Less than four months after being fired as coach of the Dallas Stars, the 48-year-old was hired as Wayne Gretzky's replacement as bench boss of the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday.
Coyotes GM Don Maloney made the announcement after Gretzky announced his resignation earlier in the day. Gretzky had coached the team the previous four seasons.
"Looking around the League and looking around to see who was available, there was really only one person that I thought was the ideal fit, and that's Dave Tippett," Maloney said at a press conference at Jobing.com Arena. "I've always liked the way Dave's teams played. They're structured, they're disciplined, they work … I think the measure of a coach is getting the most out of your players and preparing them for a chance to win every night. We need to have success, and we think we're at a situation now to take advantage of Wayne's work and carry that forward."
Tippett coached the Stars for the last six seasons, leading the club to five playoff appearances, two division titles and a trip the 2008 Western Conference Finals. His teams averaged 47 wins over his first five seasons, and notched more than 100 points on three occasions. In 492 games, Tippett is 271-156-37 with 28 ties. In 47 playoff games, he is 21-26.
2008-09 SEASON STATS
(13TH WEst/25th NHL)
|Change from 2007-08||+4|
(10TH WEst/21ST NHL)
(15TH WEst/29th NHL)
"It's a special day for me," Tippett said. "When Donnie first called me a couple of weeks ago, he kind of explained the situation here and where he thought the team was and where he thought it could get to. Right when he called, I was very intrigued. I know the team very well from playing against them in the division for so many years. The chance to come and build something was very exciting for me. That's why I'm here."
Gretzky, also the team's director of hockey operations, quit after four seasons with the club. The Coyotes went 143-161-24 under Gretzky and missed the playoffs all four seasons. Phoenix hasn't been to the postseason since 2002. The club seemed to be taking a step in the right direction last season, sitting fifth in the Western Conference at the All-Star break, but they lost nine of their first 10 games after the break and finished 13th in the conference.
There was no word on whether Gretzky, who joined the club in 2000 as managing partner, will stay on in that capacity. He also holds an ownership stake, but the team is in bankruptcy and soon will have a new owner.
Gretzky had been away from the team since the start of training camp, with assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson leading the team in his absence.
"This was a difficult decision that I've thought long and hard about," Gretzky wrote in a post on his official Web site. "We all hoped there would be a resolution earlier this month to the Coyotes ownership situation, but the decision is taking longer than expected. Since both remaining bidders have made it clear that I don't fit into their future plans, I approached General Manger Don Maloney and suggested he begin looking for someone to replace me as coach.
"I've loved the four years I spent coaching the Coyotes. Not a day went by when I took it for granted, and I will miss the competition of the NHL dearly. It was an honor to hold the position, and I will always consider myself especially fortunate to have had this opportunity."
The team Tippett inherits features a number of talented young players, led by forwards Peter Mueller, Martin Hanzal and Mikkel Boedker, and defenseman Keith Yandle. Supporting that group are veteran leaders like team captain Shane Doan and defenseman Ed Jovanovski. Younger veterans like Scottie Upshall, Matthew Lombardi and Petr Prucha also will play prominent roles for the club, as will No. 1 goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.
"I really like some of the young players," Tippett said. "I really think there's some great upside to this group. I think they're motivated to get this team to have some success -- to maybe show some people that they are a good team."