The Arizona Coyotes and head coach Rick Tocchet have mutually parted ways, according to a team announcement released Sunday.
“After meeting with Rick, we have agreed that a coaching change is in the best interest of the club,” general manager 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.”
Tocchet’s contract was due to expire on June 30.
This season, Arizona finished with a 24-26-6 record that put them out of playoff contention.
“It’s been an honour to coach the Coyotes the past four seasons,” Tocchet said. “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.”
He was hired as head coach by the Coyotes in July of 2017, replacing Dave Tippett.
Tocchet posted a 125-131-34 behind the bench in that run. His Coyotes made the playoffs last season after finishing 11th in the Western Conference, defeating the Nashville Predators in the Qualifying Round before losing to the Colorado Avalanche in the first round.
After his playing career, Tocchet’s coaching career began in the NHL with a run as assistant coach for the Avalanche in 2002-2003. He became an assistant for Phoenix in the summer of 2005 and served as interim head coach for five games in Wayne Gretzky’s absence.
In July of 2008, Tocchet was hired as associate coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was bumped up to interim head coach after a poor run from Barry Melrose and eventually lost the interim tag and signed a two year deal with Tampa. He was fired by new ownership in April of 2010 and signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins in June of 2014 as an assistant coach. He won two Stanley Cups as a member of the Penguins’ coaching staff.
Also Sunday, the Columbus Blue Jackets officially announced that John Tortorella would not return as head coach next season.
Pic: Rob Schumacher/Arizona Republic