PITTSBURGH – Don Maloney is still trying to make the Phoenix Coyotes better even though he’s not yet sure who he’ll be working for next season.
While the Coyotes GM has been monitoring the team’s bankruptcy proceedings, he says the uncertain ownership situation isn’t currently affecting his job. In fact, he thinks this is as good a time as any for it to happen.
“It’s a relatively quiet time, there’s not a lot of guys getting signed,” Maloney said Tuesday after the GM meetings at the Stanley Cup final. “We’re business as usual right now. We’re preparing for the draft and those kind of things.
“Obviously, a month from now, it might be a different story.”
Even though Maloney hasn’t received a budget for next season, he would be permitted to extend contracts to the team’s restricted free agents prior to July 1 – with approval.
Scottie Upshall, Nigel Dawes, Enver Lisen, Daniel Winnick and Keith Yandle are among the players on his roster that fall under that category.
It’s a little trickier when dealing with potential unrestricted free agents, although there’s a good chance that the ownership picture will be a little less murky by July.
“We certainly plan to be in business,” said Maloney. “Quite frankly, it’s really no different. There’s different ways we plan – you can plan if you’re spending to the cap or mid-range or maybe towards the bottom of the salary scale.”
A young Coyotes team had a tough second half this season and finished 13th in the Western Conference. However, there is some reason for hope that the on-ice product will be better moving forward.
That’s the biggest thing Maloney is focusing on right now.
“We think we’re on the right track in Phoenix,” he said. “In regards to the hockey area, we had one of the youngest teams in the league and, at the all-star break, we were in fifth place, everything was going good. Bit of a stumble (at the end).
“We think we’re doing it right, we’re building a winner. It takes time.”
The GM says that most of his staff has been receiving updates on the situation through the media and there really hasn’t been much more for him to add. Maloney feels for many of them – particularly those in a sales role.
“(It’s) pretty tough to sell tickets right now until things are clarified,” he said.
Outside of the court hearings, the next big event for Maloney is the June 25-26 draft in Montreal.
There will be no repeat of the series of events in 1983 that saw the St. Louis Blues make no selections at the draft after owner Ralston Purina essentially walked away from the team.
The Coyotes scouts have already gathered for meetings and are ready to go.
Otherwise, everyone is just waiting to see how the court case plays out.
“Whatever our marching orders are, we’ll march,” said Maloney.