So Wayne Gretzky finally quit as head coach of the Coyotes.
In his resignation statement, Gretzky admitted neither team bidder wanted him to stick around as coach.
The Coyotes promptly hired former Stars coach Dave Tippett to coach the team.
Gretzky was obviously upset. If he cared about what either potential owner wanted, he would have stuck it out until a deal was done and then given the new ownership the chance to bring in their own management/coaching team. Now, whoever takes over the team is temporarily stuck with Tippett, since you can’t fire a coach until there’s some kind of track record of failure. Plus, Tippett got a four-year contract, although I’m not sure who’s paying him. I sort of suspect he’s getting paid in Coyotes merchandise, or perhaps the right to star in the upcoming PROSTARS sequel.
The Phoenix media doesn’t seem sorry to see Gretzky go, although I don’t remember anyone complaining about him while he was actually coaching.
Tippett isn’t a horrible choice, but it seems strange the Coyotes would choose a coach who bombed out of the very same division just a few weeks ago. But Tippett is system and defense-oriented, which is what the team needs. He’ll be better than Gretzky, but that’s a low bar. It would have been great if Phoenix had had more of a heads up on Gretzky leaving and made a play for someone like Jacques Lemaire earlier this season. A coach of that caliber would have given the franchise instant hockey credibility — something it hasn’t had in quite a while.
Now, with the coaching issue settled, all the Coyotes need to do is figure out the country they’ll play in next season.