CALGARY, AB -- The summer months, Don Maloney suggested, was more than enough time away from the game.
And with hockey starting the slow ramp up towards the 2016-17 season, the ex-Arizona Coyotes general manager felt the itch. He’ll scratch it as a pro scout with the Calgary Flames.
“There was no way, shape or form I was not going to be with a team in the fall,” said Maloney, relieved of his GM duties after nine seasons as the Coyotes executive vice-president, GM and alternate governor at the end of last season. “I got booted out the door in April. I’ve had a tremendous time. April … May … June … July … it’s been a great time to get my breath back.
“Unless you’re in a GM role, you don’t understand how all-consuming it is. It’s 24/7, 365. After nine years, you can take your foot off the gas and take a sigh of relief. I feel I’ve taken more than enough time.
“I needed to take some time to recharge the batteries and get going with what I’m doing. As the offseason progressed and other opportunities, similar opportunities presented itself, I kept coming back to the Flames.”
Maloney had options. A plethora of them, in fact.
And in ranging roles, too.
But he kept coming back to the Flames.
And to Calgary GM Brad Treliving, his former assistant in Arizona.
“When I was asked to leave the desert and never return by the Coyotes at the end of the season, one of the first calls I received was from Brad, and one of the first things he said to me, was that I had to come work with him,” Maloney said. “When you get fired, it’s always nice to hear those things, that it’s not all gloom and doom. There are possibilities.
“It’s like watching your own funeral. The first few weeks you’re overwhelmed with calls and texts and emails, and three weeks in you keep checking your phone to see if it’s still working.”
“After he got let go I phoned him,” Treliving said. “When you go through that there are lots of emotions. Early on … he’s a friend. You always want to reassure him he’s a well thought of guy in the league and to take some time. That’s really what he did. We would talk on a fairly regular basis through the summer. He was taking a step back and refreshing.
“Then later in the summer as the season starts to get closer, then we started talking about this. I first wanted to reach out to Arizona before having any conversations to say, ‘Hey, here’s what we’re thinking.’ They were supportive. And then we talked to him.
“With Don and because of his ability and how well he’s thought of, he had lots of opportunities. He was at a place where he was sort of refreshed, and then really eager. Now you see why and how it’s the best fit here. He had lots of opportunities in the league.”
Maloney kept coming back to Calgary.
After all, Treliving wasn’t the only one lobbying Maloney to join the Flames.
President of hockey operations Brian Burke did his part to put a few calls into Maloney, who also spent 10 seasons in the front office of the New York Rangers prior to being hired by the Coyotes in 2007.
“Brian had influence in this decision as well, simply because from Day 1, he continually reached out to me on a weekly basis,” Maloney said. “I really appreciated it. It meant a lot to me. There are very few people I respect more in the game than Brian Burke.
“Calgary was an ideal fit for me, with my relationship with Brad, my respect with Brian. I feel like I know the organization so well.”
Between the role, the organization, and the people, jumping back into the game so soon only seemed natural for Maloney.
And now he's ready to go again.
“At the end of the day it was quite an easy decision,” he said. “I took my time and didn’t rush into anything. But the idea of sitting out going into the fall and not working with a hockey team was unacceptable to me. I was going to be doing something with somebody.
“Now, I’m excited about the season and am anxious and am looking forward to the new role and getting to know another organization.”