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Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER DON MALONEY

Wednesday, 08.01.2007 / 6:00 PM / Features
By Heath Price-Khan
PhoenixCoyotes.com caught up with General Manager Don Maloney for an interview to get an update on his transition to the Valley of the Sun and the future of the Coyotes.

PhoenixCoyotes.com: Your former boss, Glen Sather, is arguably the greatest gen eral manager in NHL history. What is the most important lesson you learned while you worked with him?

Don Maloney: Patience more than anything else. Hire good people, and let them do their work. He’s a shrewd man, but he’s got a very calm demeanor. The more you get to know him, the more you like him and you realize that all those wins were no fluke.

PC: You recently hired Brad Treliving as your assistant general manager. What separated him from the other candidates you interviewed?

DM: I just connected with Brad.  I felt he brings a fresh look on how we have to build this franchise with his creativity, organizational skills, and contacts in the hockey community. We have to think differently, be more creative, more determined to find new ways to get better quicker. Basically, he brings what I was looking for.

PC: How satisfied are you with the team’s current situation at goaltender after the recent signing of David Aebischer? Does he go into camp as the number-one goalie, or are you still looking to strengthen that position?

DM: Organizationally, we are still searching for the next great goaltender. David Aebischer is a good goaltender, and he and Mikael Tellqvist will compete for the top spot. There is not a day that goes by that we do not look at our goaltending and say that we have to be the best in the league at that position. Until we are there, we have to keep looking.

PC: Do you plan on making any other key acquisitions before the season starts?

DM: I don’t think there will be many. Since the start of the free agent period, everything has died down to a trickle. For about 10 days it’s bedlam and now everyone is taking a deep breath and has spent what they want to spend. To me, it’s about getting our infrastructure in place and house in order, and then, starting to begin the conversations about how we improve the club. Most trades don’t start on a single call, they start months in advance. We still have a lot of work to do here.

PC: How close is the Keith Ballard deal to getting done?

DM: We are having ongoing conversations with him. He is an important part of our club and hopefully we will get him signed.

PC: If you were to pick one guy on the team who could really surprise people this year, who would that be?

DM: I expect Ed Jovanovski to have a terrific season. He’s healthy, feeling great, and a terrific player. Mike York can come in under the radar, if he gets his game back and he’s 100% healthy.

PC: You and St. Louis Blues President John Davidson were teammates with the New York Rangers and now, you both share the same goal of rebuilding franchises. Do you guys ever get on the phone and compare notes?

DM: (Laughs) I talk to J.D. a lot, he’s a good man and they have done a good job with the Blues. It’s very competitive in the West, and having him in St Louis does not make it any easier.

PC: Speaking of your former teammates, what player was the greatest teammate you ever had?

DM: As long as he does not read this I would say my brother Dave (former New York Rangers captain). I was with him for six years, but you can’t tell him that because it will go straight to his head.

PC: You scored your first NHL goal on your very first shot at Madison Square Garden. Could you ever have imagined anything like that?

DM: That’s in a past life, and my life now is getting this team to compete for a championship.

PC: Was there one guy you hated to play against more than anyone else?

DM: I don’t know about one guy, but one team was always the Islanders back in the heyday of the New York series. Certainly Denis Potvin was good, and a tough guy to play against.

PC: Was there one goalie in particular that was tougher on you than anyone else?

DM: The guy I had the most trouble with was Ken Dryden. I don’t think I scored a goal on him. I don’t know why, I just had bad luck with him. I remember breakaways and good chances, but I could never score on Dryden.

PC: You have lived in the New York area for a long time, and your wife is from there, so other than the pizza, what will you miss most?

DM: Certainly the buzz of the Garden, and the City. It’s an entirely different culture. It’s still a little too fresh here, so maybe that question has to be asked a year from now.

PC: Although you have not been in Phoenix that long, what has been your biggest surprise about the area?

