Possible Replacements for Arizona Coyotes Head Coach Rick Tocchet

Rick Tocchet

The Arizona Coyotes have not renewed Rick Tocchet‘s contract yet, and he could become an available head coach free to sign elsewhere. On July 11, 2017  Tocchet replaced Dave Tippett who had been the coach for eight years in the desert. Tocchet’s four-year deal expires at season’s end and new general manager Bill Armstrong has not committed to extend Rick Tocchet as his bench coach just yet. He has stated that he will wait until the season is completed before deciding. Armstrong didn’t make any trade deadline deals and wants to see how far his team can go with the current roster.

If Rick Tocchet Leaves the Arizona Coyotes Have Other Choices

There are some choices out there to replace Rick Tocchet, if he leaves his coaching position. Let’s go through some possibilities and see what kind of talent is there for Bill Armstrong to choose from.

Head Coaches Available at the Present Time

Gerard Gallant

He has to be on the top of the list if the Coyotes are seeking a new head coach. Of course, other teams may have the same idea. The Seattle Kraken will certainly entertain the idea of adding Gallant behind their bench. He took the now very successful Vegas Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final in his first year as head coach. Gallant knows how to build a team, make deals and get what is needed out of his roster to win. He is a winner.

He also fits into what the Coyotes need to do to improve their team. There really hasn’t been much progress under Tocchet. Some say, “well he got us to the playoffs last season.” That is true, but in the pandemic shortened season, the Coyotes only qualified for the postseason due to the NHL allowing 24 teams to compete in the playoffs. The team was not headed for a playoff spot before play was halted. This season, the Yotes have flirted with getting to the playoffs, but currently have gone south losing eight of 10 at a crucial time of the season. They are fighting with the St. Louis Blues for the final playoff spot.

Gallant knows how to get every ounce of effort from his group and would be an ideal candidate to get this team moving forward. Of course, the competition for his services will be intense. Seattle may have the advantage here.

Claude Julien

With an impressive 667 wins, 445 losses, 10 ties and 152 overtime losses Julien is very experienced. And, perhaps that is exactly what the Coyotes need. After all, Tocchet came in with just 148 games behind the bench while with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins for two seasons when they won the Cup. Julien won the Jack Adams award in 2009 and a Cup with the Boston Bruins in 2011. It’s that kind of winning culture that the Coyotes really lack in a coach. Now, it’s up to Armstrong if Julien is his man.

Bruce Boudreau

Boudreau is another very experienced and talented coach. He did it for 13 years before being relieved of his duties with the Minnesota Wild last season. He had been their head coach from the 2016-17 season and while only getting to the playoffs twice, he still has a better track record than Rick Tocchet. After being fired from the Washington Capitals, he took the job with the Anaheim Ducks where he led them to four consecutive Pacific Division titles. His career coaching record is impressive with 567 wins, 302 losses and 115 overtime losses. Let’s just say he knows what he’s doing and works well with both veteran players and young prospects. He’d be a great choice.

Wild Cards

These head coaches could be available, but more than likely will not. Still, would be in the mix of choices left for Bill Armstrong. Many factors go into choosing a new head coach, and it’s fairly certain that Armstrong wants his own man behind the bench to lead the franchise going forward.

Rod Brind’Amour

Brind’Amour seems happy with his current gig coaching the Carolina Hurricanes. He’s been very successful in keeping them competitive as proven by their Central Division leading 68 points as of this writing. Talks haven’t gotten serious with management as to what would keep Brind’Amour in Carolina, but it seems to be a long shot that he would leave. His record is admirable with 115 wins, 64 losses, 17 overtime losses. The big question is will the Carolina ownership give him the money he deserves? If not, he could be out there looking for a better opportunity.

Travis Green

Green is having a tough last year of his contract with the Vancouver Canucks faltering in the tough North Division. They still have 14 games remaining, but are eight points out of the last playoff position. Green has been given the kiss of death from ownership that his job is safe. We all know what that means. Having been a former Coyotes’ player like Rick Tocchet he may hold some attraction to taking a job in the desert. His coaching record stats are a bit behind the other candidates listed here. He has a 121-123-31 record but did manage to take the Canucks to the second round last season losing to the Vegas Golden Knights in seven games.

Final Analysis For Rick Tocchet Replacement

A coaching change is only part of the problem Armstrong will have in making the Coyotes a more competitive team. He needs better players and that usually comes from the draft. Unfortunately, he inherited a mess in that area and needs to pick up the pieces and build as much as possible. His skill at drafting good players is something the team really needs and without draft picks to work with, his hands are tied… for now. With the offseason approaching, he may be able to do some wheelin’ and dealin’ to supplement the lack of draft choices.

One thing is certain, with about $32 million in cap space next season, the faces in training camp may look a lot different for the 2021-22 season.

Let’s see what Armstrong can do. The Coyotes’ fans will be anticipating some improvement. Like players who know how to dig deep and win vital games. Nothing like what was witnessed on Tuesday night against a weak San Jose Sharks team who had lost eight straight. Going down by four goals and allowing a miscue in the first 17 seconds is not what builds championship teams. Armstrong may have his broom out, and who could blame him.

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