Coyotes co-owner Anthony LeBlanc: 'It feels like Christmas morning over here'
One of the Coyotes' new owners described opening day as the culmination of all his work in successfully purchasing the team from the NHL.
"It feels like Christmas morning over here," Anthony LeBlanc told Arizona Sports 620's Doug & Wolf on Thursday. "It's euphoria. We've worked on this (ownership deal) for so long. I've been in and out of this for four years."
LeBlanc, as president, CEO and co-owner of the Coyotes, is responsible for all the hiring within the organization as well as finding sponsorship and media deals for the club. However, the Canada native said he leaves all "hockey decisions" to general manager Don Maloney.
"We look at (Maloney) and we look at (head coach) Dave Tippett as, quite frankly, hockey geniuses," LeBlanc said. "We were very direct in our conversations with the league as we were negotiating that those two gentlemen need to be a part of it. And the league agreed that they are such an important part of the business.
"The good news is (Maloney) has got a little bit more financial leeway than he's had in the past."
LeBlanc said he's looking forward to a sellout crowd against the Rangers, and that it will be an opportunity for the franchise to thank the fans for sticking with the team and staying patient throughout the team's ownership uncertainty. However, he said he won't dwell on the team's offseason changes for too long.
"We're looking forward to retiring the phrase 'Here to Stay," the CEO said. "As of tonight, when the puck drops, it's time to focus on the future; it's time to focus on hockey. But I think the fans will be excited, and I anticipate that the mood in the building will be fairly intense."
LeBlanc said ticket sales and sponsorships are higher than they were last year. He said he's expecting to average around 15,000 fans this year; the team averaged just under 14,000 in attendance last season, according to HockeyAttendance.com. By his third year with the Coyotes, LeBlanc said he wants to average around 17,000, which he calls a "virtual sellout every night."
Andrew Gilstrap, Web Content Editor - KTAR.com/ArizonaSports.com
- Off the Ice: Taking a look back at the 2013-14 Phoenix Coyotes
- NHL insider Barry Melrose surprised Phoenix Coyotes didn't make playoffs
- 2013-14 Phoenix Coyotes: By The Numbers
- Coyotes center Mike Ribeiro looking to move forward after 'one of the worst' seasons of his career
- Coyotes fall flat late under new owners
- Barry Melrose, ESPN NHL analyst - Tuesday April 15ESPN NHL analyst Barry Melrose talks about the Coyotes' collapse.
- Dave Tippett, Coyotes head coach - Friday April 11Dave Tippett talks about the Coyotes' six-game losing streak.
- George Gosbee, Co-Owner of the Phoenix Coyotes - Thursday April 10Should hockey make changes to its overtime rules?
- Shane Doan, Coyotes captain - Wednesday April 9Coyotes captain Shane Doan discusses the team's recent five-game losing streak.
- Luke Lapinski, Coyotes pre and post-game host - Wednesday April 9Coyotes pre and post-game host Luke Lapinski discusses the Coyotes' playoff race.