Coyotes, Arizona State University to help each other at Mullett Arena
The Arizona State sophomore and son of former Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan scored the first goal in the Sun Devils’ brand new 5,000-seat state-of-the-art on-campus facility, a putback of his own rebound in a 2-0 win against Colgate on Oct. 14.
Perhaps as soon as next season, Doan will experience another first at the arena and become the first player to play a home game for both of its active tenants, the Sun Devils and Coyotes.
The younger Doan was selected by Arizona in the second round (No. 37) of the 2021 NHL Draft.
“That’s the hope, that one day sometime down the road that would be a cool experience, but it’s way down in the future,” Doan told NHL.com after the Sun Devils practiced here Wednesday. “We’ll see when that comes. Who knows. Patience is a virtue.”
It has to be for Doan and the Coyotes, who await the fate of a nearly $2 billion development proposal that features plans to build an arena one mile away from ASU’s campus.
Negotiations for the Tempe Entertainment District are ongoing between the Tempe City Council and Bluebird LLC, a development company formed by Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo.
But starting Thursday, when the Coyotes practice here for the first time, and for the foreseeable future, they will play their home games at ASU’s arena. They play their home opener against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday (10:30 p.m. ET; ESPN+, HULU, TVAS, TSN3, SN NOW).
There are few people on campus more excited about the ability to call the Coyotes co-tenants than the players and coaches in Arizona State’s Division I men’s hockey program.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for some guys here getting the opportunity to see guys like that skate and the opportunity maybe to pick their brains if you run into them,” Doan said. “Obviously, they’re the highest of the high. That’s where everyone wants to end up, so if you get an opportunity to visualize, see what they’re doing, it’s something we have to take advantage of.
“We talked to our team about just embracing the moment of being in this facility and being able to use all of the assets it has, and I think you’ve got to consider that one of its greatest assets is being around NHL players.”
That is not limited to the Coyotes. Players from the other 31 NHL teams will soon be making their way through Mullett Arena too.
“Right when the news broke that the Coyotes were coming to play in this rink that was our first thought, just being able to see [Connor] McDavid or [Sidney] Crosby or any of those guys come into this rink for a morning skate or practice,” said ASU defenseman Jackson Niedermayer, the son of Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Niedermayer. “It’s definitely exciting knowing all 32 teams are going to come in here, and hopefully we see and talk to some of them and learn a lot from them.”
Niedermayer said he has friends at ASU who aren’t associated with the hockey program but can’t wait to catch some NHL games on campus.
“There is a buzz around campus with us and them moving in,” he said. “It’s kind of like a partnership.”
One that will benefit Arizona State and it’s men’s hockey program, coach Greg Powers said.
Powers brought up the fact that all the ASU branding inside the arena will be visible on 41 television broadcasts, which are available nationally through ESPN+.
“You can’t walk into this place and not know you’re at Arizona State’s arena because it is our arena,” Powers said. “It absolutely helps us. I don’t see how it could hurt us.”
The Coyotes are building what they call the Annex, a two-story, 15,000-square foot building attached to Mullett Arena and will feature all the amenities required for an NHL team, including home and visiting dressing rooms, medical facilities, coaches offices and more.
That will stay when the NHL team leaves.
“We keep it,” Powers said. “It’s ours. We own it.”
Powers said his goal is for ASU to eventually have a Division I women’s ice hockey team that could use the Annex as its homebase and share a weight room with the men’s program. He said having it will also allow ASU to host NCAA regional tournament games and USA Hockey events.
“We’re going to use this to our advantage in every way because why wouldn’t we,” he said.
The Annex won’t be completed until Dec. 9, when the Coyotes host the Boston Bruins, after a 14-game road trip from Nov. 5-Dec. 7. They are using the current visitors dressing room as their main room for their first four home games.
Their opponents — the Jets, New York Rangers, Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars — will use a makeshift dressing room created for them on the rink at Mountain America Community Iceplex, which is attached to Mullett Arena, a less than 50-step walk to the main rink.
Powers is allowing Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny and his staff to use his office and the coaches’ lounge for the first four home games.
“I think some people wonder, ‘Why don’t you let them use your locker room?'” Powers said. “It’s our room. We’re not leaving our room. Essentially, my whole directive with ASU as a coach was anything that displaces our players we’re not doing, but the staff and any way we can help make this transition for them, we’re going to help. We want to make sure that they get as good of an experience as they can out of here because it’s the right thing to do.”
The Coyotes had to upgrade the tubing in the subfloor under the playing surface to have NHL quality ice, which Powers said is now the best in college hockey.
Technology upgrades to allow for video replay and real time stats on the benches. They’re working on extending the ribbon boards to allow for full advertisements in the arena.
“All this stuff we keep,” Powers said. “The business deal for ASU is a no-brainer.”
And a slam dunk for the Sun Devils, Doan included, at least until he’s suiting up here for the Coyotes.