A popular theme in the search for the Sabres next head coach is the playing experience of candidates. In part one we profiled Phil Housley, the Hall of Fame defenseman. In part two we’ll focus on another ex-player whose name is in the hat for the Sabres next coaching gig, and that’s Rick Tocchet.
Tocchet was drafted 121st overall in the sixth round of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers. Beginning his NHL playing career in the 1984-85 season, Tocchet gathered 39 points in 75 games with 14 goals and 25 assists. Tocchet would play in Pennsylvania for the first 10 years of his career, spending two seasons in Pittsburgh following his tenure with the Flyers. In his first season with the Pens, Tocchet won his first and only Stanley Cup as a player.
In 131 games with the Penguins Tocchet scored 62 goals, including 109 points in his first full campaign with Pittsburgh.
Tocchet played 17 seasons with various teams, including Los Angeles, Boston, Washington and Phoenix.
Tocchet retired in 2002 and the following season joined Colorado’s coaching staff. He’d stay there until after the 2005 lockout when he joined the Arizona Coyotes’ organization. While head coach Wayne Gretzky missed some time, Tocchet replaced him for five games in 05-06 as the Yotes bench boss.
It was during his time in Arizona however where Tocchet found himself in the center of a criminal investigation. Tocchet plead guilty in 2007 to charges of conspiracy, as well as running a gambling ring in New Jersey. Tocchet claimed the betting was not on hockey games but the accusations are still worthy enough to be considered in the hiring process. No word on if Tony Soprano was involved in the gambling operation.
Tocchet eventually found his way to Tampa where he’d replace coach Barry Melrose behind the Lightning bench. Four years after being fired by the Lightning Tocchet would find his way back to Pittsburgh, being named assistant coach in 2014.
It was in Pittsburgh where Tocchet won his first Stanley Cup as a coach in 2016, coincidentally the same team he won his first championship as a player with. With the Pens currently up 2-1 on the Predators in the Stanley Cup it’s a very real possibility that Tocchet can add another ring to his collection.
Tocchet can bring a winning background to the Sabres but not without his fair share of baggage. He is a strong candidate given his professional background, but his personal history is what raises questions.
What do you think about hiring Rick Tocchet as the Sabres next head coach? Send us feed back on twitter at @SabresFanatics and to me at @LukeSFBSN.
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