A year ago it was the captain.
This summer it’s the goaltender. It’s the head coach. It’s even the general manager.
And yes, there is still that matter of ownership, which remains unsettled going on four years.
“I didn’t think there was any chance that it could go for four years, but it has,” said the captain, Shane Doan, who prior to the season signed a four-year extension.
The contracts of goalie Mike Smith, coach Dave Tippett and GM Don Maloney all expire in July.
For Maloney, hired in 2007, that would appear to make his job of retooling the team — four points out of a playoff spot, missing the postseason for the first time in four years — more difficult.
“Well, they’re still paying me, so that’s one good thing,” Maloney joked Sunday. “We’re still paid to do a job. Until that stops, then we’re going to do the job.”
One of Maloney’s best decisions during his six-year tenure was to hire Tippett.
In four years, he has rewarded Maloney and the Coyotes’ fan base with 156 regular season wins and three postseason appearances, including a trip to the Western Conference Finals.
Tippett, 51, would certainly be a hot commodity on the open market.
“If it gets to July 1st and there’s no owner, then I’m without a contract,” he said. “I’m going to coach somewhere next year. I hope it’s here but I’m going to coach somewhere next year.”
Smith’s two-year run between the pipes is also nearing an end unless a new contract is signed.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said as he and his teammates cleaned out their lockers at Jobing.com Arena.
“Obviously, the ownership has a big influence on that. I think if there was an owner at this point, I think we’d be talking a little bit differently right now; but unfortunately it hasn’t happened yet. We’ll just see how it plays out.
“I’d love to,” Smith said when asked if he wanted to return. “I’ve had a great couple of years here. I think we have a great group of guys in this locker room, great coaching staff. I feel with an owner and some stability around here, it can only get better.”
See, everything comes back to ownership.
“You could replay the tape last year and the year before and the year before,” Maloney said. “We have to have it settled. The positive thing I think for Arizona hockey fans is that it will be settled. We still remain hopeful that it will work out here.”