Coyotes fire GM Don Maloney after 9 seasons

Don Maloney works the phones at the 2015 NHL draft. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Arizona Coyotes missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season, costing general manager Don Maloney his job.

Coach Dave Tippett has two years remaining on his contract and is expected to remain with the team.

The Coyotes finished with 22 more points than in 2014-15 and were knocking on the door of the playoffs in January, but they couldn't keep the momentum going.

"On behalf of our ownership group and the entire Arizona Coyotes organization, I would like to sincerely thank Don for all of his hard work and the many contributions he made to our organization during his tenure," Coyotes president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc said in a statement. "The Coyotes had some success with Don, but we believe a change in leadership is needed in order to move our franchise forward in a new direction."

The Coyotes statement said that assistant general managers John Chayka and Chris O'Hearn will manage the hockey operations department until a new general manager is selected.

Maloney, 57, had one of the most difficult jobs in sports, leading a team operating under the financial restraints of being owned by the NHL for four seasons. Maloney handled it better than expected, bringing in gritty, low-salaried players who fit Tippett's defensive style of hockey.

The Coyotes lost in the first round of the playoffs in 2010 and 2011, but rallied fans across the Valley of the Sun with an unexpected run to the 2012 Western Conference finals.

A new ownership group, led by Anthony LeBlanc and George Gosbee, stuck with Maloney after buying the team in 2013 and kept him as GM after Andrew Barroway bought 51 percent of the team in 2014.

Maloney leaves the organization with several high-profile prospects and young players, including rookie forwards Max Domi and Anthony Duclair. Maloney orchestrated a rebuilding phase for the franchise last season, trading away several core players and their large contracts to give the team financial flexibility and the younger players in the system a chance to blossom.

But the Coyotes have struggled with injuries to key players, particularly goalie Mike Smith, and have not finished higher than fourth in the Pacific Division the past four seasons.

Arizona lost out on a huge opportunity when it fell to third in last year's NHL draft lottery despite having the league's second-worst record the year before, costing it a chance to draft Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. The Coyotes still managed to get a good player in center Dylan Strome, but he did not make the team out of training camp and was sent to Erie of the OHL.

Arizona was also embroiled in controversy surrounding the All-Star selection of enforcer John Scott. After fans selected him to captain the Pacific team, partly as a lark, partly as a tribute to his years of service, the NHL and the Coyotes scrambled. Scott was at first sent down to the AHL and subsequently traded to Montreal. The league finally allowed him to take part in the game and he ended up being named MVP.

Maloney played for the Rangers, Whalers and Islanders from 1978 to '91. He served as Islanders GM from 1992 to '95 and Rangers assistant GM from 1996 to 2007, when he took over the Coyotes.

Tippett has coached the Coyotes since 2009-10. The team had 107 points that season, his best with the franchise.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.