On Monday, Arizona Coyotes named Xavier Gutierrez as their president and CEO. This is the first Latino team president and CEO in NHL history.

Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo announced Gutierrez’s hiring as he also made NHL history last year after buying a majority stake in the Coyotes last year.

Only a few days ago, a group of players from the NHL announced they had formed a Hockey Diversity Alliance focused on wiping out the systematic racism seen so often in the league. Although the group is not directly affiliated with the NHL, the league has also been focusing on fixing the many issues regarding race and diversity within the sport.

Meruelo, after knowing Gutierrez for over a decade, stated that Gutierrez’s business and investment experience, as well as his leadership abilities and mindset, will be an asset to the team’s future. He feels that they share similar approaches to business, making him a natural addition to the team.

Before his new position as team president and CEO, Gutierrez was the managing director at Clearlake Capital Group in Southern California and chief investment officer of the Meruelo Group, owned by Meruelo himself. He has specialized in investment management, corporate strategy, business development, and finance for over 20 years.

Changes Needed

The Coyotes needed a new CEO and president after Ahron Cohen left the team last year. Cohen served as CEO and president since 2017.

Hiring a Latino CEO could not have happened at a better time considering the amount of conversation surrounding racial injustice and inequality in the U.S. The NHL has faced controversy regarding racist comments or actions made by athletes or coaches, several times before.

There already isn’t much diversity within the league itself; this does not discount the few people of color who are team presidents or CEOs. Meruelo did not only make history last year by becoming the first Latino owner in the NHL, but he has also facilitated progress toward diversity.

Not only do Meruelo and Gutierrez plan to focus on reform within their team and the NHL, but they hope to cultivate the Arizona Coyotes into a winning team on and off the ice. Since they are both well-versed in business, the two hope to build a “world-class organization” and inspire others in the league to do the same.

Work To Do

One of Gutierrez’s first priorities is to expand the Coyotes’ fan base, as well as find a permanent home for the team. Annually, they have been ranked among the NHL’s worst teams in attendance. The Coyotes have had trouble establishing a permanent place of play and have been playing at Gila River Arena on a temporary basis.

Meruelo claims they have received offers in Phoenix, although they have also received an offer from Glendale to stay permanently there. Moving to Phoenix would be beneficial in terms of exposure and fans’ accessibility to games in the state’s most populated city.

As they hope to build a community around the Coyotes, Gutierrez and Meruelo want to make the best choice for their team, fans, and future.