USATSI_9070653_154158418_lowresThe Arizona Coyotes have fired general manager Don Maloney. They made the announcement Monday, effectively ending an era of hockey in the desert.

The Coyotes have been in a rebuild mode and have missed the post-season for four consecutive seasons.

“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,” said president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc. “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.”

Arizona finished 24th overall this season with a 35-39-8 record.

There are no plans to name an interim general manager right now, as a search for a new GM is underway. The Coyotes expect to have someone in place by the NHL Entry Draft in June, with John Chayka and Chris O’Hearn heading up hockey operations until then. Head coach Dave Tippett has two years left on his contract. Word around the campfire is that his advice will be sought in terms of a new general manager, which speaks to a trend in how teams are handling player personnel.

Maloney started his management career with the New York Islanders, where he served as general manager from 1992 to 1995. He then moved to the New York Rangers, where he worked under Glen Sather as an assistant general manager from 1996 to 2007. In May of 2007, he was named the GM of the Phoenix Coyotes.

And by June of 2010, Maloney was named the first-ever general manager of the year by the National Hockey League. He “charted the course” for the franchise’s most successful season and hired Tippett as his coach, despite the off-ice tumult that so typically pursued the club.

But the game plan has changed in the desert and now Maloney’s out, with some citing “philosophical differences” as the key reason for his ousting.

Regardless, it’s time to move forward. Arizona has a 6.5 percent chance of winning the first overall selection at the NHL Entry Draft and they should be rather active in free agency, with some needs to address. At the top of the list is a defenceman. There are some other potential items in the hopper, too, like the futures of Shane Doan and Maloney-favourite Martin Hanzal.

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