One of the most in-demand coaching candidates this offseason is Rick Tocchet, who has already been linked to the New York Rangers, Seattle Kraken, and Buffalo Sabres. Add the Columbus Blue Jackets to that list, as Craig Morgan of AZ Coyotes Insider reports that Tocchet will interview there next week. The former Coyotes head coach interviewed with the Rangers today and will meet with the Sabres on Thursday, according to Morgan.
The reason Tocchet quickly parted ways with the Coyotes at the end of the season was to start taking interviews and it appears as though his name is on the shortlist of almost every vacancy in the league. Of course, wherever he ends up, Tocchet will be looking to turn around his head coaching career after struggling to find any real success at each of his first two stops.
In 2008-09, Tocchet replaced Barry Melrose as head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning after 16 games and would last through the following season. He had a 53-69-26 record in those two seasons and missed the playoffs both years. It wasn’t until 2017 when he returned to the head coaching ranks with Arizona, but it was much of the same. He posted a 125-131-34 record with the Coyotes and only led them to the playoffs in last year’s bubble.
Make no mistake, Tocchet has plenty of respect around the league, especially from his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was known as something of a “Kessel Whisperer” there, an assistant who could get the best out of enigmatic talents. At the midpoint last year, with the Coyotes sitting at 21-16-4, a PHWA poll had him as the runaway favorite to win the Jack Adams Trophy as Coach of the Year. The team would, unfortunately, go 12-13-4 after that point and Tocchet would not receive a single vote for the award, which ended up going to Bruce Cassidy.
On his last deal, Tocchet was paid a total of $6MM over four years with the Coyotes. It seems likely that he’ll receive a raise wherever he ends up, given how more established coaches are earning nearly that much in a single year.