When the Arizona Coyotes moved on from disgruntled general manager John Chayka, much consternation must have prevailed for their future. Enter new general manager Bill Armstrong. He came with a reputation of class and a results-oriented manager. He stated when he took the job that he only hires people he trusts. And, he’s following through on that theory with most every hire he has transacted in his new role.
Bill Armstrong is Building a Strong Team
While Armstrong faced innumerable hurdles that his predecessor left him, he’s going about building a strong front office as well as a formidable team on the ice. He assessed what this team needed before he was even offered the position. Now that’s preparation for you! It’s also the sign of a guy who wants to get the job done and move this franchise forward.
One of the first hurdles he had to clear was the salary cap deficit that Chayka irresponsibly left him. Being $3 million OVER the cap limit is not acceptable. Armstrong saw that and dealt popular centre Derek Stepan ($6.5 million cap hit) to the Ottawa Senators for a much needed second-round pick this year. He previously also noticed that the Coyotes were a team with swift talented players, but they were pushed around excessively by bigger, tougher teams.
He addressed that by signing players like John Hayden (6′-3″, 215 pounds) who averages about 2.2 hits per game. Derick Brassard is another player who is not afraid to take out an opponent when necessary. He has averaged 1.44 hits a game. While Hayden will be more of a physical presence, Brassard can contribute to the offence with his 0.57 points per game average. Armstrong saw the need and filled the gap. You gotta like that about his performance thus far running the Yotes.
Adding Shane Doan Was an Astute Move
The “captain” was a player on the team for 21 years. I’m sure that when Armstrong took over he again wanted to add people he trusts to important roles. You can’t get much better in the eyes of Coyotes’ fans than Shane Doan. While Alex Meruelo and Xavier Gutierrez were involved in the decision to hire Doan, you can bet your last nickel that Armstrong had a say in it as well. The upper management of the franchise did not have a background in hockey so they’re doing the smart thing of hiring people who do.
With Doan involved in hockey operations and an excellent ambassador for the entire sport, the valley of the sun will shine again. Doan worked in the NHL operations office for three years and learned a lot. He’s ready to help this organization succeed in every way possible. Doan was always a stiff competitor on the ice and don’t think he won’t be off the ice. He can be very convincing with that charming smile and friendly appearance. Yet, he will take you to the boards if you go after a teammate or do him wrong.
Assistant Coaches Added to the Formula
Armstrong also hired an assistant coach in Cory Stillman. Stillman was originally drafted sixth overall during the 1992 NHL Entry Draft by the Calgary Flames. Over the period of 16 seasons, he played in 1,025 regular-season NHL games and had 278 goals and 449 assists. He will be a valued asset of the team and is yet another great hire by Armstrong.
But, Armstrong wasn’t done. He also grabbed Jay Varady from the AHL Tucson Roadrunners to help out with the Coyotes for at least this upcoming season. His role is an addition to the present coaching staff. Varady is another good choice as he has had excellent success. Coyotes insider, Craig Morgan stated that head coach Rick Tocchet has faith in Varady’s ability given his success in the AHL thus far. He knows many of the young players on the Coyotes’ roster and can work with them to develop their skills and become a better NHL talent.
Bill Armstrong Has a Vision
You can instantly tell when you listen to Bill Armstrong that he is on a mission to bring a Cup to the desert. He wants his team to be tough to play against and he’s proving it by his every action thus far. While nobody expects this team to be skating around holding up Lord Stanley’s valued Cup at the end of this season, don’t think for one minute that Bill Armstrong won’t get there. He has a vision and he’s on a mission. He’s a big guy, I wouldn’t get in his way!