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Phoenix Coyotes’ Paul Bissonnette helps the homeless

Paul Bissonnette of the Phoenix Coyotes is known for his fighting on the ice and his chirping on social media, but this tough guy has a soft heart for the homeless.

Paul Bissonnette has been with the Coyotes since 2009.

Paul Bissonnette has been with the Coyotes since 2009. Photo courtesy bridgetds. Flickr.

Bissonnette can be found spending his free time helping the homeless of Arizona. For the past two seasons, he hosted families from Central Arizona Shelter Services at Phoenix Coyotes games.

“Paul wanted to help others get to a game that would not have the opportunity otherwise,” Kimberly Trichel said over email. Trichel is the Director of the Community Relations department for the Phoenix Coyotes.

According to Trichel, Bissonnette invited families to attend the game and the Phoenix Coyotes organization provided transportation as well as food and drink vouchers. Bissonnette met the families after the game.

“CASS has been a partner for years and we are happy to work with them to get a group of families out to a game and give them a night to have fun.”

As he travels around the League for each game, he often talks about his encounters with the homeless on his social media accounts.

Last season, he won the Gila River Casinos Man of the Year Award for his work in the community. The award is one of the team awards presented at the end of each season.

When asked if there will be another game this season, Trichel said, “we will do it again this year — date is still TBD and Paul is always willing to help out when he can.”

Bissonnette also works with Sauce Hockey for the charity The Healthy Scratch Foundation.

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The Paw Patrol’s philanthropic presence in Phoenix communities

People always see them cheering on the Phoenix Coyotes and interacting with fans, but there is more to them than just smiling faces and pom poms. The Phoenix Coyotes Paw Patrol works with the team and charity group around the greater Phoenix area.

Whenever the Phoenix Coyotes are busy on the ice, the Paw Patrol takes over in the community. It does not matter what is happening around Phoenix, the Paw Patrol can be found visiting kids in the hospital or volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.

Since they are a well-known face of the team, they participated in a photo shoot and shared who they are and what they do for the Phoenix Coyotes organization.

Recently, the Paw Patrol and the players helped package and donate food at St. Mary’s Food Bank on behalf of Coyotes Charities.

Along with donating at St. Mary’s Food Bank, the Coyotes organization held a celebrity golf classic on Monday, November 18, to raise money for charity. Even though the Paw Patrol did not golf, they attended to show their support, like they do for many other events around the Valley.

These ambassadors for the Phoenix Coyotes also work with the other Arizona sports teams for various causes. Back in March 2013, the Paw Patrol worked with representatives of the other three major sports teams in Arizona for The 1st Annual Celebrity Bigs 4 Littles event.

The Paw Patrol is another bright spot for the Phoenix Coyotes organization because of their humanitarian ways they serve the community through Coyotes Charities.

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A look back at Play for the Gray

Concussion awareness is talked about all over the sports world. Earlier this year, former football players sued the NFL in relation to concussion issues. This case brought more attention to concussion awareness than there was before.

Boston Bruin player Patrice Bergeron was carried off the ice with a concussion after receiving a hit during a game in 2007. Photo courtesy Devon Ford. Flickr.

Boston Bruin player Patrice Bergeron was carried off the ice with a concussion after receiving a hit during a game in 2007. Photo courtesy Devon Ford. Flickr.

The concussion issue is no different for hockey, which is why the Phoenix Coyotes Alumni and NHL Players Association partnered to host the first annual Play for the Gray event in Scottsdale, Ariz., in February 2013.

Recently, the NHL Players Association announced there will be another Play for the Gray event during the 2013-14 season.

There is little information out about the event, so let’s take a look at what happened back in February.

Notable celebrities and former players converged at the Ice Den on February 15, 2013, to play for concussion awareness in hockey.

Program from the 2013 game at the Ice Den.

Program from the 2013 game at the Ice Den.

Some of the celebrities and players included Alan Thicke, Patrick O’Brien Demsey, Al Iafrate and Tyson Nash.

Luke Lapinski, a radio host for the Phoennix Coyotes, participated in the game and shared his experience on his blog.

Originally, this game was not meant to be NHL Alumni vs Phoenix Coyotes Alumni. When the NHL Players Association and celebrities looked for a location, they chose to have the game in Arizona because of the favorable weather during February.

When word got around about the event, a partnership was formed, turning the event into a way to raise money for concussion awareness. The proceeds primarily benefited the Coyotes Amateur Hockey Association and Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center, promoting hockey education and the new Concussion Center, as stated on the Play for Gray website.

As more information comes out, details will be shared at the NHL Players Association website.

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Coyotes Charities champions for Arizona communities

Photo courtesy Chris. Flickr.

Though Coyotes Charities is a branch of the Phoenix Coyotes, much of their work takes place away from Jobing.com Arena. Photo courtesy Chris. Flickr.

