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Coyotes promote Cohen to president and CEO, replacing Patterson

New Coyotes president and CEO Ahron Cohen (Arizona Coyotes photo)

The Coyotes have promoted Ahron Cohen to president and CEO, Cohen confirmed on Tuesday to ArizonaSports.com. Cohen will replace Steve Patterson, who was named to the same posts on July 12, 2017. Patterson will continue to work with the Coyotes in a consulting/advisory role.

“Ahron is a rising star in the National Hockey League and a leader in the Phoenix community. I couldn’t be happier to name him as our CEO,” Coyotes owner Andrew Barroway said in a statement produced by the team. “Ahron is a tireless worker and he brings real vision to the job. With John Chayka running our hockey operations and Ahron leading the business, the Coyotes continue to be in great hands. I wouldn’t trade our future with any team in the NHL.”

Cohen joined the Coyotes in 2015 as the team’s general counsel. He became COO last year, overseeing business operations, arena planning, legal issues, and civic and government relations.

“I want to stress how grateful I am to Andy Barroway for giving me this opportunity,” Cohen said by phone Tuesday. “I think we’ve turned the corner as a franchise here. I think we’ve changed the perception of this organization and I’m here to move us forward and take positive steps every single day.

“John and Andy and myself have a collective vision for what we are and who we aspire to be. Our collective vision is growing hockey and fandom in Arizona, building a competitive hockey team and positively enriching our community. If we accomplish those things, everything else is going to fall into place and that’s ultimately how we will achieve our long-term arena solution.”

Patterson served as Arizona State’s athletic director from 2011-13, before leaving for the same post at Texas (a post he resigned in September 2015). His experience with the local market led the Coyotes to hire him to spearhead the team’s quest for a new arena, after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the team could not remain at Gila River Arena in Glendale, long-term.

“I think it takes a special leader to steady the ship during a period of change and Steve did just that, coming in last summer with all the changes in the organization, really helping to put us in the right position moving forward,” Cohen said. “Steve has some other things going on and it was really a collective decision to streamline our process and move us forward, so this is a natural transition. The rationale was: get somebody in here who had been around the block and can calm the waters and he did achieve that purpose.”

Patterson said he would tackle multiple business ventures, including resuming his role as President of Pro Sports Consulting, a company that, according to his bio, “provides services to companies, government entities and individuals who operate or seek to acquire or sell professional sports properties, to design, finance, build and operate sports facilities and to maximize the revenues in these and related industries like media, sponsorship, food service and merchandise.” He called this a good time to make a transition.

“Andy asked me to do some structural things to help put the club in a better position coming out of a tough time and we accomplished those,” Patterson said by phone Tuesday. “Ticket sales are up, we made progress in terms of branding for the franchise, and John has done a great job with the hockey team. We put the blueprint in place that could bring more success to the team. It’s time to let them take it from here.”

There has been little news on the arena front since Patterson took over, other than NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly saying during the Stanley Cup Final that the Coyotes have “at least three [local] options.” Patterson declined to comment on the arena situation on Tuesday. Despite his exit, Cohen insisted the quest for a new arena is progressing.

“When we have something to report and we’re ready to share that, we’ll certainly let everyone know,” Cohen said. “We’re working toward establishing a long-term plan and solution and we’ll get there, but it doesn’t do anybody any good to talk about things that aren’t fully baked.

“The arena process has always been a collaborative effort. Moving forward, myself and our arena consultant, Mitchell Ziets, and Andy and John and some other advisors will continue to push things forward. The honest answer is things are still moving forward and we’re committed to creating long-term stability here in Arizona. We love this market, this is our home and where we want to be for a very long time.”

Cohen said he has specific goals in mind in his new post.

“The way we’re going to get to our collective vision is by playing out our core values,” he said. “We need to be cool and relevant and engage our fan base. We need to be committed to doing the right thing all the time for this community and be connected with this Valley. We have to be courageous, take stances on things we believe in and know are right whether it is popular or not. Above all else, we need to engage with our community. Every day we should wake up and ask how can we make this community a better place? That has to be a critical priority and that’s what I want to do.

“I’m married to this job. This is my passion. I love this team and I love the opportunity we have to build something special in Arizona.”

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