Canucks rumoured to be after Tocchet and Gonchar as coaches

Jan 17 2023, 10:14 pm

It’s never a dull day when it comes to the Vancouver Canucks, and that was especially true on Monday.

Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford gave everyone lots to chew on, following his 45-minute press conference where he appeared to be open and honest on a number of topics.

That included head coach Bruce Boudreau and his future with the Canucks.

Rutherford admitted to looking into potential replacements for Boudreau earlier this season when the team got off to a tough start.

“There’s lots of speculation out there. Bruce is our coach now. But we got off to a slow start this year. We, as a hockey staff, we watched the coaching staff closer,” said Rutherford. “I’m not going to get into names, and this is even going back a couple of months ago, that I have called a few people to talk to people.”

Did he talk to people about Rick Tocchet and Sergei Gonchar? Because those are two names that Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman has connected to the Canucks in recent days, with Tocchet being Boudreau’s replacement as head coach and Gonchar a candidate in an assistant or advisor role.

“They’ve basically made a hire,” Friedman said of the Canucks and Tocchet, on the 32 Thoughts podcast.

Gonchar is “on the radar” for the Canucks, Friedman wrote in today’s 32 Thoughts column on He wasn’t sure if it would be for a “full-time assistant position” or a “hybrid/consulting role” though.

Another name Friedman mentioned was Richard Matvichuk.

Tocchet and Gonchar both have ties to Rutherford and Canucks GM Patrik Allvin from their Pittsburgh days.

Tocchet was an assistant coach with the Penguins for three seasons, winning Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017 before being hired as head coach of the Arizona Coyotes in 2017. He compiled a 125-131-34 record in four seasons as the Coyotes’ bench boss.

Arizona made the playoffs once under Tocchet, by way of the pandemic play-in as the 11th seed in the Western Conference.

The 58-year-old also coached the Tampa Bay Lightning for 66 games in 2008-09 and a full 82-game season in 2009-10, compiling a 53-69-26 record.

Tocchet got into coaching in 2002 with the Colorado Avalanche, following a stellar 1,144-game playing career as a power forward, where he scored 952 points with Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington, and Phoenix.

Gonchar, 48, was a four-time All-Star defenceman during his playing career, which saw him win a Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2009. He was a development coach with the Pens for their Cup wins in 2016 and 2017, before becoming a full-time assistant coach for three seasons.

Gonchar became known as the “defenceman whisperer,” given the unheralded group of blueliners that Pittsburgh won Cups with.

The Canucks’ defence needs more than whispering, however.

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