Coyotes GM Maloney: ‘We will have a hockey team’

Arizona Sports News online

The Phoenix Coyotes are 230-172-56 since Don Maloney took over the leadership reigns.

Phoenix has also gone to the Stanley Cup playoffs three times and made one appearance in the Western Conference Finals under Maloney.

Never mind the fact that the team still has no ownership in place. It was imperative that they locked Maloney down, which they did on Friday, signing him to a long-term extension.

This would seem to be a step in the right direction as far as future ownership and the Coyotes staying in Arizona is concerned. You would think Maloney re-upping for the long haul means that the Coyotes are staying in Glendale, Ariz., but things are still in the air.

NHL executives, along with one of the Coyotes potential owners – Renaissance Sports & Entertainment – are meeting with Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers this week to try and hammer out an arena management and lease deal for Arena.

“We’re going to look at what they’re wanting to do and see what the council wants to do and go from there,” Weiers said after Tuesday’s meeting.

Maloney maintains him re-signing with the team has no tie-ins with what could happen as a result of these meetings.

“One had nothing to do with the other,” Maloney said. “If you think it through, we will have a hockey team, [but] you need a manager in place to start building the organization.”

“For my own personal situation, it made sense to me,” Maloney said.

Maloney met with one of the lead ownership groups this past Saturday, and it was a “positive” meeting in Maloney’s words.

“We really just have to let it play out,” Maloney said. “Realistically, you pretty much understand where we’re gonna be if nothing changes, but I expect that to be a little clearer [soon].”

What is clear to Maloney at this present moment is keeping head coach Dave Tippett and goalie Mike Smith in-house.

Tippett’s contract expires on June 30. He has the highest winning percentage (.616) of any head coach in franchise history.

Tippett’s also never had a losing season as head coach of any NHL franchise. In other words, he can pretty much punch his own ticket to whatever team he so desires.

“We have to work and see if we can come to some understanding that makes him confident enough to sign here with us,” Maloney said. “We’re going to do everything in our power to make that happen.”

Smith is No. 2 on Maloney’s to-do list. Smith is looking for the big contract he feels he deserves (and we all know he so deserves one!), but he’s not quite sure Maloney and the Coyotes are the ones to give it to him.

“Obviously, I’d like to know where I stand in this whole thing, and the stability of this franchise has a huge impact on that,” Smith recently told the Arizona Republic. “I don’t think Don’s in a position right now, with no ownership, to have the authority to sign a deal like that.”

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly thinks the ownership situation with the Coyotes would hinder any type of deal they might make with Smith.

“I wouldn’t agree there are any real limitations on the club’s ability to re-sign Mike Smith, other than those that are related to the team’s overall budget – which is the same situation that most, if not all, clubs deal with on a regular basis,” Daly told the Arizona Republic.

Maloney feels once the ownership situation is resolved, that will then help out in the coming negotiations with Smith and his agent.

“If we don’t [re-sign Smith], then we’re going to find the next very good goaltender,” Maloney said.

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