Dave Tippett has had an extremely successful coaching career with both the Dallas Stars and the Arizona Coyotes. In his 12 seasons as a head coach he hasn't won a Stanley Cup but he's only missed the postseason four times, with three of them being the past three seasons in Arizona.
Tippett is still under contract with the Coyotes after signing a five-year extension in 2013. Despite that, there have been some rumblings that Tippett could find his way out of Arizona after the team finished second-worst in the NHL in 2014-15.
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This profile is part of our "So You Want To Coach The Flyera," a series where we'll look at a bunch of different candidates for the Flyers head coaching gig. Ron Hextall says there will "be a hell of a lot" of guys considered for this job this offseason, so we're going to profile a hell of a lot of people. Let's have some fun.
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Age: 53 (August 25, 1961)
Playing Career: 11 seasons, including 1 with the Flyers in 1993-1994
- Head Coach of the Houston Aeros of the IHL (1995-99): 165-85-0-36 record
- Assistant Coach of the Los Angeles Kings (1999-02): 117-82-36-11 record
- Head Coach of the Dallas Stars (2002-09): 271-156-28-37 record.
- Head Coach of the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes (2009-present): 217-176-0-65 record
What has he accomplished as a coach?
He actually served as a player/coach for part of the 1994 season with the Houston Aeros. In his final season he was named IHL coach of the year, had the league's best record, and a won the league championship.
As an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Kings, they made the playoffs in all three seasons.
With the Dallas Stars, he inherited a non-playoff team and took them to the postseason every year except his last. He became only the seventh coach in league history to lead a team to back-to-back 50 win seasons
In Phoenix he took over coaching duties from Wayne Gretzky, who resigned, and helped the team to a 28 point improvement and 50 wins in his first season. He coached the team to the playoffs in his first three years, but has missed the playoffs the last three years.
Why is he available to be hired?
"The last time I spoke to someone close to Dave Tippett, which wasn't that long ago, the message I got back was Dave and his wife are going to meet at the end of the season and they're going to consider what's best for their future. Now I don't believe that anyone has come out and confirmed that Dave Tippett has an out in his contract. We know that he has term remaining on his contract.
So until that happens it's all very speculative, but if Dave Tippett and his wife are meeting, are going to discuss their future at the end of the year, that sounds to me like he's got an out in his deal. If he has an out, I'd be surprised if he didn't exercise it because I can't imagine that Dave Tippett signed his contract extension again knowing that he was going to face a rebuild."
It's possible that Arizona lets him go after missing the playoffs for three straight seasons including a particularly brutal one this year. However, it sounds like it may be more likely that Tippett tries to find his own way out of Arizona if anything since the Coyotes are in the midst of a rebuild.
What do we know about him tactically as a coach?
As a Western Conference team that doesn't play the sexiest brand of hockey, I won't pretend as if I've watched hundreds of Arizona Coyotes games and attempt to have some "chalk talk" with you.
With that said, he's a defensively oriented coach that stresses team defense first -- not unlike Craig Berube. An article from 2012 discussed his system, calling it a "style of hockey that could nicely be described as conservative and not so nicely described as boring."
In his six years in Arizona, the team has fared better defensively than it has offensively every season: The team was never higher than 14th in league scoring (29th, 20th, 21st, 18th, 14th, and 24th over the last six years), but had two seasons in the top-five in the league in goals against (28th, 18th, 15th, 5th, 12th, 3rd over the last six years).
How does he fit with the Flyers' roster, both now and in the future?
Tippett had a quote from an article back in April 2012 that has always really resonated with me.
"We had a player that was supposed to be a great, shut-down defenseman. He was supposedly the be-all, end-all of defensemen. But when you did a 10-game analysis of him, you found out he was defending all the time because he can't move the puck.
"Then we had another guy, who supposedly couldn't defend a lick. Well, he was defending only 20 percent of the time because he's making good plays out of our end. He may not be the strongest defender, but he's only doing it 20 percent of the time. So the equation works out better the other way. I ended up trading the other defenseman."
It's that forward-thinking attitude and willingness to question the norm and approach things from another perspective that makes Tippett so appealing.
One thing that irked me about Craig Berube was his apparent over-emphasis on "results" over "process". There is so much goofiness and luck in the game of hockey that sometimes it doesn't matter how good you are playing -- you come out on the short-end. Or conversely, sometimes it doesn't matter how awful you are, the bounces can go your way. If goals are essentially how you measure a player's worth, sometimes you're going to under- or over-value a player.
For example, nobody is going to argue that Lecavalier had an awful season and is a shadow of the player he once was, but he is still likely to contribute more to a hockey game than Zac Rinaldo. Yet, Berube scratched Lecavalier at times in favor of Rinaldo apparently because it had "been a while since he has scored."
This quote from Kings coach Darryl Sutter earlier this season gets the same point across:
We never really had the lead.
Reporter: A couple of two-goal leads?
I know you define it by goals having a lead, but we really never had the lead.
Tippett seems to bring calmness, rational thinking and emphasis on the big picture. Here he is in March of 2013:
"I'm a big believer in the process," Tippett said. "If the process is done right, then eventually you're going to find the outcome you want.
Tippett's approach lends itself to the current Flyers, especially with how Berube handled his lineup this past year. I'd like to think that Tippett would not be so reactionary and stay committed to his process.
Additionally, with a number of young defensemen coming up, it would likely behoove them to play for a coach like Tippett who has the patience for them. Tippett has had some success with talented young defenseman in Arizona after all.
So what's the catch? What are the key reservations here?
Aside from the fact that he may not even be available? I guess the biggest reservation would be that he is quite clearly in the worst stretch of his coaching career with three consecutive seasons of missing the playoffs.
Other than that, I really just think the "catch" is whether or not he'll even become available.
Is he someone that is likely to be high on the Flyers' wish list?
I would think so. Dave Tippett is a highly respected NHL head coach that has had success everywhere he has been. He's only experienced adversity in recent years with a team that has severely lacked talent.
It's also worth mentioning that he was a former Flyer -- he finished his NHL playing career here with 73 games in 1993-94 -- and we know that never hurts in this organization.