Walking the bench at Jobing.com Arena is Dave Tippett. He is a sharply dressed man who doesn’t smile a whole lot. There is a quiet cool about him as he paces behind the Gladiators. Dave doesn’t speak a lot. But he is the type that when he does open his mouth, people listen. He reminds me of Jimmie Johnson. No not the NASCAR driver. But the former Dallas Cowboys coach. Mostly cool but when he gets upset, it resonates. People respect him. You never hear anything bad about him. But why haven’t we heard many good even great things about him?
Dave Tippett’s first Head Coaching gig in the NHL was with the Dallas Stars. Of course he must have struggled early on. But on the contrary. Just a little wikipedia research and you can see Dave led a struggling Stars club who missed the playoffs the season prior to a 21 point improvement. A Pacific Division title and 111 points later his Stars were bounced in the Conference Finals in six. All four losses were by one goal. Two in overtime including a five overtime game.
During his tenure the Dallas Stars made the playoffs five straight seasons. With bookend six game series in the Conference Finals. In his sixth season the injury riddled Stars failed to make the playoffs. He was fired in June of 2009. Wow.
Sound familiar? Tippett comes in. Turns around a struggling franchise. His men battle for 60 minutes or more to the buzzer?
In September of 2009 the Stars loss became the Coyotes gain. Bringing in Tippett less than two weeks before the start of the regular season. With Gretzky exiting and Jerry Moyes pushing the franchise to the brink of moving and bankruptcy; Season ticket holders bolted fearing the team was off to Canada. A dark cloud settled over the city of Glendale. Surprisingly the home opener was a sellout. But unfortunately the very next game only 5,000 fans came to see a loss to the Blue Jackets 2-0. Even many of the most marketable games against the Bruins and Red Wings barely brought in around 10,000 fans. It reminds me of this article I read some time ago.
Seth Wickersham for ESPN The Magazine writes “The Phoenix Coyotes have no owner and little money, and soon could be homeless. But thanks to Dave Tippett, their indomitable coach, they’re playoff contenders. Again.”
Good read. Well worth it for me. I started looking at Dave Tippett a lot differently after that.
The job with the Coyotes has been truly remarkable. A 28 point improvement from the season before he took the helm. Making the playoffs all three seasons including another Western Conference Final appearance. His first season with a very average at best roster he led the Coyotes to 107 points. Most in the Franchise history. Last season was the first Division Championship in franchise history. Yet only ONE award in his career as an NHL Head Coach. 2010 Jack Adams.
In all Dave Tippett has accomplished 8 playoff appearances in 9 seasons. With 97+ points those seasons.
On a very short list with Mike Babcock and Scotty Bowman having back to back 50 win seasons.
10th ALL-TIME for Point Percentage. Winning over 60% of the points possible.
Maybe it’ll take a Championship to get the hockey world buzzing. The players and fans need to wear that. Show up every game and let him know you appreciate him. That you are willing to give your all for him and the team.
Some of you out their may only see statistics. Attendance numbers. Financial numbers. Wins and Losses.
What I see is Dave Tippett. The Unsung Hero who may of saved the Phoenix Coyotes from extinction.