DM: The heat…..it’s a dry heat. 118 feels like 116 (laughs). Truthfully, everyday is the same. You can’t help but wake-up and feel good when it’s sunny and bright. I like the feel of this area, it’s growing and expanding, which is kind of representative of this team.

PC: More than likely you have not had much time to take in the great golf courses out here, but I am sure that some of the fans would love to know your handicap?

DM: (Laughs)…..Don’t ask….My handicap is golf. Leave it at that. I’m not much of a golfer, but I do like to play once in a while.

PC: If you and your brother Dave play, who wins? How competitive does it get? Any trash talking?

DM: It’s ugly! It’s a contact sport when we play together. I let him win every once in awhile.

PC: Would you like to see the NHL change the scheduling so that every team comes to Jobing.com Arena at least once a year, or keep it the way it is?

DM: I like to see every team, I think everybody does. You want to see whoever, whether it’s Sidney Crosby or the other great teams in the East.

PC: You played in a different era; did you ever think that teams would have dance teams and mascots?

DM: It’s entertainment, but at the end of the day, the performance of the team is going to dictate the life and enthusiasm of the fans in the stands. You can have all the bells and whistles you want, but the team has to perform, and then people will come and enjoy the sport.

PC: Many would have never guessed that the Stanley Cup would reside in Southern California with the Anaheim Ducks, or in other non-traditional hockey markets like Carolina and Tampa Bay before that. Talk a little bit about what it would mean to bring the Cup to Phoenix?

DM: The model has been set. There is no reason why we can’t do that in Phoenix. It’s going to take a lot of work, and a lot of good decisions. You can just see the support successful teams are having here, like the Suns. Three years before Tampa Bay won the Cup, their building was half full, but when they got good people showed up. Success breeds success. We just have to do things right.

PC: You are obviously a big proponent of building through the draft, which seems to be the model for successful teams. What made Kyle Turris the right pick this year, and which NHL player do you hope he might evolve into?

DM: That was our Director of Amateur Scouting Keith Gretzky, and certainly Wayne had influence there. I did not know him terribly well, but they were very firm on that pick. He’s going to be a terrific player for us, hopefully in the mold of a Steve Yzerman, or a Joe Sakic type of player. He’s a driven kid, and he’ll be a good one.

PC: On that note, the Coyotes will have two future stars playing big time college hockey this year at the University of Wisconsin (Turris) and the University of Minnesota (Blake Wheeler). Is college hockey catching up on junior hockey as a breeding ground? Has it passed it because of the education and life lessons that are part of the experience?

DM: I’m not so sure about that. Different players and different personalities develop better in different situations. This was the right move for Kyle Turris to go to school. He is a little under developed physically, so less games and more development time, while playing against older players, is good for him. Peter Mueller went the other route, from the U.S. to a good junior program in Canada where he played more games in smaller rinks similar to the NHL. Players will find their way if they are meant to play, and if they work hard.

PC: Now for a couple fun questions so the fans can get to know you better. What shows are set to record on your Tivo?

DM: I enjoy the Discovery and National Geographic channels.  Shows like “Dirty Jobs”….the host has a great personality, and “Survivorman” are a couple favorites!

PC: What gets the most play on your iPOD?

DM: I’m into country now. New country, not the old stuff. Big & Rich and Montgomery Gentry….I love that stuff!

PC: Who is your favorite current athlete to watch who is not in the NHL?

DM: It would have to be Tiger Woods. I love that guy. He is such a dominant player in his sport.

PC: What other sports and teams do you follow?

DM: My wife’s family grew up with the Mara family that owns the New York Giants so we have Giants season tickets. I have also been a Yankees fan, so I follow them more closely than most teams.

PC: What is your all-time favorite movie?


DM: “The Godfather”

Speaking of “The Godfather”, one thing is for sure, with this “Don” running the show the Phoenix Coyotes are in good hands. Maloney clearly brings the same work ethic to the office that he brought to the ice as a player.
 
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