Let's talk about Dave Tippett.
There have been some comments the head coach has made recently that cast doubt on Tippett's place in a rebuilding organzation. Indeed, one of the chief criticisms of Tippett among some fans is that Tippett is unwilling to give young players significant time in the NHL. These critics look to the way Tippett played Kyle Turris and Mikkel Boedker in their early years on the team and wonder if the organization is going to let Tippett go after the season ends.
I don't think that's the case here. The ownership group seems content to let General Manager Don Maloney do what he needs to do to reset the Coyotes. Dave Tippett was Don Maloney's first, and only, coaching hire in Arizona. I've seen or heard nothing to suggest that Maloney has any intent to replace Tip. Same goes for the ownership group.
And of course, the other matter is finding someone else to replace Tippett once he's fired. Dan Bylsma might be one possibility, but his services will likely be in high demand this summer, and he didn't develop Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin so much as he inherited them.
Former Edmonton Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins might be another possibility. His tenure in Edmonton was a short and turbulent one, but he was hired because he supposedly had a knack for working with younger players. With a more stable (and arguably, more competent) front office, maybe he gets it right the second time around. Maybe.
In either case, a new hire comes with a lot of big question marks. And there's little reason to believe either of them could have done better with the team Tippett has this year, or will do better with a future team.
Ultimately, the only person I think who decides if Dave Tippett doesn't at least start the rebuild with the Coyotes is Dave Tippett himself. This is uncharted territory for the coach, who has never had a team finish below 4th in the division. Perhaps Tippett doesn't have the stomach to embark on a painful rebuild.
But that would imply Dave Tippett is quitting on the team. And as much as he may not like losing, I think Tippett hates quitting more.
- Craig Morgan of Fox Sports Arizona had a great piece last weekend about the Coyotes' need for short-term center solutions. Check it out.
- Per the article, It doesn't sound like Mark Arcobello figures into the plan for the Coyotes, and it also sounds like a center would be picked up via trade, not free agency.
- Arizona has more than a few pieces to make that happen for a cap-strapped team. Four first rounders in the next two years, two second rounders this year, and two third rounders this year could make a trade at the Draft a possibility.
- The Coyotes could also include a player like Brandon Gormley to lessen the logjam on defense that has resulted from the arrival of Klas Dahlbeck and John Moore.
- I don't think Arizona is in a hurry to offload Gormley, despite his stints in the press box of late. But a young, talented defenseman still on his ELC would be a nice prize for a team to pick up.
- Even if Arizona wins the Draft Lottery, I don't think Don Maloney wants his first and second line centers to both be rookies. Putting Connor McDavid on the wing while he adjusts to the NHL and acquiring a more veteran presence down the middle would solve that problem.
- Dan Bickley's recent column on the Coyotes is drawing the usual amount of ire from fans. One particular point on contention is the fact that majority owner Andrew Barroway has not met with Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers.
- Sure, it'd be nice if Mr. Barroway introduced himself or something, but really, the lease agreement is not getting changed. Glendale is not going to give up what revenue it is already getting (especially since it's coming in below projections), and the Coyotes are not going to tweak that out-clause. Nothing to see here, nothing to do here.
- When it comes to reports on the Coyotes' financials, my advice is this: don't buy it, positive or negative. It's not hard to make accounting spreadsheets say what the viewer wants them to say, and since outsiders are highly unlikely to ever get to scrutinize them, taking anyone's word for it, including the ownership group, is just not worth the mental exercise.
- Is Mike Smith turning a corner? Smith's last three games have been pretty good. He's posted +.930 save percentages in every single one of them, despite only getting one win. Is he finally getting his game together or will he be plagued by another stretch of bad games soon?
- Which new Coyote will score first? Both Klas Dahlbeck and Tye McGinn were credited with the same goal in the Vancouver game before it was (correctly) given to B.J. Crombeen. So all four newcomers have yet to score in Sedona Red. Who will be first? And will it happen this season?
- Will Brandon Gormley draw in? Arizona plays three games this week, and doesn't have a back-to-back situation until early-April. With they way they've played recently, when does Gormley get into the lineup again?
Player to Watch
Sam Gagner has now tied Oliver Ekman-Larsson for the team scoring lead at 32 points. He's five points away from matching his total last year and 15 points away from his career best. He will have plenty of chances the rest of the way to get to both.