The Coyotes are back for the 2017-18 season and featuring a roster and coaching staff completely renovated from the dark days of rebuilding.
This is the HYPE TRAIN, a 7-day series focused on giving you 7 reasons to get F*****G JACKED for this season’s road hopefully leading back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It’s been an interesting week, huh? The Coyotes made their final roster cuts and opted to have three alternate captains instead of replacing Shane Doan’s former role immediately. Across the league, teams were busy releasing their PTOs and sending top prospects back to juniors.
But back in Arizona, things are not as they have been for the memorable past. Dave Tippett has been absent, but that’s indeed no accident. John Chayka opted to make a move and find a guy that better fit his groove. So he decided to hire a guy with a little fire.
The Rocket, Rick Tocchet.
Now, before I dig into why we should be HYPED UP for the new bench boss, I gotta address this edition’s hype song. I could have gone with the faux pas choice in the Def Leppard’s Rocket or, if I hadn’t used it f*****g yesterday, Turbulence from Steve Aoki, Laidback Luke and Lil’ John.
I struggled to find the appropriate song, until I came back to my roots. It isn’t necessarily a song to dance to unless you’re my dad, but it fits the man and you can bob your head to the guitar easily. There is no better description of Rick Tocchet than a Working Man.
Hit it Geddy...
Rick Tocchet played a grand total of 1,144 games in the NHL with 6 different organizations, including the Coyotes back in the days of obscured views and Werewolves of London.
Tocch pieced together 952 points during his time in the league, and won himself a Cup with Pittsburgh in 1992. During his Phoenix time, on the backend of his playing career, he helped bring the Playoffs to the desert twice.
He’s back now to bring that magic back. Since his departure from the organization via trade, the Coyotes have only made the playoffs five times in the 18 years since. The most recent, as we all know, was the 2012 Western Conference Finals run.
Since that franchise high, everything has tumbled out of control. It would take working men to get this franchise back on track. Not a man, but men. Some people had to go and that came in the ownership, the front office and the bench.
Rick Tocchet re-enters this organization with a new, sole majority owner behind him and a crafty young GM who has assembled more talent in a bewildered franchise in less time than any other GM in modern hockey. He has been given the tools from the organization to put this team on track.
And he’s gonna do it.
Rich Tocchet has been described as a “player’s coach,” the “Phil Kessel Whisperer,” and the “powerplay mastermind” of the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
Speaking of American heroes, were you aware that Phil Kessel is indeed a Stanley Cup Champion?
I still blame Toronto’s media for running him out of town... idiots.
Back to Tocch, he brings a breadth of talent to this organization. He masterminded a top-3 powerplay in the league last season, and crafted a forward core for Pittsburgh that had high-level striking potential for every shift. Moreover, he’s handled stars in both assistant and head coaching positions (I don’t need to name Penguins, but he got in on the beginning of Steven Stamkos’ career in Tampa).
Coyotes fans should be hyped up for Rick Tocchet because of that experience, and because he’s been removed from the drama of organizational strife and spared the embarrassment of Gretzky’s impact on the team. He brings experience with the market, but the fresh eyes and experienced hand to turn it all around.
Rick Tocchet will mold the way this team looks to the fan, but also the players. And if he does it right, those two transformations will change the hierarchy of power in the Western Conference.
Tocch will cultivate Clayton Keller into the star the Coyotes need him to be. He will take the leadership and experiences brought in by Derek Stepan and Nik Hjalmarsson and impart it on younger talent pieces like Max Domi and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Those five, under Tocchet, will no doubt be inseperable.
The Rocket will find out what caught up Anthony Duclair last season. He is the whisperer of premier NHL snipers, and Tocch will find a way to make the Duke a King.
Better yet, a King of the Kings.
There has been a void in Arizona for years now. We’ve had the coaching, but not the stars. We’ve have some pieces, but lacked a coaching strategy to match. And at many points, we had neither. We
are were a desperate club. We are were a desperate group of fans. We have the pieces to cheer for now, and the right coach to make it click.
In sports, the phase “trust the process” is often given to rebuilding teams. But at the end of every process comes fruition. Coyotes fans, enjoy the process. Because we are all witnessing the rebirth of this franchise into a quality, competitive organization.
Two years ago, the Coyotes released a commercial just before Opening Night. It was the most moving commercial I had ever seen.
To me, it depicted my identity as a Coyotes fan. It changed how I saw the team. Ignore the players in it, because most have moved on but take from it the message, the images and excitement.
It is a manifesto of what hockey is in Arizona, and what kind of team and fans we are and can be.
We have what that commercial promised.
We are now a pack apart. We are now a new breed of Arizona hockey.
And this team will bring back White Outs to the Valley of the Sun.