One of the National Hockey League's most well-respected head coaches has just suffered a terrible family tragedy.
On Thursday Arizona Coyotes insider Craig Morgan of AZ Sports broke the news that Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet has suffered a terrible loss, losing his mother to a prolonged battle with brain cancer. Far too often I find myself reporting on lives taken by this terrible disease and unfortunately for Tocchet this time it has touched his family.
Needless to say losing a parent is a terrible tragedy even under the best of circumstances, but to see his mother Norma die to such an awful disease has to have been particularly difficult on the legendary former NHL forward.
The Arizona Coyotes have released the following official statement:
Our sincere condolences go out to #Coyotes Head Coach Rick Tocchet today as he and his family mourn the loss of his mother Norma who passed away last night. Our entire Pack will be thinking about Toc tonight as he returns behind the bench.
It's a testament to Tocchet's fortitude that he will immediately be returning to his coaching duties despite the tragedy, especially when you consider just how much his mother meant to him. The most heartbreaking part of this story for me was how Tocchet himself described his mother to Craig Morgan. Here's how Tocchet described how his mother described his career as a professional hockey player.
"I never deserved a penalty. I never had a bad game. It was always the coach's fault. I could do no wrong. In her eyes, I was like Gretzky and Lemieux put together."
Just yesterday cancer took another life in the hockey world after former NHL defenseman Ken Houston lost his own battle with cancer. Here was our report on that story:
According to an official report from the Los Angeles Kings' organization, former NHL defenseman Ken Houston has lost his battle with cancer. While there has been no announcement from the National Hockey League and this announcement did come the public relations arm of the King's organization, we have no doubt that their report on this matter is accurate.
While Houston only played 33 games as a member of the Los Angeles Kings, he did end his career there and presumably that is why they have been tasked with making this rather unfortunate announcement.
Houston was originally drafted by a team that no longer exists, the Atlanta Flames, when he was selected in the 6th round of the 1973 National Hockey League Entry Draft where he was selected 85th overall.
Over the course of his 570 game NHL career the former defenseman played for the aforementioned Atlanta Flames, the Calgary Flames when the Atlanta team was moved to Calgary, the Washington Capitals and the aforementioned Los Angeles Kings. Over the course of those games he recorded 161 goals and 167 assists for a total of 328 career points.
Cancer is a disease that has taken so much from so many families around the world, and unfortunately Houston is just one more life that has been claimed by this terrible illness. Unfortunately for the Houston family Ken was taken from them far too young, he was just 64 years old.
Photo Credit: Bob Fina-SCG