NHL Ready For Firing Season
Now that the final week of the regular season is here in the National Hockey League, teams have already started making decisions at the head coach position.
A pair of coaches have already lost their jobs for next season, and that list is expected to grow throughout the month of May.
The biggest firing has taken place in Columbus as John Tortorella has been informed that he will not return to the team. Tortorella has been with the Blue Jackets for the past six seasons, but he was not under contract moving forward.
Columbus was expected to be a playoff contender this season, but the team finished in the last place in the Central Division. A brutal final month of the year likely sealed the fate of Tortorella and the team is looking to go in a different direction.
The Blue Jackets reached the playoffs four different times in the six-year career of Tortorella but only advanced out of the first round one time. Columbus finished with an overall record of 227-166-54 under the longtime head coach, but more was expected from Tortorella after he found success at his first three stops.
There has been plenty of speculation about Tortorella’s future in Columbus, and fans showed their support for him during the season finale on Sunday. A number of players also spoke about their head coach both prior to and after the game on Sunday.
The former head coach of the New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Vancouver Canucks will likely be a top candidate for other potential openings around the league.
Tocchet Out of Arizona
One potential destination for Tortorella could be with the Arizona Coyotes, as that franchise has also made the decision to move on from their current head coach. Rick Tocchet is out after the Coyotes missed the 2021 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, but they were one of the best stories in hockey this season.
General manager Bill Armstrong has decided to move in a different direction with the franchise, and this is a team that could attract a strong candidate. Arizona made the playoffs during the pandemic season and was on the doorstep in 2021 in the loaded West Division.
Tocchet has spent the last four seasons with the Coyotes and guided them to the only playoff appearance in the last eight seasons. Arizona actually eliminated the Nashville Predators in the first round a season ago before losing in five games to the Colorado Avalanche.
The Coyotes looked to be in a great position to make the playoffs again this season, but a rough stretch likely sealed the fate of Tocchet and kept Arizona out of the postseason. Arizona managed to win just three games in the last 15 attempts and finished just three points out of the final playoff spot in the West.
This is just the second head coaching job for Tocchet after spending two years with the Lightning. He was also on the coaching staff in Pittsburgh when the Penguins won a pair of Stanley Cup titles.
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