Thursday's NHL: Coyotes to use Arizona State's new hockey arena for 3 years

Associated Press

Tempe, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes will use Arizona State's new on-campus hockey arena for at least the next three years while the team looks for a permanent home.

Arizona State’s arena will hold about 5,000 fans, easily making it the NHL’s smallest home venue. The Coyotes will begin playing there next season, and the deal announced Thursday has an option for the 2025-26 season.

“We are thrilled that we have arranged to play our home games in Arizona State University’s new multi-purpose arena starting next season,” Coyotes President & CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez said in a statement. “This will be an incredible, intimate and exciting fan experience in a state-of-the-art new arena in a fantastic location in the heart of Tempe.”

Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom (25) watches the puck on a shot by Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (6) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, in Glendale, Ariz.

The Coyotes have been playing at Gila River Arena on an annual lease since the city of Glendale voted to terminate a 15-year, $225 million lease agreement in 2015. Glendale announced last year it would not renew the annual lease after the current NHL season.

The team has submitted a bid for a tract of land in Tempe in what could be its first step to finally landing a permanent home. The Coyotes are planning to move their corporate offices closer to Tempe later this year.

“Having made the full-time transition to Division I just seven years ago, ASU hockey already has an NCAA Tournament appearance to its credit and now is moving into a new, state-of-the-art facility,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. “Hockey is thriving in Tempe, and we are delighted that the Coyotes’ passionate fans will get to experience ASU’s on-campus energy while the Club’s new arena is being built.”

More: Filip Zadina 'felt pretty good' on Red Wings' top line, hopes for another chance

When the Coyotes first moved from Winnipeg in 1996, the team shared America West Arena with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns in downtown Phoenix. The team moved to Gila River Arena in 2003, but faced near-constant relocation rumors as ownership changed hands.

Former owner Jerry Moyes took the Coyotes into bankruptcy in 2009 and Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie put in a bid to purchase the team with the intention of moving it to Hamilton, Ontario. The NHL, wanting to keep the team in Arizona, put in a counter bid and a Phoenix judge ruled the team could not be sold to Balsillie to circumvent the NHL’s relocation rules.

The NHL ran the Coyotes for four seasons and the financial constraints associated with that took a toll, leading in part to a seven-year playoff drought.

A new ownership group brought new hope in 2013, but turmoil surfaced again in 2015, when the city of Glendale backed out of the lease agreement.

Plans for a new shared arena with Arizona State University fell through in 2017 and the franchise’s future in the Phoenix area continued to remain in doubt.

Andrew Barroway gave the Coyotes a bit more financial flexibility when he bought a majority stake in the team in 2017, but he sold the team to current owner Alex Meruelo, who has said he plans to keep the franchise the Phoenix area.

The Coyotes also are negotiating with Ice Den Scottsdale to make the complex the team’s full-time practice facility.

Edmonton fires coach Dave Tippett

Edmonton, Alberta — The struggling Edmonton Oilers have fired coach Dave Tippett, according to two people with direct knowledge of the decision.

The move was confirmed Thursday by the people who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the move had not been announced. One of them said Tippett will be replaced by Jay Woodcroft, the head coach of the Oilers' AHL affiliate in Bakersfield, California.

Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett looks on during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, in Elmont, N.Y.

After beginning the season 16-5-0, the Oilers have gone 7-13-3 in a head-scratching performance for a team led by stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Edmonton (23-18-3) stands fifth in the NHL’s Pacific Division, five points out of a wild-card spot, and has lost its last two games.

More: Red Wings return from break with first victory in Philadelphia since 1997

The firing is the seventh coaching change in the NHL this season and second in the past two days after Martin St. Louis replaced Dominique Ducharme in Montreal, which is at the bottom of the standings after reaching the Stanley Cup Final last season.

Tippett, 60, was named Oilers coach in May 2019, three weeks after Ken Holland was hired as GM and president of hockey operations. Tippett received a three-year contract but the Oilers have never advanced past the first round of the playoffs on his watch even as Draisaitl (2020) and McDavid (2021) won the Hart Memorial Trophy as NHL MVP.

Tippett coached the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes from 2009-10 through 2016-17. He earned the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year in his first season.

He arrived in Edmonton with a record of 553-413-120 with 28 ties in 14 seasons with the Coyotes and Dallas Stars, whom he coached for six seasons. Tippett, who played more than 700 NHL games, was a senior adviser with the Seattle Kraken before joining Edmonton.

It is the second coaching change in Edmonton in less than four years: The Oilers fired Todd McLellan in November 2018 after a 9-10-1 start. Ken Hitchcock coached the team for the final 62 games of the season.

Canucks hire Cammi Granato as an assistant general manager

Vancouver, British Columbia — The Vancouver Canucks have named Hall of Famer Cammi Granato as an assistant general manager, the team announced Thursday.

Granato, 50, moves to the Canucks from the Seattle Kraken, where she has served as a scout since 2019.

“We wish Cammi the best and thank her for her work in helping launch the Kraken,” said Ron Francis, Seattle general manager. “We understand this is the right opportunity for her and her family.”

Granato joins a Canucks front office that has been entirely revamped since former general manager Jim Benning and several other staff were fired in early December. Jim Rutherford was named president of hockey operations and has hired former Penguins assistant general manger Patrik Allvin as GM, and former scout Derek Clancey and former player agent Emilie Castonguay as assistant GMs

Granato, a native of Downers Grove, Illinois, captained the U.S. women’s hockey team that beat Canada to win gold at the 1998 Nagano Olympics. She also won silver at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002.

In 2010, Granato and Canadian Angela James became the first women to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.