A new face will be behind the bench for the Coyotes next season as Rick Tocchet was named their head coach Tuesday.
Tocchet, who just finished up winning his second straight Stanley Cup as an assistant with the Penguins, played with the Coyotes from 1997 until late in the 2000 season.
“He checked a lot of the boxes,” newly-promoted Coyotes president of hockey operations John Chayka told Doug and Wolf Wednesday on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station. “He’s a teacher, he’s a communicator, he had success as a player, he had success now as a coach in different capacities.
“He’s got a presence, when he walks in the room, he owns the room, he demands excellence, he demands accountability and I just think for this group right now for where we’re at I think we needed someone to bring it all together and I think he has the ability to do that.”
Tocchet has limited head coaching experience, getting the nod during the beginning of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2008 season and keeping the position for just one additional year.
The 18-year NHL vet has some work to do with the Coyotes, a team that has failed to make the playoffs the last five seasons and finished last season with a 35-39-8 record.
Last season was even more of a disappointment for Arizona because of the regression that Max Domi and Anthony Duclair showed compared to their 2015 campaign.
Domi sat out 23 games with a hand injury and saw his goals cut in half while his points dropped from 52 to 38. Duclair was sent down to the AHL for over a month last season due to scoring struggles, he saw his goals trimmed down from 20 to just five and his points cut from 44 to 15.
It will be Tocchet’s job to try and help Domi and Duclair regain their form from two years ago.
“He pushed people,” Chayka said. “He pushed and he was aggressive and he was firm when he needed to be, and he put pressure on people to get the most out of them. I think that’s what this group and people in general are looking for, they want to be pushed, they want to raise their level of play.
“They have certain expectations of themselves and what they believe they can do and they want someone that can help to those levels.”
The Coyotes’ young team including Domi, Duclair, Dylan Strome along with prospects Christian Fischer and Clayton Keller has tremendous talent, but they need to be in the right system to succeed.
Chayka noted how it was very important to him that Tocchet wants the young guys be to creative and embrace their speed and skill.
But instead of just telling Chayka how his system can work, Tocchet included “concrete examples” from championship teams.
“We’ve got a lot of talented players,” Chayka said. “We’ve got a lot of youth.
“Everyone wants to have a firm understanding of where they stand, what their role is on the team, how they can progress and add more value, and I think that’s where he’s had a lot of success over his career.”
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