You’ve heard the news.
Jeff Blashill will not be behind the Detroit Red Wings’ bench next season, and now the search for Hockeytown’s next head coach has begun. General manager Steve Yzerman has the ultimate say in who will fill that vacancy, but he did say this during his season ending media availability.
“I’m just going to put a long list of names together from the people that I talk to, from articles that are written with names that come up that…any of you know that I’m not familiar with or that I hadn’t thought of…write [them] all down, do my own background work on them all, and then put together a shorter list.”
Yzerman asked, so we’re here to deliver. Our panel of writers are here to make their pitch for the Red Wings’ next head coach in hopes that you, and maybe even Yzerman, will agree.
Tony Wolak: Rick Tocchet
I know a lot of hockey fans don’t like the idea of recycling head coach candidates, but hear me out. When he was in Arizona, Rick Tocchet was tasked with leading a less-than-talented team and was able to implement a somewhat successful, hard-working system. I think it’s fair to say that if Tocchet had a more talented squad, he’d still be the Coyotes’ coach.
Instead, Tocchet is a free agent, currently serving as an analyst for TNT. He’d be an excellent choice to be Detroit’s next coach. He has already worked with two rebuilding teams (pre-Steve Yzerman Tampa Bay Lightning and the Coyotes) and can command the room given his personality and accomplished NHL career. Plus, he knows Yzerman from his playing days, so there’s some familiarity there.
In addition, Tocchet has three Stanley Cup rings to his name – one as a player and two as an assistant coach (all with the PIttsburgh Penguins). It’s also worth noting that the Penguins had an outstanding power play under his tutelage. Sure, they had great players, but it was his strategy that they were executing.
Finally, my recommendation would be to bring in a talent developer as the defensive assistant coach, perhaps an associate head coach who would complement Tocchet’s style well.