Arizona Coyotes first-year coach Rick Tocchet has added John MacLean and Scott Allen as assistant coaches to his staff, GM John Chayka confirmed on Wednesday. John Gambadoro of 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station, first reported the two names on Tuesday.
Tocchet said he interviewed about 30 candidates before settling on the two men who will round out his staff. The Coyotes also announced that Mike Van Ryn will take over as the head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Tucson Roadrunners. John Slaney and Steve Potvin will join him as assistants while Mark Lamb and Mark Hardy will not return. Van Ryn has been with the Coyotes since Aug. 24, 2016, when he joined the organization as the team’s development coach.
“You get a comfort level when you talk to a certain guy a couple of times and he understands your philosophy,” said Tocchet, who also spoke to NHL GMs and coaches about MacLean and Allen. “I just came to a point where I felt comfortable with these two guys.”
MacLean began his NHL coaching career as an assistant for the New Jersey Devils in 2002 before spending a year with the Lowell Devils. In 2010, he was named coach of the New Jersey Devils but was fired after a 9-22-2 start to the season. He joined the Hurricanes as an assistant in December of 2011 and remained on Carolina’s staff until 2014.
MacLean, 52, spent his first 15 NHL seasons as a player with the Devils as well, and he later played for the San Jose Sharks, New York Rangers and Dallas Stars. He has been working as an analyst for MSG Networks but will now assume the duties of coaching forwards, the power play and some 5-on-5 systems.
“The one thing they have is what every team is always looking for. They have a lot of skill,” MacLean said of the Coyotes. “A lot of skill, a lot of talent and so with that you can tweak a few areas.
“Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a big plus for any power play right off the bat. Once you see that on the back end, the puck usually goes through that defenseman a lot as you’ve seen throughout the league, whether it’s (Kris) Letang in Pittsburgh, (Erik) Karlsson in Ottawa. You need that point person.”
Allen, 51, played minor-league hockey for 10 seasons before immediately transitioning to coaching following his retirement in 1996.
From 2009-2012, Allen was on head coach Scott Gordon’s coaching staff with the New York Islanders. He returned to the AHL for the next few seasons before he was named an assistant for the Florida Panthers in June 2016.
Allen will coach the defense and the penalty killing units. Last season, the Devils finished second in the NHL in PK percentage at 85.3 percent. Allen said the Devils were also tops in the league defending odd-man rushes, in terms of shots allowed.
“A lot of it honestly comes from research and development,” he said when asked of his success in those areas. “I watched thousands of hours of video, situations and trial and error, testing what works and what doesn’t and building off that. I pride myself on putting the time in, and trying to be as educated as possible when making decisions.”
The Coyotes could use help on both special teams. The finished 27th in PK percentage last season at 77.3; 26th on the power play at 16.2.
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