Saturday, January 26, 2019

Rick Tocchet Autographed Card

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I thought we could take the opportunity, during the NHL All-Star break, to look at Rick Tocchet's job as head coach of the Arizona Coyotes midway through his second season - possibly midway through his tenure, who knows?

Last season, the Coyotes finished with a 29-41-12 record, "good" for the eighth and final spot in the Pacific division. This was whiz "fancy" stats kid GM John Chayka's second full season with the team - a second major overhaul.

This year, so far, the team stands at 23-23-4, in sixth place in the league's weakest division, just one point ahead of the Edmonton Oilers, and six ahead of the Los Angeles Kings. Its leading scorer is sophomore Clayton Keller who, at 35 points in 50 games, places 90th in the league, meaning there are on average three players (an entire line!) per other team ahead of him. Keller is also -14, one better than star defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (-15). That puts Keller 598th in the NHL, and OEL 806th. Out of 825 players who have suited up for at least a game this season.

Star goaltender Antti Raanta is out for the season having just played 12 games (5-6 record with a 2.88 GAA and .906 save percentage, middling backup numbers anyway), leaving Darcy Kuemper and Calvin Pickard to shoulder the workload.

Compared to the two teams within their reach - the Vancouver Canucks with Jacob Markstrom and the Anaheim Ducks with the best goalie this year in John Gibson - it seems like the 'Yotes are bringing a plastic spoon to a gun fight.

I'm not sure if Tocchet has what it takes to compete with the best head coaches in the business - the likes of Barry Trotz, Jon Cooper, Peter Laviolette, Ken Hitchcock, Claude Julien, John Tortorella, and Guy Boucher, heck even the unemployed Alain Vigneault and Darryl Sutter, or the KHL-exiled Bob Hartley - but I do feel like he's not given the best tools to give it his best shot, unlike his days coaching the Tampa Bay Lightning when he had a Hall of Famer (Martin St-Louis) and three perennial All-Stars and award-winners (Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards and a young Victor Hedman).

We'll see in due time how he fares.

In the meantime, here's a blast from the past, Tocchet wearing the alternate captain's "A" while playing for the Prince Of Wales Conference at the 42nd All-Star Game in Chicago:
That's card #311 from Pro Set's 1991-92 Series 1 set (the entirely French Canadian version). Those were nice All-Star Game uniforms!

Of note, Tocchet had a goal (assisted by Pat Verbeek and Joe Sakic) and an assist (on a goal by Kevin  Stevens) in an 11-5 loss to the Clarence Campbell Conference in that game, which was his third of four All-Star Games (1989, 1990, 1991 and 1993).

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