two very serious offers to trade that pick outright,” Maloney said, “and the longer we looked, passing up what we think is such a key building block for this franchise in a big, skilled playmaking center that everybody that ever wins anything has to have – we need something very, very special to move us off Dylan Strome.
“The only way we would do it is to guarantee that we got Strome.”