The Arizona Coyotes presented “NHL Bound”, the documentary following their former trainee coaches Duanté Abercrombie and Nathaniel BrooksThursday at the Footprint Center, with Suns and Coyotes staff and community members in attendance.
The third installment of the film was released to the public on Thursday, with another next week. The docuseries has also been picked up by ESPN Plus and can now be streamed there.
Those in attendance at the Footprint Center were able to view the film in its entirety and hear from director Kwamé Damon Mason, Coyotes President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez and Coyotes General Manager Bill Armstrong.
Gutierrez said the organization wanted to show the film in a more centralized location in the area to invite people who might not be hockey fans or might never have attended a game.
“We’ve created this new alliance between all of the other professional sports teams here in the Valley to really support and really amplify the efforts that we’re all doing to make a difference in our community,” Gutierrez said.
With that in mind, the Suns agreed to host the screening of the film.
Gutierrez also said the internship program for various coaches will return next offseason.
“We’re already planning what we’re going to do for our next development camp and who we’re going to invite,” Gutierrez said. “We started talking with the NHL Coaches Association to identify other candidates, and more importantly, I think we inspired other teams and invited them to be part of this effort as well, to their way. For us, it’s not It’s about us opening doors and really encouraging and inspiring others to really leverage the platforms they have to provide opportunities for so many talented people who just need that this door is open.
Gutierrez asked Mason what concrete steps the Coyotes could take to promote diversity and inclusion in the NHL, and Mason suggested the coaching internship. Mason had two guys in mind, Abercrombie and Brooks.
Gutierrez received an immediate boost from Armstrong, who contacted head coach André Tourigny, and within a day the camp was launched.
“It was never a hesitation,” Gutierrez said.
Armstrong recalled being asked by the Boston Bruins to be a guest coach as he tried to work his way into the game after his playing days. He had this thought while lending his support for the internship.
Mason originally pitched his idea to the Seattle Kraken, who loved it, but when the pandemic shut things down, he didn’t hear from the expansion team. It was the Coyotes who responded to his idea.
“There’s been this stigma against the Coyotes for a little while, but it’s something they can literally be proud of, something they’re doing that’s really changing the face of hockey,” Mason said. “The reception has been tremendous and I think the Coyotes will be one of those teams that are at the forefront of changing the way hockey is viewed.
Armstrong said both coaches are “great people” who are well-qualified and willing to learn, and he said it was a special moment to be able to reunite with them at the NHL All-Star Game in Las Vegas earlier this this month.
One of the most poignant scenes in the film is when Abercrombie, after coaching one of the Coyotes’ prospect teams in a scrimmage at Gila River Arena, tells Brooks he’s not yet ready to return home to Washington DC now that he’s had a taste of coaching in the NHL.
Both currently coach college programs, Brooks in Toronto.
“I always had this thought process to educate them and let them go back to their field and then try to help them move on and take the next step,” Armstrong said. “They both reached out and we had great conversations about what’s next for them. That’s the goal, is to help them get to the NHL, whether it’s with our team or another team. need to take the next steps in their education and move up the ladder.”