Farewell to the desert? Coyotes’ potential finale in Arizona draws emotions and memories

The Arizona Coyotes will likely play in Mullett Arena for the last time Wednesday night as an announcement about relocation to Salt Lake City is expected soon, possibly Friday. (Photo by Reece Andrews/Cronkite News)

SCOTTSDALE – While so many questions remain unanswered, fans will say goodbye Wednesday in what is likely the final game for the Coyotes in Arizona.

As the day started, it was certain to be unlike any other for Coyotes players. At 10:30 a.m., the optional morning skate at the Ice Den in Scottsdale was already under way. The team had practiced Tuesday, so several veterans were granted the opportunity for the morning off.

Following the morning skate, Josh Doan remained on the ice, long after everyone else had departed. Why? To pick up pucks, of course.

(Video by Zach Mott/Cronkite News)

The Doan name is one whose meaning stems far beyond the player, Josh or Shane. Of course, there’s the Shane Doan rink inside the Ice Den, named after the 21-year NHL veteran, who spent his entire career with the Coyotes organization. But beyond that, the Doan name is meaningful to the Arizona sports community.

Shane helped to bring excitement for hockey to a place where many questioned its ability to succeed. He introduced the game to many young kids, including Auston Matthews and Matthew Knies. The Arizona natives, who play for the Toronto Maple Leafs, credit Shane for helping grow their love for hockey.

Even though Shane is retired, he remains involved in the Arizona community. His son, Josh, has continued the Doan legacy in the Valley. Growing up in Arizona, being involved with the team during his childhood and seeing how the fans embraced both his father and now him, Josh understands what Wednesday’s game means to the Valley.

Arizona Coyotes forward Josh Doan, top, celebrates his first NHL goal with teammates at Mullett Arena in Tempe. Doan was one of the last players off the ice following Wednesday’s morning skate.(Photo by Reece Andrews/Cronkite News)

Arizona Coyotes forward Josh Doan, top, celebrates his first NHL goal with teammates at Mullett Arena in Tempe. Doan was one of the last players off the ice following Wednesday’s morning skate.(Photo by Reece Andrews/Cronkite News)

“I think (the message to the fans), it’s just a thank you for everything they’ve done,” Josh said. “There’s a lot of disappointed people out there that are upset. It’s going to sting for a while.”

While this game will linger for a long time in the memories of the Doan family, the fanbase and the rest of the Coyotes organization, Coyotes coach André Tourigny hopes the season (and Arizona) finale will be remembered for more than just the future implications.

“We want to make it unbelievable by our performance and make sure nobody ever forgets,” Tourigny said. “For tonight, it would be unwise for us to focus on tomorrow. (If) we focus on tomorrow, we will not play the game we have to play to make sure our fans have what they deserve … an A performance from our team.”

The Coyotes host the Edmonton Oilers at 7 p.m. The two teams face off for the third time this season, with the series tied 1-1. Headed by Connor McDavid, the Oilers are approaching their fifth straight postseason appearance. But Coyotes fans don’t care what opponent is in front of them, they just want to win.

(Video by Danny Sullivan/Cronkite News)

Ticket prices for the game began to shoot up in price early last week. As of Monday afternoon, the cheapest ticket prices on Ticketmaster, TickPick and SeatGeek were in the $600 range. By Wednesday afternoon, just hours before the start of the game, the cheapest seat fell to $400.

Due to the surge in pricing and the limited seating inside Mullett Arena, a watch party outside of the arena was slated to begin for fans at 6 p.m. and expected to bring several thousand more people to Tempe to enjoy one final Coyotes game.

Additionally, the fans and team have organized a “white out,” a tradition used for special occasions. Every fan in attendance is encouraged to wear all white, or as much white as possible, to symbolize togetherness and bring a proper farewell to the Coyotes.

“For now, the Coyotes are still Arizona’s team for one more day,” Josh said.

(Video by Trey Matthews/Cronkite News)
Zach Mott(he/him)
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Zach Mott expects to graduate in May 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. Mott has interned with the Varsity Sports Show doing camera and broadcast work.

Sports Reporter, Phoenix

William Trey Matthews expects to graduate in May 2024 with a master’s in sports journalism. Matthews is a play-by-play announcer at Arizona State University, primarily for the hockey programs. He is one of the only full-time Black hockey play-by-play announcers in the country. He has been featured in NHL.com, USA Today, USCHO and other media. He’s also the host of the Locked On Devils podcast, which is part of the Locked On Podcast Network. Matthews graduated from Adrian College in 2022 with a bachelor’s in communication arts and science.

Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Danny Sullivan expects to graduate in May 2025 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism and a certificate in marketing.