The first order of business for the Phoenix Coyotes this offseason was retaining Don Maloney as general manager.
The architect for one of the most successful stretches in the franchise’s history, it was imperative that he be back to continue what he started.
With that out of the way, it is now Maloney’s task to keep other integral pieces around, namely head coach Dave Tippett.
“That’s number one on our plate,” Maloney told Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo of what he’s looking to do now. “Try and find a way to make him comfortable.
“And you know what? If you think about Tipp and his status right now, he’s certainly a hot commodity.”
Things are certainly different than when Tippett took over as Coyotes coach, as he joined the team on September 24, 2009, with the regular season opener less than two weeks away. He replaced an ineffective Wayne Gretzky and guided the team to a 28-point improvement over the previous season, which culminated in a playoff berth as well as a Jack Adams Coach of the Year Award.
“There’s openings for head coaches, he’s one of the best,” Maloney said.
Indeed, the coach who guided the Coyotes to a 156-96 record along with three consecutive playoff appearances — as well as a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2012 — will be coaching somewhere next season.
Like nearly everyone else, Maloney would like to make sure it is not somewhere new, though convincing the 51-year-old that the team will have some stability going forward with regards to ownership. That would, in turn, lead to stability with the roster, and what coach wouldn’t want that?
“Hopefully in the weeks ahead our ownership becomes a little clearer and he has a little more comfort to sign back up with us.”
Then again, as Maloney tells it, it appears Tippett is not terribly interested in exploring other options, at least not yet.
“He said ‘I won’t talk to anybody, I don’t plan to,'” Maloney said. “We have a very close relationship. I’m not going to hold anything back from him.”
Maloney said the coach’s goal is to stay in the Valley because, like the GM himself, he feels “like I do, a responsibility to this team.”
The general manager said he does not blame his head coach for wanting to see what happens with ownership before making a decision, but added he’s not ready to let opposing teams talk with Tippett in the meantime.
“He has no interest in talking to anybody right now, I certainly won’t allow anyone to talk to him right now,” he said. “Our goal is to get him signed and I remain optimistic that will happen.”