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Vancouver Canucks fire coach Bruce Boudreau, hire Rick Tocchet as replacement

Vancouver Canucks fire coach Bruce Boudreau, hire Rick Tocchet as replacement

General manager Patrik Allvin feels strongly that his Vancouver Canucks needed a coaching change, whether the passionate fan base wanted one or not.

The change came Sunday when the Canucks officially fired head coach Bruce Boudreau and replaced him with Rick Tocchet.

The former coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Arizona Coyotes is the 21st head coach in the franchise’s history.

“Those decisions are never easy,” Allvin said at a press conference. “But at this point I felt there was needed a new voice to see if we can get this group to buy in, to play a different way.”

Talk has long swirled that the beleaguered Canucks (18-25-3) were planning a coaching change, and many criticized the organization’s decision to keep the 68-year-old Boudreau behind the bench amid rumours that management was already in talks with his replacement.

Jim Rutherford, the team’s president of hockey operations, said he’s been “too direct and too honest” in interviews, and that affected Boudreau.

“Unfortunately, it’s turned out the way it did. Nobody takes great pride in this,” he said. “I’ve known Bruce for a long time. He’s been a friend and I feel very bad about it. And if I’ve offended anybody in the process, I apologize personally, on behalf of the Canucks.”

WATCH | Boudreau salutes Vancouver crowd in final game with Canucks:

Emotional end of game for Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau hours before being fired

Bruce Boudreau appeared to stay for a short time on the Canucks bench Saturday night after a 4-2 loss by his team to Edmonton. It would be his last game after being fired by the team hours later.

Assistant coach Trent Cull was also dismissed Sunday.

In addition to the 58-year-old Tocchet, the team has added Adam Foote as an assistant coach and Sergei Gonchar as a defensive development coach.

Foote and Gonchar were both NHL defencemen, and Tocchet played 18 seasons as a forward.

Defensive liabilities

While Vancouver consistently found ways to score this season, the team has also given up an average of 3.96 goals per game. The Canucks’ penalty kill has been a liability, operating at a league-worst 65.9 per cent.

Fixing the team’s back end will be a priority, Tocchet said.

“You can’t win this game if you’re going to be at the bottom of those categories,” he said. “With that, there is structure. There is some hard rules to keep the puck out of your net without sacrificing offence.

“Don’t get me wrong, but that’s one thing we all know that’s got to improve around here, absolutely.”

Three man are seen in a press conference, against a banner with unfocused Vancouver Canucks and their sponsors logos.

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