NHL Coyotes split with coach Tocchet after missing playoffs

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Rick Tocchet will not return as coach of the Arizona Coyotes, the NHL club announced Sunday, a day after ending outside the playoffs for the eighth time in nine seasons.

Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong said the team and Tocchet mutually agreed to part ways, with the coach's contract expiring June 30.

"After meeting with Rick, we have agreed that a coaching change is in the best interest of the club," said Armstrong. "This was a very difficult decision, but we believe that it is time for a new direction and new leadership."

Tocchet, a 57-year-old Canadian, was named the Coyotes coach in July 2011 and guided Arizona to a record of 125-131 with 34 overtime losses. Last season, he coached the Coyotes into the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

This season, Arizona contended into the final days of the campaign but finished 24-26-6 and lost out to St. Louis for the fourth and final playoff berth in the West division.

"It has been an honor to coach the Coyotes the past four seasons," said Tocchet. "This place will always be special to me."

Tocchet won a Stanley Cup as a player with Pittsburgh in 1992 and helped bring the Penguins two more as an assistant coach in 2016 and 2017. He has 178 wins in six NHL seasons as a coach, four at Arizona and two with Tampa Bay from 2008-10.