Don Maloney appeared in 765 regular season games in an NHL career that spanned 13 seasons and three teams — the Rangers, Hartford Whalers and Islanders. He went straight from the ice to the front office, eventually becoming the successor to legendary Islanders general manager Bill Torrey in 1992 at the age of 34. After a three-year stint with the Islanders, Maloney spent ten years as Glen Sather's assistant before becoming GM of the Coyotes in 2007, a position he held until the end of the 2015-16 campaign.
Last season, Maloney served as a scout with the Flames, hired by Brad Treliving, his former assistant GM with the Coyotes who is now GM in Calgary.
On Thursday, Maloney was promoted by Treliving to be vice president of hockey operations with the Flames.
Maloney spoke to Sporting News Canada on Thursday afternoon.
Sporting News Canada: Brad Treliving once was hired by you and worked for you in Phoenix. Now, he hires you and you work for him. Is that at all strange; and how would you characterize your relationship with him?
Don Maloney: When Brad came on board and we started working together with the Coyotes, it really was never a boss-employee relationship. I always treated him as an equal. He's got a great mind, works his tail off — there's no harder worker in the game — and we developed a very close relationship. So, when I was let go the Coyotes last year, Brad was the first one to call and said I had to come on board and they could really use me. Consequently, it seemed like a natural fit. And my relationship with Brad is one thing, but Brian Burke (Flames president of hockey operations) is someone I have a ton of respect for, and there are so many great people here, so it's a group effort. This is just a real good opportunity for me to keep working in the game I love and, God-wiling, finally win something before it's all said and done.
Don Maloney has been named Vice President of Hockey Operations. https://t.co/8vZIpqcJc7
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) August 3, 2017
SNC: As you alluded to, you have not won a Stanley Cup yet. How much does that drive you?
DM: Obviously, the years in Arizona, it was more about survival than trying to win anything. I hate to say it, but the reality was the chance of winning there, based on the situation, was really remote. So, what I enjoy about being with the Flames, and it starts at the top with ownership and Brian, is the focus on winning. The resources it takes to win ... they want to run a responsible business, but when you need something it's there for you. Now it's about making good decisions and build on what I consider a successful year last season. It was a humbling end in the playoffs, but good things happened in the offseason and now I think we are all excited where we can take this group with this defense and some of the young forwards we have, and take the next step.
SNC: Can the Flames make a run for the Cup this season?
DM: A team like Nashville — a somewhat underperforming team last year, well sure enough they get hot at the right time, got the right playoff matchup and really were two games away from winning the Cup. Could that be Calgary next spring? Make a couple good deals, hit on the right cylinders, Mike Smith has the big spring we're going to need him to have ... Can we make that kind of run? The line between winning and losing is so fine right now. Health, great matchups, get on a roll for two months and hopefully win something.
SNC: This is the first time you've been with a team based in Canada. What's that like?
DM: What's refreshing to me, getting to work with the Flames, a Canadian club, is the passion — the fans, the media, and the people that work there. I laugh now because people say it's hard in New York, the pressure in New York. It's minute, it's nothing compared to what Canadian cities deal with and the passion of that fan base.
SNC: You've been an executive with the Islanders, Rangers and Coyotes. What are the biggest things you've learned along the way from those three unique experiences?
DM: That's a real tough one to answer. Starting with the Islanders, that was a real eye opener for me because it was my first brush with management and working with Bill Torrey, some real good success early then struggles after. Then went back to the Rangers, had struggles early on, then when Glen came in and the lockout (in 2004-05) came we figured out a few things and had some real good teams. Then my time in Arizona, I don't know, I'd have to think it through. What I've learned is to get good people that work hard and have a confident mindset. With every organization, it starts at the very top and filters down. If you have a strong ownership and management group, everything filters down in a good way. And that's what I'm excited about with Calgary.