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‘She was loved’: Coyotes induct Leighton Accardo into Ring of Honor

Leighton Accardo, left, who is battling cancer, drops the puck in front of Arizona Coyotes' Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) and Calgary Flames' Mark Giordano (5) during an NHL Fights Cancer puck drop ceremony prior to an NHL hockey game in Glendale, Ariz., in this Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, photo. Accardo's will to attack anything in her path, even terminal cancer, lifted an entire organization. The Arizona Coyotes will carry her spirit on by making her the first non-player, general manager or broadcaster to be inducted into an NHL team's ring of honor. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

No Arizona Coyote will ever wear No. 49 again. That number is now hanging in the rafters.

Leighton Accardo, the 9-year-old who died on Nov. 24 after an 18-month-battle with Stage Four cancer, became the first person in NHL history who is not a former player, coach, general manager or broadcaster to be inducted into a team’s ring of honor.

Before the game against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, the Coyotes held a ceremony for Accardo. The team posted the tribute video to social media.

“She was my daughter. A fighter. An athlete. And most of all, I think if I had to pick something, I would say that she was loved,” her father Jeremy Accardo said in the video.

That much was clear from the emotional tribute and reactions from the players and Coyotes organization.

On Nov. 16, 2019, Accardo signed a one-day honorary contract with the Coyotes for the annual for the annual “Hockey Fights Cancer” game and took the ceremonial opening face-off.

She spent more time around the team and sent them a video message before the 2020 playoffs began. Following her death, the Coyotes team went to the Accardo home to play hockey and visit her family.

This season, players have worn “LA49” decals on their helmets. Before the game against the Blues, they wore warm-up jerseys emblazoned with “Leighton 49” that will be auctioned off with proceeds going to the Leighton Accardo Scholarship Fund.

On Saturday, the Coyotes made sure that she will be remembered throughout the team’s future. Leighton Accardo’s No. 49 will live on in the rafters.


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