As was first reported by FOXSportsArizona.com's Craig Morgan on Thursday, the NHL and the Coyotes finalized on Friday a new long-term contract for general manager Don Maloney.
Maloney, who has been the Coyotes' GM for the past six years and in that time has assembled the teams that produced the three highest point totals in franchise history, would have been free to sign with another organization after June 30, when his contract was set to expire.
The Coyotes have been ownerless and thus run by the NHL for the past four seasons, and the league determined that it would not wait for an ownership resolution to bring back the highly respected Maloney.
"We are very pleased that Don has agreed to sign a long-term contract extension with the Coyotes," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement. "Since joining the team in 2007, Don has done an outstanding job managing his team and building a competitive roster that has produced on the ice, even given less than ideal circumstances off the ice.
"The NHL remains committed to securing the Coyotes' future in Glendale under new ownership, and we believe Don's long-term agreement evidences that he is equally committed."
Maloney was sure to have some suitors if he became available on July 1. Not only have he and Tippett guided the franchise to its three highest point totals in its 33-year history as well as its deepest playoff run, theyve done it on a shoestring budget with a dearth of top-end scoring talent.
Its unknown what specific assurances Maloney has received that he will have more money to spend on the open market, but sources have said every ownership group currently in the mix has vowed to increase payroll enough to make the team competitive.
"I am grateful to continue working for this franchise," Maloney said in a statement. "We have a strong core of talented people, both on and off the ice, who are committed to building a championship team and a first-class organization. I would like to thank NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly for their tremendous support these past few years."
With Maloney in place going forward, the next step for the team and league, sources say, is to work out a deal with coach Dave Tippett, whose contract also expires on June 30, before turning their attention to negotiations with goalie Mike Smith, who is believed to be asking for a long-term contract with an annual payment between 6 million and 7 million.