The Arizona Coyotes and coach Rick Tocchet have mutually agreed to part ways after four seasons.
The announcement Sunday comes a day after the Coyotes missed the playoffs for the seventh time in eight seasons.
“After meeting with Rick, we have agreed that a coaching change is in the best interest of the club,” general manager Bill Armstrong said in a statement. “This was a very difficult decision, but we believe that it is time for a new direction and new leadership. Rick is a very good coach and an incredible person, and we sincerely appreciate all his hard work and dedication to the Coyotes the past four years.”
The Coyotes reached the post-season last year when the format was rejiggered owing to the coronavirus pandemic and beat Nashville in four games before losing to Colorado in five.
Arizona was in playoff position heading into the final month of the 2020-21 season, holding the fourth spot in the West Division before losing 12 of 15 games to get eliminated. The Coyotes closed a 24-26-6 season with a pair of wins over San Jose to finish three points behind St. Louis for the West’s final playoff spot.
The 57-year-old Tocchet was hired in 2017 to guide a middling team that hadn’t been to the playoffs since the 2012 Western Conference final. Arizona was hit hard by injuries during Tocchet’s tenure, particularly by the loss of goalies Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta, and repeatedly came up just short of the playoffs.
The Coyotes made playoff pushes in Tocchet’s first two seasons and got into the post-season last year when the NHL expanded the field in the pandemic “bubble” environment.
Tocchet, who played 18 NHL seasons and previously coached at Tampa Bay, went 125-131-34 at Arizona.