Coyotes CEO Ahron Cohen: NHL’s pause is ‘fluid,’ but resuming games expected

Mar 13, 2020, 10:53 AM | Updated: 2:55 pm
Arizona Coyotes CEO Ahron Cohen joins The Doug & Wolf Show for an interview on 98.7 FM Arizona’s ...
Arizona Coyotes CEO Ahron Cohen joins The Doug & Wolf Show for an interview on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Feb. 13, 2019. (Arizona Sports/Matt Layman)
(Arizona Sports/Matt Layman)

It’s starting to sound like a broken record, but maybe because it’s the only certainty: The coronavirus outbreak and its far-reaching consequences comprise a “fluid” situation.

Nobody can say for sure how long the National Hockey League — or any other league — will be on hiatus after the NHL announced Thursday that it was pausing the season amid fears of COVID-19. Arizona Coyotes president and CEO Ahron Cohen admitted to Doug & Wolf on Arizona Sports even he didn’t expect this outcome mere days ago.

“At the start of the week, this was certainly not the expectation that we were going to be sitting here Friday morning talking about the league being put on pause,” he said.

Cohen said it started with safeguarding players from fan interactions and also protecting the fans themselves. The Coyotes put out a statement on Wednesday outlining how the team planned to enhance fan safety for Thursday night’s game against the Vancouver Canucks.

Twenty-four hours later, the game was called off.

The NHL followed suit with the NBA, which suspended its season after Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus. Gobert’s teammate, Donovan Mitchell, also reportedly tested positive.

The Jazz played on Monday in Toronto at ScotiaBank Arena, which is also home to the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. The Jazz were at Little Ceasars Arena, T.D. Garden and Madison Square Garden this month, which all are mixed-use facilities that house both NBA and NHL teams.

“Quite frankly, there are a number of teams that, over the last 10 days or so, were in the same visitor locker room a day behind the Utah Jazz,” Cohen said. “So there’s certainly a concern there.

“There’s no strict metric or guideline as to when it’s going to be ready to come back and play hockey. The guiding principle there is, when it’s safe and prudent, the NHL will resume.”

Still, Cohen said repeatedly that the expectation is to eventually resume the season.

“These are unprecedented times and everything is very fluid right now,” he said. “I think first and foremost, the goal of everyone and the goal of myself and our team is to make sure that our employees and players and fans and really everybody in this great state of Arizona is as safe as possible.”

For now, the Coyotes’ hockey operations department is on hold, as general manager John Chayka told reporters on a conference call Thursday.

“All the hockey operations staff, whether it’s our [AHL] team, our NHL team, players, coaches, trainers, extending to scouts and player development, the message is simple and it’s consistent: In the near term, it’s go home. Be safe,” Chayka said. “Stay at home until directed otherwise. Until things start to stabilize and we get other direction from the league, that’s our mandate.”


Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Arizona Coyotes

Arizona Coyotes goalie Karel Vejmelka (70) makes a save in traffic during the first period of an NH...
Associated Press

Coyotes get first point of the season in shootout loss to Sabres

Arizona Coyotes goalie Karel Vejmelka made 32 saves to help the team pick up a point against the Buffalo Sabres.
2 days ago
Conor Timmins #25 of the Arizona Coyotes controls the puck against Eric Robinson #50 of the Columbu...
Associated Press

Blue Jackets breeze past Coyotes in season opener

The Arizona Coyotes dropped the season opener and first game under coach Andre Tourigny 8-2 on the road against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
4 days ago
Andrew Ladd #16 of the Arizona Coyotes at a faceoff during a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings in ...
Arizona Sports

Arizona Coyotes name alternate captains for season opener

The Arizona Coyotes have named their alternate captains for the season opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
4 days ago
FILE - In this July 1, 2021, file photo, Arizona Coyotes new head coach Andre Tourigny speaks durin...
Associated Press

Arizona Coyotes enter 2021-22 with overhauled roster

With a slew of new faces, the Arizona Coyotes are hoping to reshape a franchise that’s been to the playoffs just once in the past nine years.
4 days ago
Goaltender Anson Thornton #56 of the Arizona Coyotes looks down ice during the third period of the ...
Arizona Sports

Coyotes sign goaltender Anson Thornton to 3-year entry-level deal

After spending training camp with the team on a amateur tryout, the Arizona Coyotes have signed G Anson Thornton to an entry-level deal.
5 days ago
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 07:  A shot by William Karlsson #71 of the Vegas Golden Knights gets by...
Arizona Sports

Arizona Coyotes ranked 31st by ESPN in 1st power rankings

It's going to be a transition year for the Arizona Coyotes. There's practically no choice for it not to be after the offseason they had.
6 days ago
Coyotes CEO Ahron Cohen: NHL’s pause is ‘fluid,’ but resuming games expected