Recently, Coyotes GM Don Maloney unveiled the vision Andrew Barroway — who took over as Arizona’s majority owner last month — has for the future of the team.
“I spent the weekend with Andy at the All-Star Game and really got a sense of who he is and what he’s all about,” Maloney said, per Fox Sports Arizona. “He really does want to do this right.
“He wants to build for the long term and he understands that there is some suffering involved to do what you need to do to build a winner that is sustainable.”
Acknowledgement of potential suffering is intriguing. Remember when former Sabres GM Darcy Regier alluded to it in Buffalo during the start of Buffalo’s rebuild?
“It probably needs an understanding from our fan base that what Terry [Pegula, Sabres owner] is asking of us is to try a lot of things,” Regier said in the spring of ’13. “He is in search of creating a Stanley Cup champion.
“It may require some suffering.”
Regier, of course, was fired just a few months after making that statement, only to resurface last July in — surprise! — Arizona, where he’s currently embedded as assistant GM.
At this point, all signs point to a major rebuild in the desert. Beyond the quotes above, Arizona has just five players under contract beyond 2015-16 (Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Mike Smith, Martin Hanzal, Lauri Korpikoski, Joe Vitale) and a slew of young prospects looking to make the leap, led by World Juniors standout Max Domi.
This makes the Mar. 2 deadline all the more intriguing. The Barroway transaction closed quicker than some speculated (reports suggested it wouldn’t be done until the end of the season), which has afforded Maloney an earlier opportunity to figure out what ownership wants, and how to execute it. The names of Antoine Vermette and Keith Yandle have been prominent in rumors and the club has another chip to play in veteran d-man Zbynek Michalek, a UFA at season’s end.
Some think it would behoove Arizona to re-sign some of these players, especially a productive veteran presence like Vermette. But based on the message Maloney’s getting from Barroway, spending money doesn’t sound like it’s a key part of the plan.
“We want to stay as flexible as possible,” he explained. “If we need to grow this thing and run at a low payroll for a couple years, so be it.”