Losing is not pleasant at any time, and some athletes and coaches are simply “bad losers.”
Then again, there are those who wear their emotions on their sleeves, and body language further expresses their anguish.
Since the Phoenix Coyotes did not quality for the Stanley Cup playoffs the past two seasons, the defeats and related agony seem to multiply for coach Dave Tippett. Emotional, open, demonstrative, Tippett is not one to hide behind any mask.
Here’s a man who has the most wins as coach in franchise history and guided the Coyotes to their only 50-plus win season in 2009-10. Still, the pain of losing does not sit well and especially when Tippett steps out of the rink.
“Earlier in my coaching career, I would come home after a game and my wife (Wendy) and kids would immediately know the outcome,” Tippett told reporters this past Thursday night after participating in a Town Hall with fans. “My emotions dictated how things went on in our household.”
Tippett explained that things are less exciting at home after games, and his two adult daughters, Nicole and Natalie, now joke about the emotional nature of the household while they were growing up.
Still, Tippett is trying his best to rescue the hour and turn what several consider a mediocre team at best into something more.
Last season, the Coyotes finished fourth in the Pacific Division with 89 points, two behind Dallas. The Dallas Stars were the eighth and final qualifying team for the playoffs in the Western Conference. To reach the next level and be in a position to play for the Stanley Cup, Tippett is looking for a team which plays, in his words, “a hard game.”
Citing the Los Angeles Kings as such a reference, Tippett indicated the search is on for players who fit that mold.
If he tends to fill his roster with hard-nosed grit players, that may take a house-cleaning in the desert. The Coyotes do not have a plethora of the kind of player Tippett seeks. In the end, he, along with general manager Don Maloney, will have to subtract and likely add players from their Portland affiliate of the American Hockey League.
“I don’t see the upcoming free agent as strong,” Maloney told reporters after the town hall last Thursday night. “It’s not a great market.”
If the Coyotes are to break out of their mediocrity, free agency may not be a path. According to Maloney, the economics of the moment will likely dictate the directions club will follow.
“This could be a dangerous time,” Maloney added. “Players want big money in long-term deals, and I’m not sure teams want to go that way. We also know drafting players requires patience because we’re talking about kids 18, 19 years of age.”
Still, Tippett and the rest of the Phoenix organization remains impatient in the inability to break into the elite class of teams.
“We want to model ourselves after Detroit,” Maloney added. “We see the Red Wings making the playoffs every year, filling their building every night and playing very competitive hockey.”
Then again, that would require a special kind of player and their collective ability to play Tippett’s “hard style.”
There is no dramatic change to the uniform and the familiar face of a coyote remains on the sweater.
“We’ll see a few subtle changes, like design of shoulder patches, not nothing really noticeable,” Anthony Le Blanc, the team’s CEO, told reporters after Thursday night's town hall. “However, we’re expanding our retail operation dramatically, and fans now will have more choices in purchasing merchandise.”
Le Blanc said the added retail experience will be available at Jobing.com Arena beginning June 27.
Mark Brown is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
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