The Coyotes on Thursday announced details for the Matt Shott Celebration of Life, to be held on Jan. 5 at Gila River Arena on honor of the team's Vice President of Hockey Development who recently passed away after a battle with cancer.
The team invites the public to attend the event, which will be from 3 to 5 p.m.. Shott was a major force in promoting and coaching youth hockey in the Valley and helping grow the game for girls, among his other endeavors that meant a great deal to the local hockey community.
“Matt was an amazing person who was loved, admired and respected by everyone in the Valley’s hockey community,” said Coyotes President & CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez in a statement from the team. “He was kind, generous and selfless and had a positive impact on so many people’s lives. We look forward to celebrating Matt’s incredible life with his family, friends and loved ones and promise to keep his memory alive.”
The Coyotes will remember Shott with several video tributes and speakers including Gutierrez, NHL Youth Hockey Regional Director Sean Whyte, Coyotes Chief Hockey Development Officer Shane Doan and Coyotes Senior Director of Hockey Development Business Strategy Lyndsey Fry.
Carly Accardo, whose young daughter Leighton became a beloved part of the Coyotes family after Shott and Fry made the team aware of Leighton's own fight with cancer, is also scheduled to speak, as is Trevor Shott, Matt's younger brother.
Fry said a traditional church service for Matt didn't seem to make much sense.
"Hockey's his religion and the rink is his church," Fry said. "We figured we needed to do it at a rink, and Gila just made sense, obviously because he's worked there for the last decade, but also given the impact that he made on the community, it's probably the only rink in town that can hold everybody who wants to be there."
Fry said she and the Shott family didn't want to wait too long to hold a celebration of Matt's life, and that people who work in every department of the Coyotes organization have pitched in to help make it happen.
Fry said attendees are welcome to wear hockey jerseys at the event, in a show of the same love of hockey that Shott had.
"He would want a rockin' party. He wouldn't want some somber, sad thing," Fry said. "It's just going to be all about him. We want to make sure it's as special as possible for him, his family, his hockey family and just an opportunity to come together."
Shott's loss hit everyone in the organization hard, from those very close to him, like Fry, to the Coyotes coaches and players. A stick leaned up against a wall outside the Coyotes locker room has a Shott T-shirt over it, the same shirt fans had the opportunity to purchase in a ticket package on Hockey Fights Cancer Night in November, when the team paid tribute to Shott and his work.
"Everybody who talked to me about Matt said he was someone special, and with us, that's the way he was," Coyotes head coach André Tourigny said, recalling when Shott got to fulfill his dream of being an NHL coach and work with the Coyotes staff on the ice and in meetings earlier this season. "He was really bright, really smart, he was kind with everybody and had a big heart. He was so passionate about what he was doing and what he was doing with his (youth) teams. It was really good for us to have him around."
Guests attending the event may park in Lot G and enter Gila River Arena at Gate 4 beginning at 2:30 pm. Seating will be available throughout the lower bowl of the arena.
A fund in Shott's honor, the Matt Shott Memorial Hockey Development Fund, is also accepting donations, which can be found on the Coyotes' website. Money raised will benefit the Coyotes’ youth hockey programs in Arizona.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona Coyotes announce public event in honor of the late Matt Shott