With their season complete, the Arizona Coyotes announced they have parted ways with head coach Rick Tocchet. The two sides opted to mutually part ways as the team failed to reach the playoffs this year after Tocchet, whose contract was set to expire on June 1, led them to a 24-26-6 record. The Coyotes will begin their search for a new head coach immediately.
“After meeting with Rick, we have agreed that a coaching change is in the best interest of the club,” said general manager Bill Armstrong. “This was a very difficult decision, but we believe that it is time for a new direction and new leadership. Rick is a very good coach and an incredible person, and we sincerely appreciate all his hard work and dedication to the Coyotes the past four years. We are grateful for everything that he has done for our organization and wish him the best of luck in the future.”
The 57-year-old Tocchet is the second head coach to hit the free agent market. The Columbus Blue Jackets mutually agreed to part ways with John Tortorella late Saturday as well. The coach was hired by Arizona back in 2017 and spent four years as the team’s head coach, reaching the playoffs last year, but losing in the first round. He was a highly sought-after coaching candidate back in 2017 after serving as assistant coach with Pittsburgh during their 2016 & 2017 Stanley Cup Champion runs. Tocchet finished his tenure as Arizona’s head coach with a record of 125-131-34 in 290 games.
“It’s been an honor to coach the Coyotes the past four seasons,” said Tocchet. “I have great respect and admiration for all the players I coached in Arizona, along with my coaching staff, the medical staff, the equipment managers, the PR staff and the team services staff. They are the best in the NHL, and I appreciate all their help and hard work. I also want to thank the fans of the Valley for all their support. I have loved living, playing, and coaching in Arizona and this place will always be special to me.”
Like Tortorella, Tocchet could be a highly sought-after commodity on the coaching free agent market, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger, as several teams could consider him, including the expansion Seattle Kraken. Other teams had been in the mix in hiring him back in 2017, including the Buffalo Sabres, who also will be looking for a head coach this offseason.