GLENDALE, Ariz. – Don Maloney has held one of the most unenviable positions in sports the past four years, trying to build a roster with no owner and a skimpy budget.
He managed to navigate his way through it successfully, leading the Phoenix Coyotes to the playoffs three times and the best season in franchise history two years ago.
The NHL rewarded Maloney on Friday, signing the Coyotes’ general manager to a long-term contract that will keep him with the franchise no matter where it ends up playing.
“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 has been Phoenix’s general manager for six seasons, the past four while operating under the restraints of being run by the NHL after former owner Jerry Moyes took the franchise into bankruptcy in 2009.
Maloney was honoured as the league’s General Manager of the Year Award in 2010 and led Phoenix to three straight 40-win seasons for the first time in franchise history.
Maloney also pulled the strings to build a roster in 2011-12 that earned the Coyotes their first division title in 33 years as an NHL franchise and their first trip to the Western Conference finals.
The lack of an owner seemed to catch up to the Coyotes this year, when they went 21-18-9 in the lockout-shortened season, but they finished only four points out of making the playoffs.
Phoenix still doesn’t have an owner, but a resolution to the saga is expected to come this season, either with a new owner that will keep the team in Arizona or with relocation.
Maloney’s contract, along with coach Dave Tippett’s, was set to expire this summer.
“I am grateful to continue working for this franchise,” Maloney said in a statement released by the team. “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.”
The 54-year-old Maloney joined the Coyotes after 10 seasons in the New York Rangers’ front office. He also worked for the New York Islanders, serving as general manager in 1992-95, and was a scout for the San Jose Sharks in 1996-97.
Maloney played 13 NHL seasons with the Rangers, Hartford Whalers and Islanders.