The Arizona Coyotes have hired Rick Tocchet as head coach, turning over the team to a guy who helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win the two Stanley Cup titles.
The Tocchet, who spent the previous few seasons as a Pittsburgh assistant, helped the Penguins win the Stanley Cup in 1992 and played 18 seasons.
Tocchet played parts of three seasons and spent one season as an assistant.
Tocchet departure from his Coyotes coaching job didn’t figure into the decision to hire him director John Chayka stated.
“Rick was the ideal candidate by a large margin,” Chayka stated.
When he pleaded guilty in New Jersey to conspiracy and promoting gambling, Tocchet was on a leave of absence. He had been sentenced to 2 years’ probation. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said an investigation showed he had been suspended for three weeks and Tocchet’s participation in gaming wasn’t as serious as first thought.
There was no proof Tocchet.
“He is a man of integrity and character,” Chayka stated. “Any issues before are previously. It did not raise any red flags for us at all.”
Before being hired as an assistant at Tampa Bay Tocchet returned in 2008. He was head coach in Tampa Bay the following two seasons and became head coach of the Lightning that November.
But it was his work with the Penguins that raised him to replace Dave Tippett, who parted ways after eight years since the head coach of the franchise.
“He’s among the best communicators I have come across not just in hockey but likely professionally too,” Chakya stated. “… I think he could just relate to the players. He is very firm. He can motivate. He can be aggressive in his approach, but he is also that big brother type of strategy with our young players and I believe that is going to be useful moving ahead.”
Chakya stated Tocchet has a very clear idea of the style that he wants his team.
“He wants to play quickly. He would like to play aggressive. He would like to dictate time and distance,” Chakya stated.
“We had a good deal of coaches come through. They all will say something similar. I believe he had a plan of how to do it. He’d concrete examples of what that means based his time in Pittsburgh and a few more thoughts of what he is maybe seeking to do moving forward.”