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NHL: Arizona Coyotes hire former Pittsburgh Penguins assistant Rick Tocchet as coach

By The Sports Xchange
One month after helping to guide the Pittsburgh Penguins to their fifth Stanley Cup championship as an assistant coach, Rick Tocchet is leaving to pursue a new challenge as the next head coach of the Arizona Coyotes. Photo courtesy of NHL/Twitter
One month after helping to guide the Pittsburgh Penguins to their fifth Stanley Cup championship as an assistant coach, Rick Tocchet is leaving to pursue a new challenge as the next head coach of the Arizona Coyotes. Photo courtesy of NHL/Twitter

One month after helping to guide the Pittsburgh Penguins to their fifth Stanley Cup championship as an assistant coach, Rick Tocchet is leaving to pursue a new challenge as the next head coach of the Arizona Coyotes.

Tocchet, 53, was hired as the 18th bench boss in Coyotes' franchise history Tuesday after three seasons as an assistant in Pittsburgh. The team signed him to a multi-year contract, but did not release terms of the deal.

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"I'm extremely happy to be back with the Coyotes organization," said Tocchet, who served as a Coyotes assistant and interim coach for the team during the 2005-06 season.

Tocchet filled in for Wayne Gretzky as the Coyotes' coach when Gretzky took an indefinite leave in 2005 to be with his ailing mother.

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He joined the Tampa Bay Lightning as an assistant in 2008 and became the team's interim coach on Nov. 14 of that year before being named Tampa Bay's head coach after the 2008-09 season.

The Lightning went 53-69-26 in two seasons under Tocchet's guidance.

Tocchet was hired by the Penguins as an assistant on June 25, 2014. The Penguins bested the San Jose Sharks in the 2016 Cup Final before beating the Nashville Predators this season to claim back-to-back Cup titles.

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As a player, Tocchet was a three-time All-Star forward who played 18 seasons and was a member of the Penguins' Cup-winning squad in 1992.

"Rick is an excellent coach and a proven winner," Coyotes general manager John Chayka said. "While with the Penguins, he won a Stanley Cup as a player and two cups as a coach. He's experienced, knowledgeable and is a great leader and communicator. He's also a former Coyotes player and assistant coach and the perfect fit for us. We're thrilled to have him re-join our organization."

Tocchet spent three seasons as a player with the Coyotes, totaling 64 goals and 66 assists for 130 points in 213 games. The Scarborough, Ont. Native had 440 goals and 512 assists (952 points) in 1,144 NHL games.

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In 2006, Tocchet was accused of financing a nationwide sports gambling ring. One year later, Tocchet pleaded guilty to conspiracy and promoting gambling and was sentenced to two years probation.

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