Welcome Matt: Canucks' Tocchet tasked with weeding out players

Feb 17 2023, 9:34 pm

welcome matt

We are learning more and more about new Vancouver Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet, and the more you listen the more you hear echoes of a former head coach here in the city.

Thursday’s media session was particularly biting, with Tocchet criticizing his team’s lack of communication, shot-blocking, physicality, and intensity in practice. If you closed your eyes and imagined a New England accent, he could be ex-Canucks boss John Tortorella.

Because like Torts, what Tocchet is doing here is trying to install a different way of playing hockey, and create an identity for the club.

Effectively, this is a training camp playing out over the final third of this NHL season. It’s no fun, and Tocchet said he’s prepared for the pain. If he needs to be an ass-kicker and an asshole, he’s prepared for that, too.

We’ll see if the players are, because what’s becoming clear is that Tocchet is the Canucks coach as much to weed players out as to win games in the here and now.

It’s also becoming clear that he’s a meat-and-potatoes devotee.

As much as he talks about board battles and wall work, he also seems to be preferring heavier players like forwards Jack Studnicka and Phil Di Giuseppe, while administering tough love to skilled winger Andrei Kuzmenko — who to his credit responded well to a few days in the doghouse.

Our contributor Frank Corrado, who had Tocchet as an assistant coach in Pittsburgh, said he didn’t think him too old school, but it’s becoming clear that, like Tortorella, only so many are going to make it through boot camp.

Matthew SekeresMatthew Sekeres

+ Offside
+ Hockey
+ Canucks
+ Sekeres and Price