TAKING LIBERTIES WITH … Dave Tippett
Hometown: Moosomin, Saskatchewan, Canada
Currently Resides: Scottsdale
Current Position: Arizona Coyotes head coach
Arizona Rubber: What’s the best piece of advice you have for youth hockey players and coaches?
Dave Tippett: To make sure you have fun playing. Everyone talks about systems and structure. The best way to learn and enjoy the game is to make sure everything you do, whether you’re playing a game or practicing, you have to have a fun part of the game.
AZR: What’s your favorite sport to watch outside of hockey?
DT: I don’t watch much. I watch football and golf. I’ll watch The Masters or football when I know somebody in the game.
AZR: What’s your typical game-day routine? Did you have any superstitions when you played, and have they carried over to coaching?
DT: Up early, usually sit and have a coffee outside. Go to practice, go and have lunch. Usually look at a couple more things on my computer. Have a shower and come to the game about 2 o’clock. I didn’t call them superstitions, I called them habits. You get into a habitual thing – you put one skate on first, use certain kinds of tape and the same kind of laces. Nothing really translated to coaching.
AZR: What’s your favorite restaurant in Arizona?
DT: I belong to the Silverleaf Club (near Scottsdale’s DC Ranch area) and I very rarely go outside the gates. It’s a phenomenal club. My wife and I eat there probably 3-4 days a week.
AZR: What was your “Welcome to the NHL” moment as a player?
DT: There’s a few of them. I came into the league right after the 1984 Olympics and the Hartford Whalers were already out of the playoffs. The biggest eye opener for me was Gordie Howe was still practicing with our team in Hartford. You go on the ice and you’re on the ice and you see Gordie Howe skating around. After I played my first two games, he came over to me. I had been a center my whole career and I jumped to the NHL and I was playing left wing. My first game was in the Boston Garden and then we played them at home the next day. I was at the wall and Gordie came up and said here are some tips about how to play on the wall.
AZR: What about as a coach?
DT: The first week of coaching. The coaching part of it was different than playing because I coached in the minors for so long. You get in the NHL and I learned a lot of good lessons coaching in the minors. I can’t remember something I struggled with. Probably more when you’re a coach and the first time the heat really comes on you that you’re going to get fired and your kids are reading ‘Should we fire the coach today?’ and think ‘Are we moving, Dad?’
AZR: What hockey player did you most idolize while growing up? How about coach?
DT: A couple of them. Bobby Clarke was always a guy I watched and tried to play like. I’ve had a lot of great coaches and you learn a lot from coaches. Terry Simpson, my junior coach, probably helped me out more than anybody. At that age. you’re looking for somebody to give you some direction and he was pretty good at that.
AZR: What’s the best hockey prank you’ve ever seen or been part of?
DT: There’s a few. In the old days, it used to get even more vicious. A guy would be sleeping on the plane and they would cut his tie off, guys would put their dress pants on and the legs would be cut off of them – they are a little tamer now. There’s been some really good pranksters over the years.
— Compiled by Matt Cooper