Coyotes head coach Andre Tourigny eager to give Arizona a ‘fresh start’

Jul 1, 2021, 3:10 PM

(Arizona Coyotes Photo)...

(Arizona Coyotes Photo)

(Arizona Coyotes Photo)

Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong went into Arizona’s coaching search with veteran NHL assistant and junior coach Andre Tourigny’s name already in mind to fill the vacancy left behind from the team’s parting of ways with Rick Tocchet.

Armstrong considered Tourigny a secret in the coaching ranks initially, but after digging deeper, the coach was anything but, leading the GM to pull the trigger on the hire.

“Probably the best thing about him is his ability to teach and bring young talent of the forefront,” Armstrong said during Tourigny’s introductory press conference on Thursday. “We’re excited about him leading this franchise into a new era.

“He has a proven track record developing young talent, but not only developing young talent, getting young talent to win. … He’s a man of great passion and excitement for the game of hockey. What I love about him is he brings accountability and likability.”

Tourigny’s vision is simple, yet meaningful.

He’s not one to dwell on players’ past transgressions. Instead, he wants to enter the new season with a clean slate. It’s about grabbing life by the horns.

“I want the players to see it as a fresh start. I don’t want to hold them accountable with what happened in the past,” Tourigny said. “I think in some point in life when you have the chance to have a fresh start, to prove yourself, you control your destiny.

“That’s what I want from the players. I want the players to know it’s not about what they did in the past. … I want them to arriver here with the philosophy of, ‘Prove myself. It’s a new coach, new area, new culture an I want to prove myself.’ … A big thing for me is holding players accountable.”

From what transpired last season, the returning Coyotes couldn’t agree more with Tourigny’s thought process.

Tourigny, also known as “The Bear,” takes over a team that could be headed toward more major changes. The Coyotes made the postseason for the first time since 2012 in last season’s pandemic “bubble,” but fell off last season.

Arizona held the fourth playoff spot heading into the final month of the 2020-21 season before losing 12 of 15 games to fall out of contention. The Coyotes have numerous unrestricted free agents, including goalie Antti Raanta and defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson, and third-leading scorer Conor Garland is a restricted free agent.

Tourigny wants a team that is relentless and is tough to play against with a lot of pace. He also wants to connect with his players, while creating a culture of accountability for all to follow.

“For me, I always say rules have no feelings. When you start to put feeling into a rule like, ‘He had a flat tire this morning that’s why he’s late.’ No, no, no, you’re late or you’re not late,” Tourigny said. ”

“When you start with feelings now you create two sets of rules. … You create a situation where, ‘Why is my excuse not as good as his excuse?’ Now you need a genius to deal with that. I’m not a genius. It’s black and white.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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