GLENDALE, Ariz. — We told you after the season that Dave Tippett’s future with the Coyotes was secure and he might sign an extension with the team. That didn’t stop some North American outlets from speculating on which teams might pursue Arizona’s coach.
The Coyotes put that conjecture to bed on Thursday when they announced that Tippett had signed a five-year contract that replaces his old deal and runs through the 2020-21 season. President and CEO Anthony LeBlanc also announced that Tippett would add the title of executive vice president of hockey operations.
The announcements came at a press conference to confirm the promotion of John Chayka to general manager. LeBlanc also said co-owner Gary Drummond has added the title of Coyotes president of hockey operations and the team would add an assistant general manager from a pool of candidates still active in the playoffs (sources said Stars assistant GM Les Jackson is still a possibility).
“Everything that has been said here today; just the vision from ownership to John to our new management team moving forward were huge factors in the decision to sign a new contract,” Tippett said. “Just to see the excitement within the organization and where it’s going, it’s an honor to be a part of that.
“I feel like I bring some coaching experience, some experience of being in the league between a player and minor league management, so I’m very excited to work with everybody in the group. There’s a lot of positives in this organization right now and I feel a bunch more coming.”
Tippett was on the razor’s edge after the 2014-15 season in which he endured a poorly-constructed roster and its subsequent, 56-point showing. He had an out-clause in his contract, based on the change in majority ownership to Andrew Barroway, that he could have exercised this summer. With the progress the team made on the ice last season and the restructuring of the management team (which included firing GM Don Maloney), however, Tippett is planning a big role in the team’s future.
“We have a collaboration of a group between John and myself and Gary,” Tippett said. “I feel really good about the people we’re talking about to come in and help the group, too.”
It had been assumed that Tippett would take a greater role in personnel decisions before Thursday’s announcement, and Tippett acknowledged that is the case, but he said there are limits to what he will do.
“Just to be involved a little more in the player personnel and the blueprint of the style of team we want; the kind of players we want in each slot,” he said. “It will be nothing to do with the Draft or anything like that. I want to deal with the pro side and deal with our team.”
Drummond said he is not concerned with Tippett being overextended because of the additional duties.
“He has made a decision that he loves coaching, that he doesn’t want to give up coaching and coaching is his first priority, but I think he also welcomes not having a wall between coaches and the management,” Drummond said. “Sometimes the energy you expend to be part of building something is less than the energy you expend by being frustrated at not being included.”
There have been many unknowns hanging over Tippett in his time in Arizona — from under-stocked rosters to lack of ownership to recent issues with Maloney that were shared by the ownership group. There is one very large issue still hanging in the balance. The Coyotes don’t know where they will be playing after next season when their lease at Gila River Arena expires, but Tippett does not sound concerned.
“I think those things will get taken care of,” he said. “That, along with the Tucson (AHL move) thing. It’s going to take a while for them all to come to fruition but if it goes the way I hope it goes it could really be a very positive situation.”
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