Rick Tocchet, who played three seasons with the Coyotes during an 18-year NHL career, returns to the franchise as the team’s new head coach.
“I’m extremely happy to be back with the Coyotes organization,” Tocchet said in a statement released by the team Tuesday. “I loved playing and coaching here in the Valley and have always considered Arizona my home. We have a great young team with a ton of talent and I’m excited about leading this group of players. I’d like to thank Mr. [Andrew] Barroway and John Chayka for this incredible opportunity. I can’t wait to get started.”
Tocchet, 53, was an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins the past three seasons, during which time the team won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships. He previously served as an assistant with the Coyotes during the 2005-06 season.
Tocchet was also an assistant with the Tampa Bay Lightning and later their head coach from 2008-10.
He replaces Dave Tippett, who parted ways with the Coyotes after an eight-year run. After making the playoffs in Tippett’s first three years, the Coyotes missed out the next five, and only the Colorado Avalanche and Vancouver Canucks had worse records last season.
Tocchet was a four-time All-Star in a career that spanned three decades (1984-2002). Tocchet played for six teams and won a Stanley Cup as a member of the Penguins in 1992. He finished with 440 goals and 512 assists in 1,144 games.
“We are very pleased to name Rick as our new head coach,” Chayka, the Coyotes’ general manager, said in a statement. “Rick is an excellent coach and a proven winner. While with the Penguins, he won a Stanley Cup as a player and two Cups as a coach. He’s experienced, knowledgeable and is a great leader and communicator. He’s also a former Coyotes player and assistant coach and the perfect fit for us. We’re thrilled to have him re-join our organization.”