The Coyotes’ ability to re-sign captain Shane Doan has slowed as dramatically as the next sale of the Phoenix franchise.
Multiple reports have Doan moving in different directions, including a report by a Phoenix radio station late last week that an Eastern Conference team offered the 35-year-old a four-year deal worth $30 million.
Since the Coyotes were eliminated by the Los Angeles Kings in the playoffs, Doan has made it clear that his intentions are to remain in Phoenix.
That said, three of the six Coyotes eligible for free agency have found new homes. However, Doan appears committed, at the moment, to Phoenix.
First, Ray Whitney, coming off one of his best seasons, quickly signed with Dallas on the first day of free agency. Then, Taylor Pyatt, with whom the Coyotes admitted that they had no future plans, signed on with the Rangers and defenseman Adrian Aucoin inked with Columbus.
Doan remains the cornerstone of the franchise and his departure could be the beginning of a domino effect.
With the sale of the franchise to a group headed by former Sharks CEO Greg Jamison still pending, there is that repeated sense of urgency surrounding this franchise.
First, key management personnel are in the final year of respective contracts. That includes general manager Don Maloney, who has done a creditable job putting a competitive team in the ice without defined ownership nor franchise direction.
Then, there’s head coach Dave Tippett. As with Maloney, Tippett has one year left on his deal to pilot the Coyotes. While cordial and diplomatic with his public persona, Tippett is a frustrated and angry man.
After the Coyotes were eliminated by the Detroit Red Wings in the spring of 2011, Tippett expressed dissatisfaction and disappointment that that no ownership was in place. Without ownership, he said at the time, there is no direction, no budget, no marketing, no search for free agents, no contract negotiations and, in effect, the franchise ceases to operate.
Fast-forward to this past season where the NHL still owned the franchise. Again, no budget, no effort to attract free agents, no sales of arena suites, no acquisition of corporate sponsors and, again, the franchise effectively ceased to function.
Following the Western Conference finals against Los Angeles, many Coyotes players questioned calls by officials throughout the postseason. Whether a legitimate argument or not, players contend a certain climate had to change.
“We thought several calls were questionable, but to whom could we complain,” asked Whitney the day the Coyotes cleaned out their lockers at Jobing.com Arena and prepared to go their separate ways. ‘We had no advocate, no voice. The people who own this franchise were giving the conference trophy to the other team.”
Until Jamison and his group are in place, Maloney can only hope Doan holds his cards tight to the vest and gives the Coyotes an opportunity to make a legitimate offer.
Regarding public response to the city of Glendale giving Jamison and his group $17 million a year for the next 20 years to manage the Coyotes home rink of Jobing.com Arena, a resolution may be in place.
A final hurdle was cleared July 12 when the city of Glendale rejected petitions destined for a public referendum this fall (via The Republic). The vote would ask Glendale residents to support or reject the city’s 20-year, $324 million lease agreement to Jamison’s group.
Referendum supporters presented 1,568 signatures to the city but fell short of the 1,862 needed. Still, the league must finalize the sale to Jamison’s group, which reportedly has difficulty raising money to complete the transaction.
Aside from contracts of Maloney and Tippett, goaltender Mike Smith, whom Tippett said was the team’s MVP this past season, has one year left on his Phoenix agreement. After the playoffs, Smith said he would like to remain in the desert but has the luxury of one year remaining to survey the Phoenix franchise scenario.
All of which puts signing Doan, as well as going after other free agents and contract extensions, all the more precarious, and timely. After all, training camp opens in less than two months.
Mark Brown is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
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