SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Coyotes hired Bill Armstrong to shepherd a rebuilding project.
After a solid start, Armstrong gets to see it through.
The Coyotes signed Armstrong to a multiyear contract extension Wednesday, ensuring the general manager will be able to see the fruits of his overhaul.
“That's a big thing in negotiating this contract was: you come in here, you make all these moves, you start to get it going in a direction and you keep pushing,” Armstrong said. “Now you're acquiring picks, you're drafting players and we've been able to recruit some really strong free agents into our team. Now you see it start to come together and you want to finish what you started.”
The Coyotes hired Armstrong in 2020 to replace John Chayka, who had an acrimonious split with the franchise right before the NHL's playoff pandemic bubble.
Armstrong's task was to rebuild a franchise that hadn't been to the playoffs since the 2012 Western Conference finals before earning a spot in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoff qualifiers.
“I kind of knew what I was getting into and where the team was at and what had to be done,” Armstrong said. “The approach was to take a year, look at it, go back to see where we're at and really take concrete steps with that.”
Armstrong opted to start from scratch, trading away many of the franchise's veteran players to accrue draft picks. He also hired coach Andre Tourigny, who signed a contract extension earlier this summer.
The Coyotes set their foundation with a talented core of young players, including All-Star Clayton Keller, Mattias Maccelli, Dylan Guenther and Barrett Hayton. Arizona has cashed in on its added picks the past two drafts, filling its system with talent.
Ready to take another step, the Coyotes were aggressive during the offseason, adding Max Dumba, Sean Durzi, Nick Bjugstad, Alex Kerfoot and Jason Zucker.
“For the past three years, Bill has done an excellent job restructuring our hockey operations department and rebuilding our hockey team,” Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo said in a statement. “He has acquired elite talent through the draft, trades, and free agency, and has established a winning culture by adding a great coaching staff and other key hockey operations personnel.”
Armstrong arrived in the desert after serving as assistant general manager and director of amateur scouting for the St. Louis Blues from 2018-20.
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John Marshall, The Associated Press