GLENDALE – Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett told the players who will return next season that it will be even harder to take the next step in the rebuilding process than it was this season.
The Coyotes earned 78 points in 2015-16, 22 more than they did a year ago.
“We took a good step this year but that was an easy step,” Tippett told reporters on Tuesday at Gila River Arena. “…From where we were coming from it wasn’t hard to step forward. The next step has to be much harder… There’s lots of work to be done.”
Tippett said the team wouldn’t be a playoff team next season if it didn’t decrease the number of goals it allows. He said better overall defense, fewer penalties, and more puck possession are the keys to making that happen.
• Tippett said he's not interested in replacing Don Maloney as general manager. The team relieved Maloney of his duties on Monday after nine seasons.
“Don and I have been together for a long time,” Tippett said. “There’s lots of emotions that go with it (his departure).”
Asked to comment on reports that he would like more control over player personnel decisions, Tippett said: “The coach is always in discussions about some of that stuff but I don’t want to be the G.M.”
• Tippett said he expects captain Shane Doan, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer at age 39, to return to the Coyotes next season.
“My gut feeling is Shane will play next year,” Tippett said. “The reason I say that is because in the last game (of the season) I put him on with about a minute, 30 seconds to go, and we were on a power play chasing a 1-0 game. When he got tired he came off the ice. If that was going to be his last game he would have never come off the ice.”
Doan has said publicly he wants to discuss his situation with his family first before deciding if he will keep playing.
“It’s really his call,” Tippett said. “The reality is Shane is going to play or be involved in the organization somewhere. It’s totally up to him. With what he did this year and how much he contributed to our team, I would have a hard time believing he didn’t think he could come back and contribute again.”
• Tippett said he’d like to have his entire coaching staff from this season return next season.
Assistant Coach Newel Brown and Goaltending Coach Jon Elkin are without contracts for next season.
“I’d like to have them all back,” Tippett said. “I think they all did a fantastic job.”