The Phoenix Coyotes are used to difficult offseasons, but this one looked even trickier. On top of looking for an owner, as usual, the club ran the risk of looking for a new General Manager and head coach as well, as the contracts of both Dave Tippett and Don Maloney were set to expire on June 30.
There was some talk that neither would receive a new deal until the Coyotes had found an owner. But with the draft and free agency coming up, and Maloney being exactly the sort of guy you want to have around for that stuff, the NHL did what a good ownership group does, and took the steps to retain their guy.
On Friday, the Coyotes announced a long-term contract extension with Maloney. From their release:
"We are very pleased that Don has agreed to sign a long-term contract extension with the Coyotes," said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. "Since joining the team in 2007, Don has done an outstanding job managing his team and building a competitive roster that has produced on the ice, even given less than ideal circumstances off the ice. The NHL remains committed to securing the Coyotes' future in Glendale under new ownership, and we believe Don's long-term agreement evidences that he is equally committed."
[...] "I am grateful to continue working for this franchise," said Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney. "We have a strong core of talented people, both on and off the ice, who are committed to building a championship team and a first class organization. I would like to thank NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly for their tremendous support these past few years."
So weird to see Bettman and Daly in this release. This situation is ridiculous.
That part aside, it's tough to disagree with the move. As James Mirtle points out, over the last four years, the Coyotes' record of 156-96-42 makes them the eighth-best team in the NHL. That's definitely extension-worthy, especially under the circumstances.
Maloney is basically a wartime GM. He's acquitted himself nicely and done his part to keep Phoenix competitive in a dire, dire situation. And really, he was the best candidate for Phoenix anyway, since he's the only guy with four years experience GMing a team without an owner.