Well the day has finally come.
Wayne Gretzky has officially stepped down as the Head Coach and Director of Hockey Opertions of the Phoenix Coyotes. Anyone who has talked to me about the Coyotes situation or has read articles I have written know how against Gretzky I was in his position as head coach. He never got the Coyotes to the playoffs with the team always collapsing in the second half of the season. You can read the full press release from The Great One himself here.
According to the statement released by Gretzky, Maloney has found a replacement and it was only when Maloney had found this new candidate would Gretzky leave. No formal announcement has been made by the club but the recent hiring of veteran hockey coach Dave King seems to have rumors swirling it may be him. However, according to Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada (gotta love Twitter), the Coyotes are talking with former Dallas Stars head coach Dave Tippett about the position.
Out of those two choices I would have to pick Dave Tippett. In six years with the Dallas Stars his team never finished below a .500 record and he missed the playoffs just once (last season). His furthest accomplishments was the conference finals two seasons ago where Dallas lost to the eventual Cup champion Detroit Red Wings. The Stars won the division two times under Tippett's direction.
Outside of the actual accomplishments Tippett has been coaching in the NHL. Dave King never coached in the new NHL and has had very little success in terms of head coaching and winning. He has never made it beyond the first round, just like the Coyotes. However, I am very much in favor of keeping King around as an assistant coach. The man has knowledge of the game from all over the world and years of experience which will be a major asset to the young players within the Coyotes organization.
We can not forget Ulf Samuelsson in this equation. The interim head coach has been running the team's training camp and is really rising to the occasion. However Ulffy is not NHL head coach material. Keeping him as an assistant coach would not be a bad move considering he knows the players the best right now.
What does this do for the financial situation? Honestly I do not know nor do I care. All I know is that if Don Maloney has hired a competent replacement for Gretzky the Coyotes will win more games and will draw more people. It is as simple as that. The Coyotes will be in Phoenix all of this coming season no matter what happens in the courts but you can bet they will be out to prove everyone wrong and so will Coyotes fans.
It has been real Wayne...thanks for bearing the burden and taking the criticism...but it just was never meant to be.