The goal of having an expansion franchise in Seattle by the 2020-21 NHL season happens by adding crucial puzzle pieces. Seattle’s group may not add one bigger than Dave Tippett.
Loyalty is something valued in any business or team. Employers want employees that they can count on for the years ahead, while potentially building a staff around them.
It’s something that Seattle’s new hire in Tippett surely has. Seven years coaching the Dallas Stars combined with an impressive eight years with the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes showed complete dedication to a project.
The 56-year-old never seemed to latch off the Coyotes’ goals. No matter if the franchise reached lows in attendance numbers, missed the playoffs or even went under threat of relocation, Tippett stayed throughout the whole duration.
The former Hartford Whaler stuck with the Coyotes’ message of producing sublime young talent for the future. Tippett was able to oversee the likes of Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Shane Doan and the up-and-coming Clayton Keller.
But now is a new kind of test for Tippett in Seattle. The once Pittsburgh Penguin was hired to oversee Tod Leiweke’s group in order to detail what the ideal front office would look like, the style of the dressing rooms, a desired American Hockey League affiliate and much more.
It’s almost an ownership type of role. Even though Tippett only has playing and coaching experience, Seattle’s move for Tippett can do a world of wonder for the potential NHL franchise.
The first reason for this is because Tippett, by now, knows what specific players want. This goes for the dressing rooms and the overall infrastructure of the new KeyArena. Something as small as a room to change in can actually do a ton on a club’s overall chemistry.
Ottawa Senators’ coach Guy Boucher spent hours each day trying to determine which players sat next to each other in the dressing room. He told the National Post the following:
"Boucher moved a number of players around in the dressing room, with age, background, language, position and personality all taken into consideration when assigning stalls.“I try to make the room as inclined as possible to push the best relationships possible, which in turn will help us succeed,” Boucher said. “I spend a long, long time figuring out what I would like.”The approach varies from team to team, but a level of thought goes into every room, from who sits where to what message is plastered on the wall."
Former coaches with levels of experience such as Tippett know the importance of team chemistry to a cue.
In the minor league category, Tippett’s influence alone was enough to move the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate from Springfield, Massachusetts to Tuscon, Arizona. A once cross-country flight turned into an hour drive because of documented comments such as this from Tippett in a 2016 interview with AZcentral:
"“To have them so close where you can keep track of each other, you watch each other’s games every night, it’s a benefit that with our team on the East Coast we haven’t had,” Tippett said.“Talking to a lot of people, especially the Western teams … they can’t believe how much of a benefit it was for them,” Tippett said. “We want to move this organization ahead and in that respect, they were ahead of us. Now we’ll be on the same playing field.”"
It was a genius move that originated from the words of Tippett. This past season, a total of ten players from the Tuscon Roadrunners saw regular NHL action, meaning the trip back-and-forth was obviously not too hideous.
Finally, even though this comes as speculation, Leiweke likely sees the Jack Adams winner from the 2009-10 season becoming the first coach of the franchise. It doesn’t need to be said as to just how much experience Tippett has within the coaching field.
Looking in-depth into the guessing game, it looks like a brilliant plan. Leiweke is letting Tippett paint his own canvas in a way. While putting complete trust into him, Tippett is allowed to get the dressing room he wants, the preferred AHL location and even some decisions on the infrastructure of the arena.
It’s setting Tippett up with complete comfort and potential success as soon as Seattle opens its doors to the NHL, almost like the Vegas Golden Knights did in this past campaign.
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The former winger even admitted that he isn’t ruling coaching out of the question to various sources including TSN.
"Tippett could assume a bigger role at some point for Seattle and could be in line to be its first coach.“I’m not going to rule anything out,” Tippett said. “But right now this is intriguing to me. “Very few people get an opportunity to be involved with a group to start a team from the ground up and when that opportunity kind of got put in front of me, it was very exciting. So I’m looking forward to trying to build something that could be a great franchise.”"
Tippett also knows the Pacific Division very well, which would most likely be within the playing field of a franchise in Seattle.
The biggest win for Tippett, however, is that his family resides in the state of Washington. He’s a happy man away from his job, and a completely loyal and committed worker to what could be a huge market for the NHL.
Give us your thoughts of Tippett joining the Seattle project in the comments section below.