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Tippett Glad to Make Commitment to Coyotes

by Jerry Brown / Arizona Coyotes

GLENDALE -- With the final chapter of the ownership saga of the Phoenix Coyotes drawing to a close, Head Coach Dave Tippett talked Monday about his long-term contract extension, knowing full well that soon he won't have to answer any more ownership questions.

Tippett said he is confident prospective owners from Renaissance Sports and Entertainment can put the finishing touches on a new lease agreement with the City of Glendale to keep the Coyotes at Arena.

Tippett said he has family in Seattle, which has been mentioned as a possible new home if the deal falls through. Either way, his focus will stay the same: keeping his team successful and competitive on the ice.

Once General Manager Don Maloney and Assistant G.M. Brad Treliving also signed long-term contract extensions, and assistant coaches Jim Playfair and Sean Burke reached deals to stay, Tippett decided to turn away from the prospect of free agency and other coaching openings to stick with the Coyotes.

"Four years ago, it took a leap of faith to come in here to a team that I thought had some good pieces and good people," Tippett said. "We've built what I believe is the foundation of a strong organization. We've had some turmoil and challenges, but when I sat down over the last few weeks -- especially after Don and Brad committed to long-term deals -- I felt like this was the best fit.

"We all have a similar vision, a fun group and a lot of trust, and when you have that, you have as much chance at success as anywhere. It's a franchise that a lot of people doubt, but I think there's lots of upside here."

Maloney said he was confident he would be able to re-sign Tippett because of their close relationship. But the ownership situation, which has had many twists and turns in the past four years, delayed Maloney's contract extension and stretched out the process to a little more than a week before Tippett's contract would have expired June 30.

"Since (Tippett's) been here, he's set the identity of the franchise, who we are as a franchise, how we have to play to have success," Maloney said. "He's made a long-term deal, which shows commitment. He took less money to stay here. We have a lot of work to do; we came up short last year (missing the playoffs), but this was maybe the most important decision of the off-season."

Tippett took a team that missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for seven consecutive years and turned it into one that has the three highest point totals in Coyotes history, with a 156-96-52 record that includes a 2011-12 run to the Western Conference Final.

Only Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings has more regular-season wins (445) in the NHL than Tippett's 427 during the past 10 years. Tippett is poised to pass Bob Francis (165 wins) next season for the most wins in Coyotes history, all the while coaching a team owned by the NHL.

The next order of business is to re-sign goalie Mike Smith and hard-working center Boyd Gordon, who will become free agents July 5.

Maloney, Treliving and Burke met with Smith in Vancouver last week, and it was clear that getting Tippett back on board and resolving the future of the team in Arizona were major parts of Smith's considerations.

With the prospect of having new ownership in place, Maloney and Tippett said they are excited about the future.

"We'll be on a level playing field when you talk to free agents -- either players you want to keep or those you want to bring here -- when it comes to stability," Tippett said. "The same question, 'Are you going to be there for a long time? Can my family settle there?' has been one we couldn't answer. If you can answer that, there are a lot of positives in this organization that work in our favor."

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