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Arizona Coyotes, head coach Rick Tocchet mutually agree to part ways

Head coach Rick Tocchet of the Arizona Coyotes directs his players in the second period against the Vegas Golden Knights during an exhibition game prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on July 30, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

The Arizona Coyotes and head coach Rick Tocchet have mutually agreed to part ways, the team announced on Sunday.

98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s John Gambadoro first reported it earlier on Sunday morning.

“After meeting with Rick, we have agreed that a coaching change is in the best interest of the club,” Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong said in a press release.

“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 Coyotes wrapped up a 24-26-6 season with a win on Saturday.

Tocchet departs having coached the Coyotes for four seasons, with a combined 125-131-34 and a single playoff appearance in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season.

“It’s been an honor to coach the Coyotes the past four seasons,” Tocchet said in the release. “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.”

His tenure included tumult outside of his control. The team’s majority ownership was transferred from Anthony Barroway to Alex Meruelo in 2019.

This past season, the Coyotes saw general manager John Chayka voluntarily leave his post in July 2020 — just more than a week before Arizona came out of a pandemic-caused season suspension to begin a playoff qualifying series against the Nashville Predators.

The team replaced Chayka — who was later suspended by the NHL due to his pursuing of other opportunities while still GM — with current general manager Bill Armstrong, who left his assistant general manager job with the St. Louis Blues.

Tocchet signed a four-year contract with Arizona in July 2017, replacing Dave Tippett. The Coyotes, then led by Chayka, hired Tocchet away from an assistant post with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

He entered the job bringing head coaching experience with the Tampa Bay Lightning, where Tocchet posted a 53-69-26 record from 2008-10.

Tocchet is the sixth head coach in franchise history since the Coyotes moved to Arizona in 1996.

He had history in the Valley as well, having played for the Coyotes from 1997-2000 and appearing in 213 of his 1,144 career games with the team.

Tocchet also had an assistant post with the then-Phoenix Coyotes in 2005 and led the team for five games while head coach Wayne Gretzky took a leave to be with his sick mother.


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