The Arizona Coyotes may not be the most well-known team in the NHL, but they have a rich history filled with talented players who have left a lasting impact on the franchise. From their early days as the Phoenix Coyotes to their current identity as the Arizona Coyotes, the team has seen numerous ups and downs, but through it all, there have been players who have stood out and become an integral part of the team’s history. In this article, we will take a deep dive into some of the franchise’s most iconic players and how they have shaped the Arizona Coyotes into the team we know today.
But before we get into the players themselves, it is important to understand the history and context of the Arizona Coyotes. The team was founded in 1972 as the Winnipeg Jets, and they played in the World Hockey Association (WHA) before joining the NHL in 1979. In 1996, the team relocated to Phoenix, becoming the Phoenix Coyotes. However, financial struggles and poor on-ice performance led to the team being owned by the NHL for four years. In 2005, the team was sold to a group of investors led by Wayne Gretzky, who became the franchise’s head coach. It was during this time that the team was renamed the Arizona Coyotes.
With that brief history lesson out of the way, let’s now take a look at some of the franchise legends who have made a significant impact on the Arizona Coyotes.
It would be impossible to talk about the Arizona Coyotes without mentioning Shane Doan. Doan, the team’s all-time leader in games played, goals, assists, and points, is the embodiment of a franchise legend. He spent his entire 21-year career with the organization and was a fan favorite throughout his tenure. Doan’s leadership on and off the ice, as well as his consistency and work ethic, made him a role model for younger players and a beloved figure in the Arizona community.
Doan’s career with the Coyotes was highlighted by his leadership as team captain for 13 seasons, his 402 goals, and his participation in the 2010 Winter Olympics, where he won a gold medal with Team Canada. He was also a two-time NHL All-Star and won the Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2012.
Drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in 1990, Keith Tkachuk quickly became one of the franchise’s top players. He was known for his physical, hard-hitting style of play and was a force on the ice, scoring over 200 goals in his six seasons with the Jets. When the team relocated to Phoenix, Tkachuk continued his success, leading the team in goals for six consecutive seasons.
Tkachuk’s leadership and offensive prowess earned him the title of team captain in 2001, a role he held until he was traded to the St. Louis Blues in 2001. He finished his career with 538 goals and 1,065 points, making him one of the most prolific players in franchise history.
As a current player on the Arizona Coyotes, Oliver Ekman-Larsson has already made a significant impact on the team’s history. The Swedish defenseman was drafted by the Coyotes in 2009 and has since become one of the team’s top players. Known for his offensive skills, Ekman-Larsson has been a consistent scorer and key contributor on the blue line, leading the team in assists for four consecutive seasons.
Named team captain in 2018, Ekman-Larsson has also been a leader on and off the ice, known for his positive attitude and work ethic. He has been selected to the NHL All-Star Game four times and was a member of the Swedish national team that won the silver medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Doan, Tkachuk, and Ekman-Larsson are just a few of the many players who have made significant contributions to the Arizona Coyotes franchise. Others include Teppo Numminen, Jeremy Roenick, and Teemu Selanne. These players have not only left their mark on the team’s history but have also become staples in the community and beloved by fans.
The impact of these franchise legends goes beyond just their performances on the ice. They have helped shape the culture and identity of the Arizona Coyotes and have provided a sense of stability and continuity for the franchise. They have also inspired future generations of players to aspire to achieve greatness and leave their own mark on the team.
The Arizona Coyotes may not have the most well-known or successful history in the NHL, but they have a rich legacy of iconic players who have greatly impacted the franchise and the sport of hockey in Arizona. These players have become legends, not only for their accomplishments on the ice but also for their leadership, dedication, and contributions to the community. As the Arizona Coyotes continue to develop and grow, it is important to remember and honor these franchise legends who have played such a central role in the team’s history.