In five days, the Phoenix Coyotes will finally be headed back onto the ice for something other than training. But, it was months ago that head coach Dave Tippett started the preparations for his fifth season with the Coyotes franchise. During Tippett's tenure, the Coyotes have made playoffs three out of four years, including a run to the Western Conference Final, where the Yotes suffered a tough loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
The 52-year-old's NHL career started in the 1983-1984 season when he signed as a free-agent with the Hartford Whalers (now the Carolina Hurricanes). While there, the left-winger was a leading scorer and helped the Whalers win the Adams Division (now the Atlantic Division) for the first and only time in 1987. In Sept. 1990, Tippett was traded to the Washington Capitals, by this point his numbers had fallen considerably and he found himself drifting between teams on one-year contract deals in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
When his contract ended with Philly, his coaching career began. Tippett signed on as a player-assistant coach with the Houston Aeros for the 1994-1995 season in the International Hockey League. At the end of the season, he announced his playing retirement and took on the role of assistant coach. This, however, didn't last long and after a bad start to the season, Tipp was promoted to head coach. During his time with the Aeros, he lead the team to three consecutive playoff berths and won IHL championship his final season with the team.
In 1999, Tippett accepted a job with the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach and on May 16, 2002 was named the Dallas Stars' new head coach after helping the Kings make playoff three years straight. The Canadian's return to Texas wasn't quite as triumphant as his first experience, though the team made the playoffs five out of six season (including one trip to the Western Conference Finals), Tippett was fired after a lackluster performance in the 2008-2009 season.
Then came Sept. 24, 2009. In 24-hours, Wayne Gretzky resigned as coach of the Phoenix Coyotes and Dave Tippett was named his successor. That first season, Tipp lead the team to their first playoff spot since the 2001-2002 season. Though the Yotes lost in the first round in a seven game series to the Detroit Red Wings, Tippett still took home the Jack Adams Award for NHL Coach of the Year.
The next season resulted in another first round loss to the Wings, this time a four-game sweep. Then, the Western Conference Final.
The lockout season found the Dogs out in the cold for the first time during Tippett's tenure. So far, all signs point to another great season out of Tippett. With key players like Mike Smith and Mikkel Boedker locked into place and acquisitions like Mike Ribeiro, it seems likely that the man who almost became Team Canada's Olympic coach might just find himself once more in the big show this June.