Not all heroes wear a mask and cape, canvasing the city for criminals plotting to take over the world.

Though it makes a good plot-line for films and novels, the more realistic heroes are found in your neighborhood, local gym, or the driver behind you at a red light. Coyotes Charities is one of these unconcealed forces, “enhancing the quality of life throughout Arizona communities,” according to the group’s Facebook page.

Neither Bruce Wayne nor Clark Kent lead the force to better Arizona: this is the work of ordinary people with extraordinary hearts.

Founded in 2002, Coyotes Charities advocates for the Phoenix Coyotes organization, as well as a promoter for other nonprofit parties around the valley. It is funded by the 50/50 raffle done at each Phoenix Coyotes game.

Those who volunteer on behalf of Coyotes Charities include players, the Phoenix Coyotes Paw Patrol, members of the staff and members of the community who collect the 50/50 raffle tickets.

Coyotes Charities donated $50,000 to Special Olympics Arizona, sponsoring them for the Special Olympic Winter Games back in 2009, according to the Phoenix Business Journal. The money donated helped the Flagstaff Mountaineers compete in the floor hockey portion of the games.

Photo courtesy GenBug. Flickr.

The 2009 Special Olympics took place in Boise, Idaho. Photo courtesy GenBug. Flickr.

Other than community work, the organization hands out an annual grant for other foundations benefiting the greater Phoenix area and nation. Recent grant recipients include Boy Scouts of America, Big Brother Big Sister of Central Arizona and Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

In “The Dark Knight,” Police Lt. James Gordon said, “…he’s [Batman] the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now.” Coyotes Charities is the hero Phoenix deserves and the one it needs right now.

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Gone but not forgotten — Phoenix Coyotes honor the Granite Mountain Hotshots

The Phoenix Coyotes salute fans after the scrimmage

The Phoenix Coyotes salute fans after the scrimmage.

The dichotomy of the Phoenix Coyotes for an intrasquad scrimmage united the team and community for a charitable cause: raising money for the families of the fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots.

Head coach Dave Tippett described the event as ” an unbelievable, successful night,” with more than 6,300 fans attending and a total of $165,198 donated. According to the Phoenix Coyotes official website, the owners, players and Phoenix Coyotes Alumni Association donated along with the fans.

The fan donations included the $5 ticket, a 50/50 raffle, and jersey auctions.

Doan during the post-game interview

Doan during the post-game interview.

Tippett had an emotional tie to the game: he volunteered as a firefighter in Canada as a teenager, according to a story on USA Today.

Defenseman Keith Yandle shared his impressions of the game, “Fun game to see all the fans come out and be supportive.” Yandle also has a connection to the firefighter community. His grandfather was a firefighter, which was shared in a Hockey News profile.

The night consisted of tribute video, a 60-minute scrimmage, a shootout and a check presentation to the families.

“It puts everything in perspective — the video and seeing the people,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan said at the end of the night. “Obviously it was nice to be able to contribute and help out in some way.”

Here is a video, courtesy of the Phoenix Coyotes, highlighting the event.

“Our players, fans and our organization should have a good feeling about helping somebody that goes out of their way to help us in the community,” Tippett commented. “Tonight was about giving back to the community and helping those families.”

Nineteen firefighters lost their lives in a wildfire in Yarnell, Ariz., on June 30.

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Phoenix Coyotes to give back to fallen heroes of Yarnell Hill Fire

Photo Courtesy of dagnyg. Flickr

Photo Courtesy of dagnyg. Flickr

One of the most beautiful things about sports is the unity formed in light of tragedy. In times of adversity, sports organizations rally behind the community. Nineteen Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite team of firefighters, died when the blaze they fought went beyond their control in Yarnell, Ariz., on June 30.

The Phoenix Coyotes are one of the several teams that gave condolences and donations to those affected. In addition, the team will play a benefit game on September 18 to raise money for the families of the fallen firefighters, according to a press release on the Phoenix Coyotes official website.

With the game approaching, many fans  voiced their feelings about the decision to have the game.

“It [the game] is a really good idea,” Jeff Gallen said. “They [the Coyotes organization] go out of their way to help people out. They are just really great people.” Gallen will be showing his support at the benefit game.

“It is humbling to see them do this for people who lost everything,” another fan said. “It shows what a great organization the Phoenix Coyotes is.” This fan will also attend the game, but requested anonymity.

“The Phoenix Coyotes are a good example of an organization that gives back to the community,” Heather Schroeder from the Phoenix Coyotes Booster Club said. “I respect them for what they do for the community.”

Along with the upcoming game, the team auctioned off a signed Taylor Swift jersey in July, with the proceeds going to the firefighters’ families.

The scrimmage will take place at Jobing.com Arena and starts at 7 p.m.