It has been 18 years and 116 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

I, as I suspect many other fans, was surprised and quite frankly shocked to learn of the firing of Coyotes General Manager, Don Maloney. Now, I am no more than a casual Coyotes fan, similar to many fans in the Valley. This season I watched games on TV and attended a few.

I have never been thrilled with LeBlanc and the current ownership group but what is, is. They are large and in charge – one adapts.

I first met Don Maloney when the NHL took over the team after Moyes’ declaration of bankruptcy. He impressed me then and he continues to do so. The NHL was never a hands-on manager and quite frankly, that allowed not only Maloney but Tippett as well, to fly…and they did. Sarah McLellan, sports reporter for the Arizona Republic, in an April 11, 2016 story, describes Maloney’s performance. Here is the link: .

With him at the helm, the Coyotes went 326-291-87 and made three playoff appearances. The highlight came in 2012 as the team captured its first division title and advanced to the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history.

“After the 2009-10 season, Maloney was honored with the inaugural General Manager of the Year Award for assembling a team that achieved the organization’s most successful season to date. The Coyotes went 50-25-7 for 107 points and qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

“Actually, much of Maloney’s best work came after the team was dropped into bankruptcy in 2009 and managed by the NHL for the ensuing four seasons before the current ownership group purchased the club in 2013.

“Despite a hamstrung budget and limited resources, the Coyotes rattled off three consecutive seasons of at least 40 wins from 2009 to 2012.”

There is no doubt that Maloney is one of the best general managers in the business. From the outside, looking in, could it have been that Maloney had conveyed that he disagreed with the current direction and before he resigned, the owners fired him? Often these situations are handled more gracefully with a joint statement of a mutual parting of the ways.

Maloney got his direction and goals in running the organization from the franchise owners. Apparently when left to his own devices under the ownership of the NHL he succeeded. What direction did the new IceArizona owners give to him from 2013 onward that resulted in such a dismal performance?

LeBlanc, at a press conference announcing the firing said, “He absolutely has done a great job of laying the groundwork for the future. However, we believe a change in leadership is needed in order to move our franchise to the next level.” LeBlanc went on to say, “Ownership is completely committed to winning and winning long-term here in Arizona. Today was the first step in moving us to the next phase as an organization.” The question many fans are probably asking is what exactly is this next phase?

Maloney reacted to his firing with the following, “Ownership have (sic) the absolute right to hire the person they are most comfortable with to run their hockey organization. They felt a change was needed at this time. I have no hard feelings or regrets whatsoever.” There is no doubt that Don Maloney is a class act and a consummate gentleman. He is articulate and intelligent and worked miracles during the most turbulent times of the Coyotes’ history. From the outside looking in, the manner in which Maloney’s leaving was handled, was not a class act.

© Joyce Clark, 2016


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