Arizona Coyotes next head coach may be Rick Tocchet

As the search for a Head Coach for the Arizona Coyotes to replace departed Dave Tippett continues one name has emerged as a favorite.

Rick Tocchet is a familiar name to Arizona Coyotes

Tocchet has been rumored to be working on a four-year contract to coach the Arizona Coyotes, according to various sources including Sportnet’s Elliote Friedman. Tocchet is quite familiar with the Coyotes’ organization, as he was a former player for the team and an assistant under Wayne Gretzky in 2005.

The ugly part of his background is that he was charged and pleaded guilty to promoting gambling and conspiracy to promote gambling and was sentenced to two years probation.

Some local fan social media responses tell a tale of uncertainty about Tocchet.

Not especially a good thing to have on your resume, but he has put that in his past. After being suspended by the NHL he was back coaching the Coyotes in 2008. Later that year he went on to become an assistant in Tampa Bay when Barry Melrose was fired after just 16 games behind the bench.

Unfortunately, he failed to make the playoffs that year and the next and was relieved of his duties.

In 2014 Tocchet became the assistant head coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins and has been there for two Stanley Cups. Now that is something you want on your resume.

The Tippett era ended

The Coyotes have been hunting for a new Head Coach since Dave Tippett, who was there for nine years decided mutually with management to part ways with the team. Tippett sported a 282-257-83 record while he was Head Coach, and was promoted to Executive V.P. of Hockey Operations before the start of his last season in Arizona.

That promotion, along with a five-year contract would have thought to many as a vote of confidence. He was to be given more latitude on player personnel decisions, and then when Andrew Barroway completed the deal to purchase the Arizona Coyotes as the sole owner, things began to change.

To put it in a nutshell, Tippett’s view of player movements differed from ownership’s ideas. He did not like that Mike Smith was traded, or that Shane Doan was brushed aside without a new contract.

Then, on the eve NHL Entry Draft day, as Tippett was there in Chicago it was announced that he was done. Perhaps the deals that GM John Chayka pulled off may not have been in agreement with what Tippett’s view of the team’s future should be.

In any case, the Arizona Coyotes needed a new Head Coach.

Who got interviewed?

The Arizona Coyotes seemed to have been interested in Todd Nelson who coached the Detroit Red Wings AHL affiliate to the Calder Cup championship this past season. The Red Wings granted the Arizona Coyotes permission to interview Nelson, and after a couple of interviews, he was not approached further.

Another candidate, Dallas Eakins, who coached the Anaheim Ducks AHL affiliate, was also interviewed.

TSN had stated that the Arizona Coyotes also expressed interest in Ralph Krueger who had coached the Edmonton Oilers and is now the chairman of the Southhampton Football Club.

Then, when many had thought (and with good reason) that the leading candidate was Nelson, Tocchet’s name began surfacing as the new favorite.

What could Tocchet bring to this young team?

One thing which GM John Chayka has made clear is that he wants the utmost communication possible on his staff. Tocchet seems to fill that bill, as he guided the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cups. Chayka’s other prerequisite is that he needs a Head Coach who players love to play for. He must be skilled in developing young prospects, and Tocchet has been there, he has helped mold a championship team.

He can be feisty, as he was as a player, but discipline is essential especially with younger players. Tocchet has been rumored to be considered for other Head Coach openings, and this could be his opportunity to bring a team with such future stars as Max Domi, Christian Dvorak, Dylan Strome, Jakob Chychrun, Clayton Keller, Anthony Duclair, Christian Fischer, and Louie Domingue into the elite in the NHL.

He won’t have an easy road to traverse, with the Coyotes arena issues, and all the changes that have taken place in a short period of time, but it seems like the Arizona Coyotes have their man.

Now, let’s see what he can do to bring this team out of mediocrity and into the playoffs once again.


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