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Desire to coach still burns in Dave Tippett

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

CHICAGO — Dave Tippett was waiting to board an airplane on Friday morning in Chicago. For the first time in eight years, he was unemployed after parting ways with the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday in a structured buyout of the four remaining years of his contract.

“It’s kind of strange,” said Tippett, who was on his way back to Minnesota to do more repairs on his tornado-damaged summer home. “You do something so long, you get into a routine.”

It’s no secret Tippett didn’t like the way Shane Doan’s departure was handled and he didn’t like the Mike Smith trade, calling them “the really ugly parts of the business,” but those moves weren’t the impetus for leaving. He didn’t have a good working relationship with owner Andrew Barroway either, but Tippett didn’t want to delve too deeply into the reasons for his departure, choosing a high road of generalizations.

“I’ve been thinking about it for a while,” he said. “It’s just a combination of a lot of things and it came to a point where I thought I needed a change. Something inside tells you it’s time for a change.

“It was time for a fresh start.”

Tippett is a coach to his core and his mentality is to win now. The Coyotes haven’t been able to do that regularly for five seasons — the first three of those because they tried to hang onto a 2012 anomaly that could not be sustained; the last two because they finally embraced the rebuilding process.

Tippett appeared to be onboard with that process last season when IceArizona members such as Gary Drummond and George Gosbee still owned a portion of the team, but when faced with the losses of more key veterans, another season (or more) of rebuilding, an owner with whom he had no allegiance and perhaps a loss of control afforded with the previous regime, Tippett pulled the plug on an eight-year relationship that saw him post a 282-257-83 record with three playoff berths, two playoff series wins and a Western Conference Final berth in 2012.

“I was certainly hoping he was coming back for another season. Having said that, it wasn’t out of the blue necessarily, but you think that things can kind of work moving forward, but that’s life,” GM John Chayka said. “Sometimes they don’t work. It doesn’t mean I don’t love Tip and everything he brought to the organization. All his blood, sweat and tears he put into it. It was appreciated. And we’re trying to build off of that.”

Tippett’s immediate plans are simple.

“I’m going to step back, take a couple weeks, spend some time with my grandkids and see where things go,” he said. “I’ll be chopping wood for a while.”

Tippett still wants to coach. It’s in his blood and he said he still loves it, still burns for it.

Another opportunity could come as soon as next season, or perhaps he’ll take some time off. He said the $3 million reported amount of his buyout is inaccurate but he declined to provide numbers, saying only that he’s “happy with the situation.”

He cited the 2012 playoff run and the relationships he built as the highlights of his time coaching in Arizona, but as the Coyotes look to their future, he had a message for the fans that stuck with the team through ownership and arena trials that still persist.

“I think they’ve just got to stay with it,” he said. “There are going to be challenges but they have stockpiled some good young players and you have to allow them time to mature.”

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