Tocchet recognizing honesty is best policy with Coyotes to instruction. The key to communication, Tocchet points out, is understanding a coach’s audience. For the Coyotes, veterans like Brad Richardson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Phil Kessel and Antti Raanta, Tocchet offers, require a different approach.
has also coached with the Colorado Avalanche, Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Coyotes. f you do not adjust, learn, grow and evolve as a coach, It was with the Penguins, where he spent four years there’s not much of a future to direct a team. as an assistant coach, that Tocchet grew and flourIn that regard, there is little difference if you’re ished. coaching at the NHL level or at Ice Den Scottsdale. “The time I spent in Pittsburgh was clearly benefiIn the end, honesty is the best policy – just ask cial,” he said. “That whole situation there was big Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet, who is for me. (Head coach) Mike Sullivan is a great the first to admit players are just as cerebral as friend and great coach, and I learned a great deal they are physical. from him and the organization. Everything there is “Players really help you become a good terrific, and I was able to hang around and coach coach, and they inspire you,” Tocchet said. high-level players. That helps you, too. Certainly, “We, as coaches, don’t know everything and if that helps to build confidence.” you think you know everything to a player, they Given the learning curve, Tocchet is the first see right through you. It’s OK to be wrong, and to admit that securing a previous head coaching you don’t always make the right move. I think the job, like he obtained in Tampa Bay, helped to perplayers appreciate that, honestly.” fect communication skills. There is no question a For Tocchet, the evolution was fairly dramatformer player brings a great deal of physical abilic. Known as a rough-around-the-edges player ity, but the successful ones, Tocchet points out, with the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penis the one who remains honest with players and guins, Los Angeles Kings, Boston Bruins, Washcultivates the ability to communicate with experiington Capitals and Coyotes, the native of Scarenced players in a quick and easy manner. borough, Ont., managed 440 goals and 2,972 Here, Tocchet’s definition of a successful penalty minutes in 1144 games. coach could be a blueprint for coaches at all Channeling that aggressive disposition, Toc- Now in his third season as head coach of the Arizona Coyotes, Rick Tocchet had levels. chet, now in his third season behind the Coyotes the team out to a strong 11-6-2 mark through mid-November. Photo/Norm Hall “It’s all about routine,” he said. “Do the same bench, brings a style of coaching that is as instructional “With a veteran player like Richardson, we can thing. Doesn’t matter how big the moment is, you have as well as physically demanding. At the same time, he speak for about 10 minutes and he gets it,” Tocchet to stay the same way. If you’re a guy who does the recognizes significant differences in players and, espe- said. “With younger players, you have to spend a little proper things, and because it’s a big moment, you don’t cially, a potential gulf between veterans and younger more time and they ask, ‘Why are we doing this?’ With change it. Sometimes, athletes get in trouble because players. a guy like Richardson, he knows we’re just going to do the bigger the moment, they start thinking, ‘I have to That’s the same approach that can benefit youth it. Since I’ve been here, Richardson had been the buy-in change something.’ No, don’t change. All the things coaches. Each team will have experienced players and, guy and a guy you don’t have to spend a great deal of you’ve worked on during the season, in the gym, nuespecially at the youth level, beginners or those starting time with.” trition and that stuff gets you prepared for these moout to play organized hockey should be more sensitive Following an 18-year NHL playing career, Tocchet ments.”
By Mark Brown
The November issue, featuring the Arizona Titans on the cover, has hit the streets!