Remember way back in the day (OK it wasn't that long ago, but it feels like it was) when we would spend day after day deciphering Gary Bettman, Donald Fehr and Bill Daly's comments to see where the NHL Lockout was headed? Well, we kind of get to play that game again, except this time it has to do with the Phoenix Coyotes ownership situation.
How does any of this impact the New York Rangers?
It's the worst kept secret in New York that Dave Tippett is high on Glen Sather's wish list when it comes to the open coaching vacancy. Since Dallas Eakins was appointed head coach in Edmonton, the Rangers true candidates are now down to Mark Messier and Alain Vigneault as the favorites, with Lindy Ruff being entertained as well (which is presumably just a case of Sather doing his due diligence in the coaching search). Tippett -- I believe -- is a guy Sather has wanted from the beginning, but Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney has been adament about keeping him behind the Phoenix bench.
That could change, however.
Tippett has yet to sign an extension with the Coyotes because no one knows how the ownership situation is going to play out in Phoenix. And if Bettman's comments on Wednesday are any indication, we might know sooner rather than later what the solution is going to be. Spoiler alert: Bettman and Daly didn't sound overly optimistic about the team remaining in Glendale.
"It certainly means it's possible the team won't play there next year," said Daly. "We're in the short strokes in Phoenix right now. The ownership group we've negotiated a deal with has been negotiating with the City of Glendale. I think everybody kind of knows what's on the table. I think the puck is pretty much in the City of Glendale's end with respect to how they want to deal with that.
"There's a Board of Governors meeting on the 27th," said Bettman. "There's a City Council meeting on June 25. Stuff's going to happen. There are a number of [potential relocation] markets that have been expressing interest to us over the years. The phone keeps ringing more regularly the longer that the Coyotes situation stays unresolved. Based on the dates we just happened to talk about, it's causing the phone to ring even more."
So here's the thing for the Rangers: How high on Tippett is Sather? To this point neither side has spoken (Maloney hasn't given permission to any suiters since he ultimate goal is to keep Tippett in Phoenix) so who knows how much interest Tippett has in New York. It's clear Sather wants him, but Tippett has made it clear he wants to stay in Phoenix if possible.
Here's the other thing for the Rangers: Time isn't exactly on their side. Bettman seems to insinuate that if nothing is sorted out by the June 25th meeting then it's more than likely the Coyotes will move. But that date is way off in the distance, and one of the prime candidates (Vigneault) is currently being courted by the Dallas Stars.
Will Vigneault make the decision to go to the Stars (if they offer him a position) because they're interested in him and not interested in him and someone else? Should the Rangers even play games with Vigneault since the coaching market (assuming Vigneault is hired by another team) would become more barren than the UFA market? Is Sather comfortable enough with Mark Messier as a backup plan if all else fails? Is Messier actually Sather's top choice?
We don't know any of these answers. The Rangers have been very tight-lipped about the entire coaching search. What we do know is Vigneault has been interviewed and it's believed he was near or at the top of Sather's list from the beginning.
Would he still be there if Tippett was on the market? That's the new question now and Sather might not have much time to figure that out.