A native of Moosomin, Saskatchewan, the left wing played for the Prince Albert Raiders before heading south to play collegiate hockey. Between 1979 and 1981, Tippett was an offensive standout helping the Raiders win the Century Cup in 1981.
Tippett then notched 28 goals, 59 assists and 87 points in his two years at the University of North Dakota. As captain, he helped lead a squad full of future NHLers to both the MacNaughton Cup (regular season championship) and the NCAA championship in 1982.
Despite his record, Tippett was overlooked in the NHL draft. Instead, he played a full season with Dave King's national team and was chosen as Team Canada's captain at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. While the team did not win a medal that year, Tippett was finally able to catch the attention of the NHL, signing with the Hartford Whalers. He immediately played the last 17 games of the 1983-84 season.
While unable to become an offensive leader at the NHL level, over the next six years in Hartford Tippett built a reputation as a solid defensive winger who could contribute a handful of goals and assists. His efforts did not go unnoticed by the team, as he was named alternate captain, and earned Community Service, Unsung Hero, Mr. Hustle, and Best Defensive Forward awards.
In 1990, he was traded to the Washington Capitals, where he spent another two years as a steady third and fourth line wing.
Chosen to represent Canada again at the 1994 Albertville Olympics, he came home with a silver medal. Tippett then spent just two more years in the NHL, signing one-year deals with first the Penguins, then the Flyers. In 1994, he moved to the IHL Houston Aeros, first as a player/coach, and then as head coach.
Taking a cue from his old UND coach Gino Gasparini, from 1995-1999, Tippett built a reputation as a coach with tremendous work ethic. He coached the Aeros to two 50 win seasons, and in 1999 he coached the team to the Turner Cup Championship. That year he was also awarded IHL Coach of the Year.
Tippett's next stop was LA, where he became an assistant coach for the LA Kings. During his time in LA, the Kings make postseason appearances all three seasons. Prior to this, they made the postseason only once in the previous six years.
On May 16, 2002, Tippett was named head coach of the Dallas Stars. In his first season in Dallas, the team posted the best record in the Western Division and second-best record in the league on their way to capturing the division title. Tippett also earned the fourth highest point total for a rookie coach with 111 points.
In six years of coaching the Stars, his teams won two Pacific Division titles (2002-03 and 2005-06), made five postseason appearances and one Western Conference final appearance (2008).
On September 24, 2009, Tippet was named head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes just hours after Wayne Gretzky stepped down. Under his guidance, the team finally earned their first 50 win season (in Jets/Coyotes history) en route to their first playoff berth since 20002. After a hard-fought series, the Coyotes were eliminated in seven games by the Detroit Red Wings. For his efforts in turning the Coyotes into a successful team, Tippett was named Jack Adams coach of the year.
Despite the uncertain circumstances in Phoenix Tippett remains one of the most highly regarded coaches in the game.
Contributed by Jennifer Conway