June 24: The Seattle Kraken will reveal their first head coach today and Ian Furness of KJR 950 in Seattle tweets that it will not be Tocchet. With the Blue Jackets and Rangers having gone in different directions, the openings are quickly closing for the free agent head coach.
June 2: The Arizona Coyotes may not have wanted to move forward with Rick Tocchet behind the bench, but they are clearly in the minority. The free agent coach continues to draw considerable interest on the open market. Tocchet has already interviewed for the vacancies of the Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, and New York Rangers, as well as for the inaugural head coach position for the expansion Seattle Kraken.
At least three of those teams are serious about Tocchet as a candidate, as Coyotes beat writer Craig Morgan reports that Tocchet had a second interview with the Rangers on Tuesday and will have second interviews with the Kraken and Blue Jackets before the end of the week. He does not mention the Sabres, who are reportedly casting a wide net for their next head coach and may not be at their second interview stage just yet. While the Kraken are still an unknown until the Expansion Draft, both the Rangers and Blue Jackets have the talent on their rosters that could allow Tocchet to find immediate success if hired.
Tocchet, 57, actually has a losing record in his NHL head coaching career and if not for the expanded 2020 postseason field would have never led a team to the playoffs. With that said, he took a bottom-dwelling Coyotes team from last in the Pacific Division in 2017-18 to a team that contended for a playoff spot late into the season in each of the past three years, never finishing lower than fifth in the division. It’s nothing spectacular, but it is far from failure. Tocchet is also known for his ability to work with star players and was beloved as an assistant coach in previous stops. A standout two-way forward during his playing days and the NHL’s all-time leader in Gordie Howe hat tricks, Tocchet has a well-rounded understanding of the game and a well-regarded coaching approach. So while his track record may not be amazing on paper, the veteran coach has clearly made enough of a name for himself that several teams are highly interested in hiring him as their next head coach.