Pending-unrestricted free-agent goaltender Mike Smith wants to remain with the Phoenix Coyotes. While Smith stands to earn a considerable pay raise on the open market this summer, money is apparently not the primary factor in his decision.
Smith hopes to provide his family with a stable environment for the next few years, meaning no moving or uncertainty about where they will be living from year to year, via Sarah McLellan of the AZCentral.com:
"The biggest part about me signing back here will be: Is the ownership group coming in, is this going to be a place that free agents are going to want to come and play and are they going to spend the money to make this a better team on an every-year basis? I think that's the most intriguing piece of the puzzle."
Unfortunately, that is one of the few things the Phoenix organization can't guarantee. With the sale of the Coyotes extending over four years -- and counting -- general manager Don Maloney is unable to provide Smith with the certainty he is seeking.
It has stalled any hope of progressing negotiations.
"It's just kind of pointless, really," Smith said. "There's not much Don can do, I don't think, until that happens or else we probably would have had a deal done by now if there was."
Smith also notes that head coach Dave Tippett's situation is another factor to consider. The goaltender states that he has a strong relationship with Tippett and his return to the team would also help sway Smith's decision to do so. However, much like Smith, Tippett is set to become a free agent this summer when his contract expires on June 30. Rumors have already surfaced about teams expressing interest in the Coyotes' bench boss, as well as reports that the Coyotes have rejected requests from other clubs to interview Tippett.
It's believed that Tippett is also waiting to make his decision based upon what occurs with the ownership situation.
As is (and has been) abundantly clear, the sale of the Coyotes is a substantial detriment to the organization's day-to-day operations. Everyone associated with the franchise is unsure how stable their employment is with the team. In the event that the NHL is unable to sell the team, re-location is a likely course of action.
This is the issue for Smith, Tippett and -- likely -- free agents being courted to join the club. From their perspective, why would they want to agree to a lengthy term with the Coyotes if they can't be guaranteed that they will remain in Phoenix?
Unfortunately, this is a component the organization has had to deal with for some time. In the event that the newest attempted sale doesn't go through, it likely means the end of Smith's tenure with the team.