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Hockey’s Growth In Arizona

from Sarah McLellan of azcentral sports,

During the Coyotes’ inaugural season in the Valley, the state featured 2,349 USA Hockey registered players.

That number rose to 7,329 for the 2014-15 campaign – a jump of 212 percent – and the most significant boost among youth players has been for those 8 years old and under (331 to 1,101).

“When the Coyotes moved in to Arizona, a hockey market grew up with the team,” Pat Kelleher, assistant executive director for development at USA Hockey, wrote in an email. “Now, with an ownership group and team staff focused on growing the game, we are seeing unprecedented hockey participation numbers in the state. It’s a credit to the NHL, the Coyotes, USA Hockey and most importantly the local volunteers who are creating great hockey experiences for thousands of families in Arizona.”

Not only did the Coyotes’ arrival seem to stir an interest in playing hockey, but it also opened up more opportunity to actually get on the ice.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, d, Non-NHL Hockey, Youth Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

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This is why you look to expand the NHL beyond its “traditional markets”. You build a fan base by not only exposing the game in the NHL arena but by getting kids to play and watch the game.

I’ve never understood the group so firmly against teams in non-traditional markets, always proposing relocation or folding of unsuccessful teams. I could understand it if these fans of hockey had a monetary stake in it but they don’t. It becomes, to me, an almost elitist attitude. Why wouldn’t you want your favorite game to be experienced by more people?

Fans are not just those who pay for tickets to sit in the seats at the arenas (which have prices that are far too high for the average family to enjoy often). They are the people watching at home, following it on the internet and social media, playing it in recreation leagues and dreaming about it at home. The seeds for those things happening are made by having an NHL team in the proximity. Many fans are born just by seeing the game in person for the first time. I’ve personally converted many adults and have a daughter who loves hockey. That wouldn’t have happened without an NHL club in my non-traditional market.

Posted by evileye on 12/28/15 at 01:06 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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