Canucks fire head coach Boudreau, replace him with Tocchet
The Vancouver Canucks dismissed head coach Bruce Boudreau and hired Rick Tocchet in his stead, the team announced Sunday.
Tocchet, who's now the 21st bench boss in franchise history, is joined by assistant coach Adam Foote and defensive development coach Sergei Gonchar. Assistant coach Trent Cull was also relieved of his duties.
"We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Bruce and Trent for their contributions to this organization," general manager Patrik Allvin said in a press release. "We appreciate their dedication and wish them nothing but the best moving forward. This was not an easy decision to make but one that we felt was necessary for this franchise."
Tocchet was most recently the head coach of the 2020-21 Arizona Coyotes, who finished in fifth place of the realigned West Division with a record of 24-26-6 during the pandemic-shortened campaign. He and the Coyotes mutually agreed to part ways at the conclusion of that season.
He joined TNT as an analyst at the beginning of the 2021-22 campaign.
"Rick Tocchet brings a wealth of knowledge to this team from both a coach and player perspective," Allvin said. "He has had more than two decades of coaching experience, guiding teams of various styles."
Tocchet compiled an all-time coaching record of 178-200-60 over six seasons, including four in the desert. Two of his teams (the Coyotes in 2018-19 and 2019-20) finished their campaigns over .500.
The 58-year-old has only made the playoffs once, losing in the opening round to the Colorado Avalanche in 2020 after eliminating the Nashville Predators in the qualifying round.
Tocchet began his NHL head coaching career with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2008-09. He won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 2016 and 2017 as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Canucks have struggled mightily this season and lost 10 of their last 12 games. They occupy sixth place in the Pacific Division at 18-25-3 and sit 14 points out of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Vancouver went 50-40-13 with Boudreau at the helm. He led the Canucks to a stunning turnaround last season after taking over for the fired Travis Green in December 2021. They went 32-15-10 after the coaching change and only missed the playoffs by five points.
The 68-year-old became a fan favorite during the run and retained that status amid the Canucks' struggles this season. Fans started chanting, "Bruce, there it is," in his honor in 2021-22. They did so again Saturday night during Boudreau's final game behind Vancouver's bench, after which he was clearly emotional.
Boudreau said he and the players shared a moment after the final buzzer sounded Saturday.
"I just had 15 of them come up to me, and we were all crying together, which is silly for us men to do sometimes," he said. "I think they would have went through a wall for me, and as a coach, that's all you can ask for, quite frankly."
Reports of Boudreau's imminent firing had been circling for the past couple weeks. The veteran head coach posited his own theory for the delay Saturday.
"I don't know the reasoning why I'm still here. Maybe it's because the next games are Chicago, Seattle, and Columbus for the new group," he said. "Good luck."
Seven of the Canucks' last eight opponents are currently in a playoff spot.
The incessant rumors contributed to a tumultuous time for the Canucks. Defenseman Tyler Myers told reporters that the outside noise impacted his team's performance during Friday's 4-1 loss to the Avalanche, while rearguard Luke Schenn said his teammates were "speechless" after failing to get a win for Boudreau against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.
Boudreau has had to navigate his way through a handful of emotional media availabilities about his future over the past few days. He told reporters Friday he'd "be a fool" to say he didn't know about his precarious job status before tearfully cutting the scrum short.
The grizzled bench boss was in his 15th season as an NHL coach. He piloted over 1,000 games and earned 10 playoff berths. Boudreau took the Anaheim Ducks to the Western Conference Final in 2015.
He owns an all-time coaching record of 617-342-128.