Utah hockey fans welcome the former Arizona Coyotes to their new home | Sports

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah hockey fans welcomed the former Arizona Coyotes to their new home Wednesday.

Players and coaches were greeted at the airport in morning by a crowd of approximately 100 players from local youth hockey programs. The kids chanted “Go, Utah! Go, Utah!”

The team attended a fan celebration at the Delta Center in the afternoon. The arena was packed for the free event, with many fans turned away at the doors.

“We’re 70 people who got traded the same day and we’re going to the same place,” coach André Tourigny said. “I think all of that creates some magic. I think we’ll just be tighter with that. When you want to win championships, you need to go through the trenches together. We went through some trenches this year.”

The challenges uprooting from Arizona are tempered by the energetic reception the club has received in the state and a chance to build a new culture.

Salt Lake City Hockey

Lawson Crouse of the new Utah NHL hockey team speaks as the team is introduced during a welcome event Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

“We’re now a part of history,” player Lawson Crouse said. “Not too many people get to say they can do this. Obviously, the circumstances over the past couple of weeks have been unlike anything out there, but to be here now we feel honored, and we feel blessed and we’re really looking forward to get things rolling here.”

Immediate concerns for the team from a logistical standpoint include getting practice facilities and a locker room in place. They plan to make temporary arrangements with community venues for the near future.

“We just need ice whether it’s here or it’s at one of the practice rinks,” general manager Bill Armstrong said. “As long as we have ice, we’re good.”

Four-time All-Star forward Clayton Keller thinks team can break through and be a playoff team in its debut season in the Beehive State after failing to reach the postseason the last four years in Arizona.

“It takes time to learn how to win in this league,” Keller said. “When everyone buys in, I think that’s when you can take some steps and reach that next level.”

AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

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