After weeks of speculation, the struggling Vancouver Canucks fired head coach Bruce Boudreau.
The Canucks announced the move Sunday, saying in a statement that the 68-year-old veteran NHL coach has been replaced by Rick Tuchet, former coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Arizona Coyotes.
“Rick Tucci brings a wealth of knowledge to this team, both from a coaching and player perspective,” General Manager Partick Alvin said in a statement. “He has more than two decades of coaching experience, leading teams of different styles. As a player, he has shown a high level of personality, courage and strength, while showing impressive offensive numbers.”
Assistant coach Trent Cole was also fired.
The team added Adam Foote as an assistant coach and Sergei Gonchar as a defensive development coach.
“Both individuals have had long and successful careers as NHL linebackers, and together they bring a wealth of experience on both sides of the puck,” Alvin said.
“Tocchet, Foote and Gonchar all add championship pedigree to the organization and we look forward to welcoming them to Vancouver.”
The changes come after the Edmonton Oilers lost Vancouver 4-2 on Saturday, marking the Canucks’ third straight loss and ninth in their last 10 games.
Vancouver (18-25-3) has given up a multi-goal lead in eight losses this season and is sixth in the Pacific Division, 14 points short of a playoff berth.
Boudreau was appointed on December 6, 2021, to replace former head coach Travis Green. Under Boudreau, Vancouver compiled a 32-15-10 record to finish the season and missed the season by five points.
Boudreau, 68, holds a career coaching record of 617-342-128 in 15 seasons.
The Canucks were long rumored to be planning a coaching change, and the coach took some time after Saturday’s loss to get on the bench and cheer the crowd on, chanting “Bruce, he’s here!” To the tune of “Whoomp!” (Here it is)” by Tag Team.
“I just wanted a taste of watching the stands because who knows if I’ll ever get that chance again,” he said. “Just keep this in my mind and memory, let it burn there forever.”
hour | Boudreau greets the Vancouver fans during the last game against the Canucks:
Canucks quarterback Luke Chien said the players continued to compete with Boudreau despite the outside noise and disappointing string of results.
“Obviously we feel like we’re getting him in the room,” he said. He deserves better. I think it depends on us as players. “Obviously I’ve played a long time and gone through, I don’t know, a lot of changes in training. Most of the time you need a drastic change and sometimes coaches lose their place and I don’t. I don’t think that’s the case here.
“Guys love playing with Bruce and in this piece, it feels like we let him down. We wanted to try and do the best we could for him and unfortunately, too many losses pile up.”
After the success of last season, expectations for the Canucks are high heading into the 2022-23 season.
“Not qualifying would be a disaster for us,” Boudreau said before training camp.
“But to make the playoffs we have to do better and be more consistent over 82 games, not just 56 games or whatever the number is. I would say it’s a failure if we don’t achieve our goals this year.”
The Canucks lost their first seven games of the season and made history by becoming the first NHL team to lose their first four games while giving up a multi-point lead in each one.
While Vancouver was constantly looking for ways to score, the team also allowed an average of 3.96 goals per game. The Canucks’ penalty kill was a burden, with a league-worst 65.9 percent.
Boudreau said the group is constantly working on defense in training.
“It’s really all we do,” he said after losing 5-4 to Vegas in November. “We don’t work so much on offense because we score enough goals, but we work on defense. Obviously, this still requires a lot of work.”
In late October, Alvin told reporters that Boudreau still had his support, but a few weeks later, Jim Rutherford, the team’s president of hockey operations, publicly criticized the team’s performance.
He told a Vancouver radio station on November 7: “If we played in a real solid structure, it would be easier for our defense to play. And it didn’t matter who was in our defense.”
Vancouver hired Boudreau before Rutherford O. Alvin took over in Vancouver.
The coach said on Saturday he believed his tenure was over after “a few things were said” in November.
“It wasn’t like that. We carried on. This last stretch was very difficult. The guys gave everything they had. I’m very proud of them,” Boudreau said.
A former center for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks, Boudreau has previously coached the Washington Capitals, Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild. He was awarded the Jack Adams Trophy as the league’s best coach in 2008.
When asked after the Canucks’ first game of the season how the long slide affected him mentally, Boudreau said the loss was nothing new.
He said, “I’ve been through all this before. You’re trying to stay the course.” I try not to read anything [the media] He writes, Try not to watch too much TV, other than the game itself, just stay in my little corner and do what we do to get ready for the games.
“I’ve been through this so many times that I know if we keep doing the right things and stay optimistic about it, good things will always happen.”