Tourigny: Coyotes staffers dealing with ‘real life’ emotions amid relocation chatter

Apr 11, 2024, 12:03 PM | Updated: 12:04 pm

The Arizona Coyotes’ future is very much up in the air with the reports of potential relocation swirling around the desert franchise.

And while the outside noise continues to grow louder and louder, the repercussion of a potential move is reverberating within the organization with just three games left to play in what could be the last season in the Valley for this iteration of the Coyotes.

“There is a lot of impact because our players love to play in Phoenix. They love to play for each other. That has a huge impact,” head coach Andre Tourigny told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke on Thursday. “I’ll tell you where it has the most impact, we have 31 staff members who don’t have a contract for next year. Those guys have families, some have kids in Phoenix and are divorced, some have a wife or a partner who has a job who will now have to make a decision if the team is moving. … Those kinds of things are real, that’s emotion, that’s real life. That’s what we are in.

“Me as a coach, I love Phoenix, I choose to renew in Phoenix, I want to be in Phoenix, but I don’t know what will happen. It’s out of my control. Right now, the rumors are strong, and when we talk, the staff and their families are extremely impacted and that’s where it creates a really difficult situation for us. (A player) can be traded at any time. A coach can be fired at any time. That’s real life, that’s the way it is. For the people we work with, we’re in sports but we forget we’re in the people business. The people we are working with are definitely impacted right now.”

Tourigny’s comments come after Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro confirmed multiple reports that the Utah Jazz’s ownership and the Coyotes were in talks for Arizona to be sold and relocated to Salt Lake City.

The league also confirmed the reports in a memo to teams, but added the situation was still fluid.

Gambadoro added Friday that the Coyotes have three options. They could sell the team outright, temporarily relocate or the sell the team with the caveat that an expansion franchise could return to Arizona if owner Alex Meruelo can secure the land in Phoenix the team was hoping to obtain for a new arena in a June 27 auction.

Despite the reports, there was still a game to be had Thursday night for Arizona.

But instead of his team mailing with the massive distraction of relocation looming, Tourigny came away impressed as Arizona beat Vancouver 4-3.

“We learned the (rumor) in the morning, we addressed it as a team. The guys love each other. They love our group. They love to play for each other,” the head coach said. “We had a chip on our shoulder … and fortunately for us, we bounced back. I think the boys did a fabulous job to support the people around them and push for each other. The vibe on the bench was phenomenal.

“The guys did not want to quit, they did not want to let anything go. They pushed for each other. That was one of the greatest days in three years, the way the players responded and pushed for each other and really held together. That was great to see that character in our room and that bunch of guys that care for each other.”

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