Tocchet out as Coyotes coach after four seasons

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Rick Tocchet agreed to leave the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday after four seasons as coach. No replacement was named.

Arizona finished 24-26-6 this season and failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the eight-team Honda West Division.

“It’s been an honor 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.”

Tocchet’s contract expires June 30. He was 125-131-34 for Arizona after he was named coach July 11, 2017, replacing Dave Tippett.

The Coyotes made the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season after finishing 11th in the Western Conference with a .529 points percentage (33-29-8). They defeated the Nashville Predators in four games in the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers, then lost to the Colorado Avalanche in five games in the best-of-7 Western Conference First Round. It was the first time the Coyotes had made the playoffs and won a postseason series since the 2011-12 season.

“After meeting with Rick, we have agreed that a coaching change is in the best interest of the club,” Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong said. “This was a very difficult decision, but we believe that it is time for a new direction and new leadership. Rick is a very good coach and an incredible person, and we sincerely appreciate all his hard work and dedication to the Coyotes the past four years. We are grateful for everything that he has done for our organization and wish him the best of luck in the future.”

Prior to being hired by Arizona, Tocchet was an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins for three seasons. His tenure with the Coyotes was his second coaching job after coaching the Tampa Bay Lightning from 2008-10.

Tocchet played for six teams in 18 NHL seasons, the last in 2001-02. The forward scored 952 points (440 goals, 512 assists) in 1,144 games and won the Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 1992.

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