There are very few coaches that a team could hire and expect immediate positive results. The late Pat Burns was one of them. Ken Hitchcock is one of them. So is Dave Tippett, which is why his situation is one of the most fascinating of the postseason and/or off-season.
Tippett has made the playoffs in eight of 10 seasons as a head coach in the NHL. His system turned the Phoenix Coyotes into a playoff team in three of four seasons, under inconceivable conditions with the franchise’s ownership mess.
That mess has ridiculously spread into the middle of 2013. Tippett and GM Don Maloney have their contracts up this summer, and the coach struck an ominous tone in his postseason comments:
“The ownership situation has to play out before then. I’d like to stay with this group. But that being said, it just needs some stability.
"There will be a conclusion to it. Whether it’s with the ownership or my situation, there’s going to be a conclusion. There's gonna be some clarity to it one way or the other this year, because if it gets to July 1 and there's no owner, I'm without a contract. I'm gonna coach somewhere next year. I hope it's here. But I'm gonna coach somewhere next year. I hope.”
There are currently two openings in the NHL coaching ranks, both in the Western Conference: The Dallas Stars and the Colorado Avalanche.
Would Tippett leave the Coyotes for one of them?
Tippett, fired by the Stars in 2009, has spent the past four seasons with the Coyotes. He is not under contract for next season and it's unknown what his future in Phoenix holds; it's expected that the Stars could look to Tippett to return to the team and help bring back the success he enjoyed for the better part of the 2000's with Dallas. The question is whether Tippett's defensive system will every be successful enough in the postseason, where his Coyotes also struggled.
Dave Tippett, whose contract with the troubled team expires June 30, is currently in Europe, serving as an assistant coach for Canada at the World Championship, and probably wondering where he will coach in the NHL next season.
The Avalanche has got to be an option, particularly when Canadian centers Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly of the Avs serve as constant reminders that Colorado has a solid young team and is in need of a coach. In my mind — and others who I have discussed it with — Tippett would be a home-run hire for the Avalanche.
The Avs would like to see if Dave Tippett will be available. The Phoenix coach’s contract runs out June 30. Tippett could have a bidding war for his services this summer, between the Avs, Stars, Coyotes and maybe others. He is a highly prized coach.
Maybe the same applies to Lindy Ruff, but not as much as Tippett I don’t think. But Ruff is a viable candidate. He has all the checkmarks Joe Sakic is looking for, most especially experience and a knowledge of the league. He cannot be dismissed.
Of the two gigs, Colorado might be more appealing. There are more pieces in place there than in Dallas, which is entering a rebuild. Although the familiarity in Dallas – and Jim Nill as a GM – will be hard to deny for Tippett.
Phoenix needs to secure an owner and the first piece of business is to sign Tippett and Maloney to long term deals. Depending on the owner there should be many options for the 51 yr old Tippett. There will most likely be 4-5 teams who will toss their hat into the ring for Tippett. He is very defense oriented and methodical coach. He hasn’t had too much talent in Phoenix to work with. Again ownership solves a lot of that. Then Free Agents can be acquired.
Phoenix Coyotes Coach Tippett is truly a major reason why this franchise has had the success in the last few years and maybe even stayed in Arizona.
This obviously comes down to the Coyotes’ ownership situation, and whether Tippett’s pleased with the resolution of this embarrassing ordeal. He clearly likes it in Glendale, and has a great working relationship with Maloney. But there are matters out of his control that could dictate his future.
How many teams in the NHL would drop their current GM/Coach combo for Maloney and Tippett?