With due respect to John Tortorella, Lindy Ruff, Alain Vigneault, Dallas Eakins, Paul Maurice, John Stevens and the rest of the NHL’s coaching vacancy candidates:
You’re not Dave Tippett.
The Phoenix Coyotes coach, whose contract expires on July 1, would be coveted by the Vancouver Canucks, Dallas Stars (his old squad) and the New York Rangers if he became available.
So will he become available?
His recent chat with Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic puts it squarely at “maybe.”
The Coyotes have helped their cause by locking up [GM Don] Maloney into a long-term contract because Maloney is responsible for negotiating with Tippett. The two have discussed the details of a new deal, but it won’t be considered until there’s more ownership clarity.
“It’s a bit like a player in the last year of his contract,” Tippett said. “There’s times you’d probably like to sign, but you’re not sure if you’re going to sign. That’s kind of where it is right now.”
Tippett hasn’t decided whether he’d take a one-year contract if it becomes clear the Coyotes will last in Glendale for at least that time. And yet, the Coyotes are his top choice. “I haven’t thought about moving yet,” he said. “… If Phoenix offers me a contract and it looks like we’re going to keep moving in the right direction, then I’ll look at it.”
For Tippett, the concern seems to be less about the stability of the franchise as it pertains to relocation, and more about the franchise’s ability to acquire the skill players necessary to compete in the Western Conference.
For example: Ray Whitney was the leading scorer for Tippett when the Coyotes advanced to the conference final last season, and was top three in the previous season.
He signed with the Dallas Stars in Summer 2012, and cited the NHL’s ownership of the team as the reason:
“Not having an owner, trying to go to the National Hockey League to get approval on a contract like I got, which I’m assuming Don has to do, it’s not necessarily Don saying no. It’s Don fighting to get the dollar where he wants it, but it’s the league saying, ‘We’re not giving a 40-year-old a two-year contract,’” Whitney said.
“Bill Daly and those guys aren’t really out here on a day-to-day basis watching games. They’re just saying, ‘He’s 40, and we’re not giving it to him.’ I would guess.”
The Coyotes ownership saga continues to stumble forward, reaching its fourth anniversary last month. As usual, optimism is undercut by pessimism and, in some cases, the harsh reality of the situation.
Meanwhile, the clock ticks on Dave Tippett, who will have to weight comfort and loyalty with the ability of his employer to give him the tools to win.