In an interview with Puck Daddy, Arizona Coyotes co-owner Anthony LeBlanc explained many ways the team is attempting to rise from its recent legal strife with the City of Glendale and continue growing as a hockey market.
Among those new measures, according to LeBlanc, is a kids' jersey exchange program starting this season. If a parent brings their child to Gila River Arena in a another team's jersey, the Coyotes will offer to exchange that jersey for one of their own.
Here's what LeBlanc had to say about it, via Puck Daddy:
One of the interesting things we’ll be doing this year for example, it’s a little thing but it shows how we’re trying to change the perspective. If a father or a mother shows up to a game with their kids in another team’s jersey, we’ll exchange that jersey for free so the kid can get a Coyotes jersey. So we’re putting the pressure on the parent.
You may support the Sabres, but Johnny supports the Coyotes. Why don’t you ditch that Sabres jersey to get a Coyotes jersey? That’s really the focus. When you look at hockey markets that have been very successful in non-traditional markets like San Jose and Dallas, they really focus on youth and in particular youth hockey.
LeBlanc expanded to say the team is trying to encourage the younger generation of sports fans who are growing up with the team in place. The team moved to Arizona just 19 years ago, so a large amount of Coyotes supporters—many of whom may not be natives of the Valley—already have a previous and/or superior affiliation with another NHL team.
But those younger fans are more likely to be natives of the area and less likely to have that tie to another hockey club, which is a good reason for the Coyotes to implement new initiatives to draw in those individuals.
I can't say I've heard of another professional sports team offering a program like this, but one thing the Coyotes desperately need is public support—especially in a market where hockey is nowhere near the forefront of its sporting culture.
This program will hopefully, for the Coyotes' sake, benefit the relationship between the team and the younger generation of hockey fans. Just look at what the Coyotes did for the childhood of Auston Matthews, the Scottsdale native projected to go No. 1 overall in next year's NHL Draft.