GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Coyotes will take the extraordinary step of inducting Leighton Accardo into the team's ring of honor this weekend.
The 9-year-old with the bright smile and tenacity of a hockey player became an inspiration to the team during her fight against cancer.
She will become the first person in NHL history who is not a former player, coach, general manager, or broadcaster to be inducted into a team's ring of honor.
Her name will up alongside NHL Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Hull inside Gila River Arena, The Associated Press reported.
Leighton died in November, but her memory and connection to the organization will live on.
The AP reported that the Coyotes played a game of street hockey outside Leighton's family’s home in her honor the day she died.
On Feb. 21, Lyndsey Fry, the Coyotes’ director of external engagement and female hockey, rollerbladed 96 miles, hitting all seven Phoenix-area ice rinks before ending back up at Gila River Arena.
According to the NHL, Fry raised $49,000, which went towards a scholarship in Leighton’s name to assist girls interested in playing hockey in Arizona.
In 2019, the Coyotes signed Leighton to a contract.
This season, players have worn "LA49 decals on their helmets. Before Saturday's game, they'll wear "Leighton 49" warm-up jerseys, which will be auctioned off, with the proceeds going to her scholarship fund, The AP reported.