Sources in Canada told the Tribune on Saturday that the Coyotes have made their first postlockout move by buying out the final year of left wing Brian Savage’s contract.
When asked about the report, Phoenix general manager Michael Barnett said, "We will make those determinations on Monday."
Barnett also said decisions regarding the team’s free agents could be announced that day.
Savage, who signed a four-year, $14 million contract in 2002, was originally due $3.75 million this season. That number was reduced to $2.85 million after the 24 percent pay cut. He will receive two-thirds of that amount ($1.9 million) this year and a total of $8.4 million of the original $14 million if his contract is bought out.
In another move that could save the Coyotes some money, the Philadelphia Flyers bought out forward Tony Amonte, who they acquired from Phoenix during the 2002-03 season. Amonte signed a four-year, $24 million deal with the Coyotes in the summer of 2002, and at the time of the trade, Phoenix was responsible for an unspecified portion of his deferred signing bonus.
Managing partner Wayne Gretzky recently told the Toronto Sun a decision on who will coach the Coyotes won’t be made public for at least another week, and Barnett said Saturday that will likely be the case.
"I don’t anticipate anything happening until after the draft (next Saturday) in Ottawa, but it’s not out of the (realm of) possibility," Barnett said.
Gretzky, who held a press conference at his restaurant in Toronto on Thursday when his 16-year-old daughter was introduced as the cover girl for Flare magazine, was quoted in Friday editions of the newspaper as saying, "We’ll announce (the coaching situation) after the draft."
He also hinted to TSN, a Canadian television station, that he is leaning toward moving behind the bench, saying, "If you can’t play, the next best thing is coaching."
The Sun also reported that Gretzky’s mother, Phyllis, who has been undergoing chemotherapy for lung cancer, received a good medical report Wednesday.
Gretzky couldn’t be reached for comment.
Phoenix will play its 10 interconference games against the Southeast and Northeast divisions. The Coyotes will host Atlanta, Carolina, Florida, Washington and defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay. On the road, they will play Boston, Buffalo, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto.