He takes over a team that’s 27th in the NHL in points percentage (.424), is expected to trade its leading goal-scorer, Bo Horvat, and faces a full-on fan revolt against ownership and management about how they mismanaged his predecessor Bruce Boudreau’s firing and the abysmal state of the team.
Welcome to Vancouver, Coach.
“I don’t look at it as a tough start,” Tocchet said during his introductory news conference. “I look at it as a new day tomorrow. All of that other stuff lessens and lessens [each day].”
Tocchet, 58, had served as a studio analyst for TNT’s NHL coverage for the past two seasons. Prior to that, he coached the Arizona Coyotes from 2017-18 through 2020-21 and earned praise for exceeding the low expectations for those teams — thanks in part to frequently outstanding goaltending. He was also a head coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning for two seasons.
His most notable coaching success came as an assistant to Mike Sullivan in Pittsburgh, winning back-to-back Stanley Cups as part of his staff. Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford was the general manager of those teams; Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin was the Penguins’ director of amateur scouting.
Tocchet played 1,144 games in the NHL with six franchises and was known as a physical forward who could hang offensively.
What does Tocchet’s hiring mean for the Canucks, both on the ice and in the trade market? Here’s a glance at what happened, and where it’s going for the team and its new coach.
What does Rick Tocchet bring to the Canucks?
Boudreau went 50-40-13 (.549 points percentage) in his two seasons with Vancouver. He was hired by owner Francesco Aquilini before Rutherford was brought on board. Rutherford publicly groused about that — basically saying that Boudreau was still coaching the team this season out of contractual obligation — and was openly critical of Boudreau in interviews.
At Sunday’s news conference, every one of Tocchet’s virtues seemed like a correction to what Canucks management didn’t like about Boudreau.
About a month ago, Rutherford and Allvin had a meeting with Boudreau in which they discussed how “the bottom half of the lineup had declined” and that their younger players had regressed. Tocchet stressed that there are some “role players” on the team the Canucks needed to get more from in the lineup.
In November, Rutherford was openly critical of the way…