New GM Maloney signs multiyear deal with Coyotes

Updated: May 29, 2007, 10:05 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After the Phoenix Coyotes offered Don Maloney their general manager job, coach Wayne Gretzky gave him tapes of five games from last year.

"I told him maybe not to watch those tapes until he signed his contract," Gretzky said with a chuckle.

It was a little daunting to see where they were. But if he was trying to scare me away, it didn't work.

Maloney, on Gretzky giving him tapes of five games from last year

Maloney did watch the tapes and still accepted the job. He saw how far the Coyotes have to go to become a Stanley Cup contender. Phoenix finished last in the Western Conference, 29 points out of the playoffs.

"It was a little daunting to see where they were," said Maloney, who was introduced to the media on Tuesday. "But if he was trying to scare me away, it didn't work."

It's Maloney's task to turn a team that has missed the playoffs four straight years into a contender. Terms of his contract were not disclosed, but the club said it was a multiyear deal.

The 48-year-old Maloney comes to the Coyotes from the New York Rangers, where he served as assistant general manager and vice president of player personnel. The native of Lindsay, Ontario, spent 10 seasons in the Rangers' front office, working closely with president and general manager Glen Sather, after 10½ seasons as a left wing for the team.

"On behalf of the entire Rangers organization, I would like to congratulate Don Maloney on being named the new general manager of the Phoenix Coyotes," Sather said in a statement. "Don has been an integral part of the Rangers for most of the last four decades, as both a distinguished player and an invaluable assistant general manager for the last 10 years. ... We wish Don all the best in his new position and thank him for his dedication, tireless work ethic and significant contributions to the New York Rangers during his tenure."

During Maloney's tenure, the Rangers went from a free-spending organization to one that built from within. After a dry spell, the Rangers made the playoffs each of the last two seasons.

"Don has incredible experience," CEO Jeff Shumway said at a news conference. "If you go back and look at the last four or five years with the Rangers, Don went through with the Rangers exactly what we need to go through with the Phoenix Coyotes. That is, he rebuilt a team using young players.

"He knows how to pick players," Shumway said. "He knows how to develop players. And he knows how to structure an organization to bring the potential out in those players."

Maloney replaces Michael Barnett, who was fired as part of a front-office shakeup after the Coyotes missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season. Barnett, who served as Gretzky's agent during Gretzky's playing career, spent six seasons with the Coyotes.

Maloney finds himself in an unusual position. Most general managers hire their coaches. Gretzky is not only the head coach, but he's also managing partner of the franchise.

"Let's face it -- is it the norm of how a sports team is run? No, not when the managing partner is actually the head coach," Maloney said at the news conference. "But I think it's going to be a tremendous partnership, and that's really what it comes down to."

In an interview with beat writers, Maloney said he looked forward to working with Gretzky.

"One thing that impressed me on Wayne: he's not a person that thinks he has all the answers, that it's his way or the highway," Maloney said. "He's very, very open to listening. He's a very, very sharp hockey mind.

"They don't need somebody up in front of the microphone," Maloney said. "Wayne's the face of the franchise. What they need is underneath people that know players, know the scouting community, know who's good out there and who's not, and I think that's my strength."

Maloney was in the Rangers' front office when Gretzky finished his playing career with the team, and both men have been involved with Team Canada. They were teammates on the Canadian junior team in a 1978 tournament. But they said they didn't know each other well before a few weeks ago.

Gretzky made it clear that Maloney would have the power to make deals.

"My role is pretty simple, as I said to Donnie when we first met a couple weeks ago," Gretzky said. "My enjoyment is coaching."

Maloney will work closely with Gretzky's brother, Keith, who just completed his first season as the director of amateur scouting.

This is Maloney's second NHL general manager position. Maloney was 33 years old when the New York Islanders promoted him to general manager in August 1992, 19 months after he retired as an Islanders player.

"I learned on the fly," Maloney said. "It was a great learning experience. I'm thrilled to be back in the driver's seat."

After meeting with Coyotes' staff, Maloney planned to leave Wednesday for Toronto, where amateur prospects are working out ahead of the NHL draft. The Coyotes pick third in the June 22 draft. It will be Maloney's first chance to put his stamp on the organization.

"We're going to be hungry and we're going to build from the ground up," Maloney said. "And that's the only way for long-term success."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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