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SportKessel trade has Coyotes fans excited for new direction

21:00  04 july  2019
21:00  04 july  2019 Source:   thescore.com

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Kessel trade has Coyotes fans excited for new direction© Gregory Shamus / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The Arizona Coyotes made one of their biggest acquisitions in franchise history last week when they landed three-time All-Star Phil Kessel in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Arizona hasn't finished higher than 28th in average attendance since the 2006-07 season, but that could change this upcoming campaign.

"The buzz has been pretty significant," Coyotes president and CEO Ahron Cohen said, according to The Arizona Republic's Richard Morin. "A lot of interest on social media, text messages from people in the community reaching out. There is an excitement and rejuvenation with this franchise. People can see the trajectory we're on."

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"It's still very new," Cohen said. "But we've seen an uptick in recent days. Our weekender package is significantly up compared to last year. I think there's a lot of people in the marketplace that have historically been hockey fans or Coyotes fans that are seeing this commitment now and are excited to jump on board and participate."

Kessel has been one of the league's most consistent point-producers since he arrived in the league with the Boston Bruins in 2006, as he's hit the 30-goal mark six times and has 823 points in 996 career games.

The Wisconsin native's 261 goals this decade rank ninth among all players and his 82-point campaign in 2018-19 would have marked the highest single-season total by any Coyotes player since the franchise's move to Phoenix in 1996-97.

Coyotes hire former Sabres head coach Phil Housley as assistant

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"Obviously, Phil is an elite player," Coyotes general manager John Chayka said. "Personally I can't (recall) the last time we've had a player of this caliber who has had this production and this resume on this team. I think it's exciting for our fans and it's exciting for our players."

Kessel brings both production and championship pedigree, as he captured back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Penguins in 2016 and 2017.

"This is a signal to the market that we're bringing in a marquee player and doing what we can to improve the team and win hockey games. I think the casual fan out there, maybe a person who is not even a hockey fan right now, can see this and take notice."

The Coyotes haven't made the playoffs in seven years - the second-longest drought in the league - and have won just two postseason series in franchise history.

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