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Arizona Coyotes honor 9-year-old who died of cancer with historic tribute

  • April 17, 2021

died at age 9 last November after a long battle with cancer, was beloved by the Coyotes’ players, coaches and staff from when she first spent time around the team.”Skatin’ For Leighton” happened on a sunny day in February, the money raised to help girls afford to play hockey far surpassing the target amount Fry had hoped to reach. 

The Ring of Honor ceremony will happen prior to the Coyotes-Blues game. Leighton Accardo will join Wayne Gretzky and former Coyotes/Jets franchise players Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Teppo Numminen, Dale Hawerchuk, Thomas Steen and Bobby Hull in the club’s Ring of Honor. 

“This is incredibly special to this organization. This is a celebration of life,” Coyotes President and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez said. “What often happens in sports is that people change your life. And that’s what Leighton did. She inspired us, she brought us together. She created hope, and she brought joy. When we think about her and what she meant to us, it was only fitting that we would ask her family to allow us to honor her. Not just about her and her life and her name, but of what she stood for.”

The Coyotes had planned to play hockey with Leighton and her brothers and sister before she died. The team still honored that commitment when they learned cancer had taken her. 

Months prior, Leighton had been in New York getting treatment a few days before meeting the Coyotes, and still found the strength to get on the ice and play a little with players Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Lawson Crouse, head coach Rick Tocchet recalled.

“Very unpleasant treatments, and for her to come in there smiling and laughing and grabbing a puck and playing on the ice after what she went through, those are the moments you reflect on,” Tocchet said. “That’s the stuff I’ll think about (Saturday) when her jersey goes up in the rafters.”

Get in touch with Jose Romero at Find him on Twitter at @RomeroJoseM. 

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