"We have a list of nine names," Coyotes CEO Jeff Shumway told The Canadian Press on Tuesday. "We're asking permission (from other NHL clubs), we started making those calls yesterday. As soon as we get permission or don't get permission, we'll tell people who we're talking to. And we'll probably have them out to Phoenix or go see them early next week."
Shumway would not name the candidates on the list because the Coyotes had yet to receive permission from the NHL clubs who currently employ some of them.
New York Rangers assistant GM Don Maloney, Toronto Maple Leafs pro scout Craig Button and Vancouver Canucks assistant GM Steve Tambellini have been among the heavily speculated names.
The Coyotes fired GM Mike Barnett, assistant GM Laurence Gilman and senior V-P Cliff Fletcher on April 11. Since then president Doug Moss and coach Wayne Gretzky, who also owns 15 per cent of the team, have teamed up with Shumway to build a list of GM candidates.
"It's been a process primarily between Doug and Wayne because they're really the ones who know the people in the league - I don't," said Shumway. "The list was never set really until last night. It's been a process of the three of us talking about different individuals and people have been moving on and off the list. We finally have a list we can work with now."
Just what kind of GM are the Coyotes looking for?
"For me, having somebody that works well, plays well with others, we need somebody that fits in with me, Doug Moss and Wayne Gretzky and is a team guy," said Shumway. "No. 2, he has to be a very good evaluator of talent. And No. 3, he has to have an understanding of what kind of system it takes to develop that talent once we get it.
"My guess is that's probably a younger model-type guy, but I'm not certain of that."
It would be nice to have the new GM hired before the June 22-23 NHL entry draft but that's not a definite deadline.
"We'd like to do it before the draft but I think for us, getting the right person is way more critical than having it done by a set time," said Shumway. "So we're going to keep looking until we find the person we really need."
Gretzky raised eyebrows at the April 11 news conference, an emotional day for The Great One with longtime friend and former agent Barnett being let go, when he said the new GM probably shouldn't be connected to him in any way.
That's not necessarily going to be the case.
"I don't think it rules out anybody," said Shumway. "And I think Wayne's concern is that at least down here in Phoenix, there's been some talk about 'friends of Wayne,' and he thinks it's really unfair to the people that they get branded with that. So he would certainly support hiring somebody that doesn't have a personal relationship with him.
"But if we find the right person, that's who we're going to hire."
Despite firing his longtime friend, Shumway said he and Gretzky are on the same page moving forward.
"We are," said Shumway. "I got to tell you, every time I meet with Wayne I come back and somebody will say, 'How did the meeting go?' One hundred per cent of the time my response is, 'Better than I could have ever hoped.' Wayne is gracious and is smart, he understands the business side and the hockey side.
"And probably the most comforting thing for me is when he and I started sitting down a few months ago talking about what was going on, we were uniformly on the same page."