It’s a foregone conclusion that if the owner-less Coyotes allow coach Dave Tippett to reach the end of his contract on June 30, he will have plenty of suitors.
Well, the line is already forming. Denver Post columnist Mike Chambers called Tippett a potential “home-run hire” who has already been discussed for the Colorado Avalanche post. The Avs fired Joe Sacco after a third straight season without a playoff berth.
Tippett has repeatedly made it plain he wants to remain in Phoenix, where he and his wife, Wendy, just built a home. But the Coyotes’ continued ownership saga, and the low-budget restraints it has placed on him and soon-to-be free agent GM Don Maloney over the past four seasons have reached a boiling point because both are tired of entering each season with an undermanned roster.
“We have a lot of players that work hard — in the guts of the game, they’re good players,” Tippett said recently. “But at some point, we need some difference-makers.”
One thing the Coyotes have always lacked in Tippett’s tenure is a top-tier center. The Avs have plenty in Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly and Paul Stastny (although Stastny could be traded). Duchene and O’Reilly are actually playing for Tippett with Team Canada right now, affording Tippett a first-hand look at some of the Avs’ potential talent.
The Avs likely wouldn’t be the only team pursuing him. Vancouver’s Alain Vigneault could be fired after a second consecutive first-round playoff exit, and there could be other openings in the coming weeks.
Tippett is currently coaching Team Canada in the World Championships in Europe, but he did respond via text message to a query about the Post column.
“I have not and will not talk to any other organization until my contract has expired,” he wrote. “I am still hopeful there is a resolution in Phoenix.”
If there is not by July 1, however, Tippett has made it clear he will do what he must.
“Obviously, they have to have an ownership in place here,” he said. “If a new owner comes in and says, ‘Hey, we’re going to continue to build this,’ I’d love to talk to him, but if there’s nobody in place by July 1, I have to look at other options.
“I’m not ready to retire yet. I’m going to be coaching somewhere next year.”