CHICAGO – It’s been an eventful last week for Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka.
It was revealed on Monday that Shane Doan, the team captain and a 21-year member of the franchise, would not be extended a contract offer as a free agent. That was after the team traded starting goalie and six-year Coyote Mike Smith to the Calgary Flames.
It was revealed on Thursday that Dave Tippett, the team’s coach since 2009 and also their executive vice president of hockey operations, mutually agreed to part ways with the team, an agreement that included a $3-million contract buyout. The relationship between Tippett and owner Andrew Barroway, who bought out the team’s minority owners on June 12, had reached its breaking point.
On Friday, the Coyotes made two significant deals, landing Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson for defenseman Connor Murphy and center Laurent Dauphin, a move to give Oliver Ekman-Larsson a defense partner; and landing center Derek Stepan and goalie Antti Raanta from the New York Rangers in exchange for defenseman Anthony DeAngelo and the seventh-overall pick in Friday’s draft.
Then there was the talk that the Coyotes would do further business with the Blackhawks, taking on the contract of Marian Hossa in the way they did the contracts of Pavel Datsyuk and Chris Pronger to help reach the salary cap floor. Hossa may have played his last NHL game due to an allergy to his equipment. His $5.275 cap hit is on the books until 2021, but he’s only due $1 million in salary each of those seasons.
Any interest from the Coyotes?
“I look at everything. Marian came up of late. It’s not something we talked about,” Chayka said. “I just say in general that I’m just looking to improve my club, and I’ll use every asset I can to do that. So, I could say no, and then I get offered three firsts to do it, and then I wouldn’t say no.”
Is that the ask?
“It’s a good start,” he said, with a laugh.
From the awkward, clunky parting of ways with two franchise standard-bearers to the acquisition of a top-pairing defenseman, starting goalie and top two center.
Quite the whirlwind.
“That’s quite a bit in 24 hours,” said Chayka.
The Tippett news wasn’t a total surprise, he said, but he still hoped the veteran coach could return.
“I was certainly hoping he was coming back for another season. Having said that, it wasn’t out of the blue necessarily. But you think that things can kinda work moving forward, but that’s life,” he said. “Sometimes they don’t work. It doesn’t mean I don’t love Tip and everything he brought to the organization. All his blood, sweat and tears he put into it. It was appreciated. And we’re trying to build off of that.”
From the outside, it would appear that Barroway wielded an incredible amount of influence on these decisions.
“He’s 100 percent owner. Usually those guys have some influence,” said Chayka.
“I work well with him. I respect him. I think he’s trying to do what’s right with the organization in his mind, moving forward. He’s all-in, right? He wants what’s best. Wants to help find us an arena and keep us there long-term. He wants to help us build a team. He’s invested emotionally, financially, everything. I respect that about him. “
Was he disappointed that Tippett and Barroway couldn’t find a way to work together?
“It’s not my relationship to really comment on. I think when you’ve endured what we have in Arizona, which has been difficult, it wears on you. It’s tough. It’s difficult. It isn’t easy on anybody. I think over the years, it’s difficult. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” he said.
So now, as John Chayka attempts to build a winning roster in Arizona, he needs to find someone new to coach them. All in due time.
“The next coach? I’m 24 hours past Dave Tippett,” said Chayka. “He’s a tough guy to get over.”
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