Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dave Tippett Is The Greatest Coach In The History Of The 2009-10 Phoenix Coyotes

As soon as the Coyotes started out 2-0, you knew the media - the same media who has all but forfeited the team's games - would come out gushing over the Coyotes' "surprise start", right?

The Phoenix Coyotes could play their last home opener ever this weekend, what with the team in bankruptcy, the ownership situation unsettled and the possibility of relocation never all that far from the conversation about their future.
Relocation that, if you recall, requires a $750 million payment to the city of Glendale. Nice try, though.

If that wasn't bad enough, chances are the Coyotes -- a mix of minimally experienced young players, castoffs and a sprinkling of talented veterans -- will miss the playoffs for a seventh straight season while bringing up the rear in the Pacific Division, if not the entire league when all is said and done.
That's right, folks. The entire 2009-10 NHL season has already been played, and the Coyotes finished 30th out of 30 teams. But, like participants in a reality show, everyone has to act like it's all happening at the same time we see it on TV.

To call this a mess would be to understate the situation and how much it has consumed the organization at every level for the last five months. But for the time being at least, the off-ice problems seem to be on the back burner with Phoenix becoming one of the NHL's early pleasant surprises thanks to an impressive start that includes a well-earned road win against the reigning Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
Phoenix is 2-0. They've played exactly 2.439% of their schedule. Settle down.

Dave Tippett took over the job when Wayne Gretzky resigned a few days before the season opened. He replaced the game's greatest icon and stepped into circumstances where failure seemed more likely than not. Yet in the space of a couple of weeks, Tippett has managed to instill a level of structure and discipline that has made Phoenix's game virtually unrecognizable from last season, and certainly a lot more effective than anyone realistically could have imagined.
Let's try this again. THE COYOTES WEREN'T THAT BAD LAST YEAR. They were fifth in the West at the All-Star break. They probably would have made the playoffs if not for their horrible late January and February where they netted a total of six points from fifteen games. They were 23-15-3 at home - you know, the place everyone is trying to move the Coyotes from.

Oh, and at least someone realistically imagined the Coyotes playing well this year.

More so when you consider Tippett really didn't have to be there. A veteran coach widely respected for his teaching ability and no-nonsense approach to things, Tippett was fired unceremoniously by Dallas' new management in June after averaging more than 45 wins in six seasons and with two more seasons remaining on his contract. Someone with Tippett's pedigree could have waited for another opening, but instead he took what might be described as a leap of faith and has become a steadying force for a team that was in disarray.
A leap of faith is taking, say, the Devils job, knowing that Lou Lamoriello fires coaches like every week. But taking a job in a place with really nice weather, with absolutely no expectations, and when everyone has already written your team off as a horrible failure? That's a win-win situation. It's even better than taking a cushy TV analyst job.

[Tippett:] "I think the players have done a phenomenal job blocking out all the distractions and stuff that was in the media. Now it's up to us, and the big thing now is that we're playing and we can control things on the ice."
No, you can't. According to Wes Goldstein, you already missed the playoffs. If you already forgot, scroll up a few paragraphs.

"I had a feeling we were going to need a coach, and it was clear there was one guy for us," Maloney said. "Back then, Wayne also thought Dave would be right for this. He's got a quiet strength to him, and knowing what our team looked like, we thought he was a perfect fit."
This is bullcrap. If Gretzky or Ulf Samuelsson was coaching this team and they won their first two games, Don "We Got The Better Lindros" Maloney would be singing their praises ad nauseum. In addition, I have no idea what "quiet strength" has to do with anything.

So far, he has been.
Perhaps we should wait until Dave Tippett hits the 2.440% mark on this season before calling him a "perfect fit" for anything.

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