Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Rick Tocchet Autograph Card

Rick Tocchet.

I wasn't a huge fan of his during his playing days, when he was a power forward comparable to Wendel Clark, Dino Ciccarelli, Brian Bellows and Ray Sheppard, a notch below the pre-eminent one of the 1980s (Cam Neely) and the perfected versions of the 1990s (Eric Lindros, Todd Bertuzzi).

That being said - and even when contextualizing that his best seasons took place between 1987 and 1993, at the height of NHL scoring prowess and right before the Dead Puck Era - one has to give him his dues: fans and head coaches loved him, as can be attested by his four (1989, 1990, 1991 and 1993) All-Star Game appearances; he reached the 40-goal plateau three times, twice with the Philadelphia Flyers (45 in 1988-89 and 40 in 1990-91) and once with the Pittsburgh Penguins (48 in 1992-93, which ranked third on the team behind Mario Lemieux's 69 and Kevin Stevens' 55); he surpassed the 100-point mark in 1992-93, one of four members of the Pens to do so that year, with Jaromir Jagr's 94 just shy of making it five; he won the Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 1991-92; and he holds the Flyers' career mark for Gordie Howe hat tricks (with 9), as well as the entire NHL's (with 18).

He also surpassed the 200-PIM mark four times during his career, and had at least 150 penalty minutes nine times.

He played for the Flyers (twice), the Pens, two half-seasons with the Los Angeles Kings and the same with the Boston Bruins and Phoenix Coyotes while I stopped actively following hockey, before going back to Philly to bookend a career that saw him score 440 regular-season goals with 512 assists for 952 points in 1144 games, with 2972 penalty minutes around all that production.

His playoff contributions amounted to 52 goals, 60 assists and 112 points with 471 penalty minutes in 145 games. He reached the Conference Finals twice with the Flyers, in 1987 and 2000.

After his playing career, he became an assistant coach (to Wayne Gretzky) with the Coyotes. His tenure was most notable for having been named the leader in a gambling ring that put Gretzky's wife, Janet Jones, in the spotlight in 2006.

He followed that up with a head coaching stint with the Tampa Bay Lightning, missing the playoffs twice with terrible records:
Courtesy of Wikipedia
Keep in mind those teams included Martin St-Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos up front both years, and Alex Tanguay on left wing and Victor Hedman on defense the second...

And yet, now that he's helped the Pens to consecutive Cup wins as an assistant to head coach Mike Sullivan, he interviewed for many teams this summer, eventually finding a fit back to a two-time stomping ground - the Arizona Coyotes. None of the articles I've read mention how long his contract is for; then again, he's already the franchise's 18th head coach, the 7th since its move to the desert.

Speaking of which, here he is wearing the team's "Peyote Coyote" jersey design ("dark" away version), on the silver signed insert version of card #105 from In The Game's 1998-99 Be A Player set:
I miss those uniforms...

No comments:

Post a Comment