The new 2020-21 season is upon us and it seems fitting to get some fans’ views of how the Arizona Coyotes are doing. Much may be tied to their head coach Rick Tocchet. This may be a first on lastwordonhockey.com, so let’s see how it goes.
Arizona Coyotes Fans Are Losing Faith in Rick Tocchet
Every NHL team more than likely has a Facebook group where fans speak their minds (and then some) about their team. The Arizona Coyotes fans are no different. It is a place for fans to sound off about things they’re upset about with the team. Lately, it seems like more and more followers of the Coyotes are losing their patience with head coach Rick Tocchet and the plight of the team. Sure, they made it to the play-in for the pandemic affected playoffs, but only because the rules for qualifying teams was changed drastically.
Is Rick Tocchet on His Way Out?
Many followers of the Coyotes have had numerous disappointments from an owner filing bankruptcy to not making the playoffs for seven years. They’ve witnessed the greatest player in the modern era, Wayne Gretzky coach the team no where to the level of his gigantic playing career. Disappointment for a Coyotes’ fan is like saying it’s hot here in the desert in July. So, is this current 2020-21 team going to be any different? Thus far with a 3-4-1 record things aren’t looking all that attractive. This year is a whole new senario with back-to-back games against the same opponent… due again to the pandemic.
Some Fans Comments
This one is from Jacob Hylands, a member of the Arizona Coyotes official fan facebook group wrote:
“In a hockey game there is so much that happens that we don’t get to see watching from the stands and especially on TV. The ice chatter, the tiny jabs of the stick to soft spots in pads, and so on. It’s the leaders of the team to recognize when certain players are being targeted. Even more so, the coach should always protect his players by catching subtle plays that later progress to outright dirty plays.
Tocchet fails at this more than any coach in the league. Which is bizarre to me given his play style.
Example from tonight before Conor Garland was boarded (yes, Garland put himself in a bad spot, but the player who hit him should have let up).
At the faceoff circle, Garland receives a wack on his skates before puck drop and even loses balance. The linesman had to delay puck drop because of it, which means everyone on both teams watched our best player get whacked. Nothing that’s going to hurt him, but still edgy when against the team’s best player.
Then the puck is dropped. Garland almost immediately gets crossed checked by the same player and goes face first to the ice. Again, everyone either sees it or hears about it through chatter on the bench. From the Coyotes coaches or leaders of the team, a very simple solution is available. Next faceoff our biggest guy lines up with the player that hit Garland. Nothing needs to be said, just BEING THERE sends the message.
The team leaders and coaches failed to do so, as a result the Anaheim Ducks realize they can do whatever they want to Garland without recourse (aside from penalties of course). Three shifts later Garland gets boarded. Had a message been sent earlier, that hit never happens, even if Garland puts himself in that dangerous position.
Time and time again we see this with the Coyotes. Literally every team gets to walk over our best players without repercussions. This is a failure on the coach and leaders in the locker room.”
Here’s Yet Another Displeased Fan
Susan Periwinkle Plimley wrote:
“Again-it’s TOCCHET that’s the problem. He won’t let anyone stand up/enforce/retaliate/anything! TOCCHET was a goon and won’t let anyone willing to do anything play! He NEEDS to be replaced now!” #FireTocchet
And Another From a Fan Who Thinks the Team is ‘Soft’
Rick Talazus wrote:
“With no disrespect to our Yotes, we are considered to be a soft team around the league. With players the size of Garland, Clayton Keller, and even Nick Schmaltz, we need players that will make the other team think twice about throwing them to the ice like John Gibson did last night. Look at Wayne Simmonds who signed this year with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he has made it clear that you don’t mess with teammates. The same is true with Ryan Reaves with the Vegas Golden Knights and Tom Wilson of the Washington Capitals. We just don’t have anyone like that and it’s going to get our guys hurt. I think it’s embarrassing that the entire team on the ice didn’t go after Gibson after that stunt last night.”
Perhaps the Most Upset Fan Lets it Rip!
Millie Goodman Bessey wrote:
“I lost any faith in him (Tocchet) last year during the downward slide. Yes, I know Darcy Kuemper was the piece that held that puzzle together and you can blame it all you want on a goal scorer. That doesn’t cut it. He had Taylor Hall who played well or maybe outplayed everyone with him but there for a while, Keller was good with Hall. Phil Kessel should have been a scratch and he wasn’t. That showed that he valued Phil and his streak more than he did the success of his team. It was a very telling faux pas in my book.
I remember working in banking and the VP’s telling us that there was no such thing as a bad employee but there were always lousy managers. They said it was our job as managers to get the best out of everyone on our team and along the way if there were team members who weren’t cut out for the job they were doing, it was also your job as a manager to move them to a place where they would find success.
I think about that constantly with Tocchet. We had Michael Grabner who should have played, Carl Soderberg who if coupled on a line with Hall should have been a top scoring line. Derek Stepan underperformed last year and so did Brad Richardson. If you are coaching or managing you look at that and say, sorry butthead, you’re getting 8 minutes tonight and Garland is getting 19! Take a seat, son.”
Missed Call by Coyotes Cost Them a Point
When the coaching staff let video coach Steve Peters go they really lost someone who would invariably catch missed offsides calls and bring them to the attention of the coaching staff. So, what happened in the first game against the Anaheim Ducks? A missed icing and Tocchet and his crew didn’t even challenge it. Peters would have caught it. The Ducks then scored when the icing was not called, and won 1-0.
It Seems That Rick Tocchet Isn’t a Fan Favourite
In Tocchet’s three plus years in the desert he has collected a 104-109-29 record. His possible points percentage (points earned divided by possible points) is .490. When one compares that to his predecessor, Dave Tippett it’s easy to see the Coyotes’ fans displeasure. Tippett earned a .520 possible points percentage in his eight years in Arizona. That included two seasons with 97 and 95 points and one with 107 points. He also took them to the 2011-12 Western Conference Final where his team lost to the Los Angeles Kings.
Tocchet seems to have taken this team as far as he can, and perhaps it’s time for a change. His contract expires after this season, and thus far new general manager Bill Armstrong has been patient. Armstrong hasn’t said much about his head coach and we are waiting to see what his plans are for keeping or removing Tocchet.
Of course, fans don’t decide if a player stays or goes as well as whether the team should dismiss a head coach. It just seems with some other better choices to be behind the bench, Tocchet hasn’t done much to deserve a new contract. It’s been mentioned in a previous article that Gerard Gallant is still out there looking for a head coaching job. His record is even more impressive. His possible points percentage with Vegas was great… at .601. In his eight full seasons as a head coach he has a .550 percentage. How else can this Coyotes’ team excel? They need a head coach who can take a bunch of castoffs like Gallant did in Vegas and turn them into a Stanley Cup Final team.
Sorry, Rick it’s Time to GO
Now that the Coyotes have a skilled and competent general manager in Bill Armstrong, it’s time to get a head coach who can take the boys to where every hockey player wants to be… the Stanley Cup! Tocchet did his thing and perhaps made some progress, but this franchise needs more than some progress, it needs results. Armstrong is evaluating what his team is all about since he is relatively new. Don’t doubt that he is absorbing what he is seeing. He knows how to build this team into a winner, but keeping Rick Tocchet is just not in that formula.