On Saturday the Arizona Coyotes inducted 9 year old Leighton Accardo into the Coyotes Ring of Honor joining Wayne Gretzky, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Teppo Numminen, Dale Hawerchuk, Thomas Steen and Bobby Hull from both Coyotes and Winnipeg Jets eras. Leighton is the first person who is not a former coach, player, general manager or broadcaster to be inducted into a Ring of Honor for any NHL team. Leighton Accardo sadly passed in November at the age of 9 after a long battle with cancer that saw her as a tremendous inspiration for her courage and determination in her fight against cancer.
In November of 2019 the Arizona Coyotes hosted the then 8 year old during Hockey Fights Cancer Night at Gila River Arena against the Calgary Flames. In May of that year Leighton was diagnosed stage 4 malignant germ cell tumors. During the pre-game ceremonies, this is where many including myself were introduced to Leighton and her story. Being in person with my then 5 year old son was an incredibly emotional time, especially for most with not many a dry eye as she captivated the crowd with her story. It is truly a moment that hits at the core for many whether a sports fan or not and was something I will never forget. A lasting impression of inspiration and determination in life from someone who fought their battle with a smile.
Leighton a hockey player herself with the Arizona Kachinas Hockey Association was signed to a contract for the day with the Coyotes and was involved in numerous aspects of the night before the game, during warm-ups and including the pre-game ceremony.
In one of the greatest yet ironically saddest moments in Coyotes history, the honoring of Leighton that night was capped off by Coyotes captain Oliver Ekmann-Larsson switching spots with Leighton for the ceremonial puck drop and Leighton swiping the puck quickly away with OEL’s stick from Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano for the win.
Leighton was more than a ceremonial signing for the team, Leighton was a Coyote and integral part of the franchise that can be seen in a variety of ways. From the Hockey Fights Cancer Night, Lyndsey Fry’s Skatin’ for Leighton, the Leighton Accardo Scholarship Fund, the Little Leightons hockey program, and so much more.
On Saturday, the Coyotes took the ice against the St. Louis Blues for Leighton’s Legacy Game. The night cemented her legacy in the history books and lives of not only the Arizona Coyotes but many in the hockey world as well. Her story of inspiration and determination will live on forever.
“Skate hard, have fun” – Leighton Accardo
The following are a variety of videos from the Arizona Coyotes social media that highlight many of the moments we got to see and share from Hockey Fights Cancer Night to last night’s Legacy Game: