The Vancouver Canucks finally, mercifully relieved head coach Bruce Boudreau of his coaching duties this past weekend.
It's been rumored for weeks now that Boudreau was on his way out of town, but that the Canucks were still finalizing details of a contract for new head coach Rick Tocchet. And then, before the ink was even dry on Tocchet's contract, he was unveiled to Vancouver media as the team's newest head coach and that he's bringing former NHL defenseman Adam Foote along with him as an assistant coach. Sergei Gonchar was also named to the team's coaching staff as a defensive specialist.
The Canucks' front office staff of Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin are hoping that a change of voice and a change of direction will help this seemingly directionless team. Tocchet has a reputation as a fiery coach, so it'll be interesting to see how the team reacts following a year under Boudreau.
As for the Canucks' off-ice plans, it appears that Rutherford and Allvin are going to take one last stab at retaining captain Bo Horvat and are hoping that Tocchet's hiring is enough to entice Horvat and his camp to stick things out in Vancouver.
From Canucks insider Rick Dhaliwal:
"It's a big week for Bo Horvat. I believe the Canucks are still looking for ways to keep Horvat, as tough as that may be. Maybe let him spend some time with Tocchet and see if that changes. They can't sign Horvat and Kuzmenko, only one of them. And right now no offer's been made to Kuzmenko. Can they send one final offer Horvat's way? The two sides did talk over the weekend. As of yesterday, not hearing a meeting is being set up. As of yesterday he (Horvat's agent) does not have permission to talk to teams (about a potential contract extension). I full believe the Canucks will NOT give them position."
"Boston, Detroit... keep an eye on Brandon Carlo. That's a guy I think if I were the Canucks and Boston were calling, that's a guy... that's who I would ask for, Brandon Carlo."
- Rick Dhaliwal
What's particularly interesting to me is that at a certain points last offseason it looked like the Canucks were either going to re-sign Horvat or JT Miller, but not both. Miller got his long-term deal, but now the conversation is Horvat or Andrei Kuzmenko? What changed?
The team already made their bed when they signed the Miller contract and Sportsnet's Jeff Marek reported earlier today that Tocchet's hiring had a lot to do with Miller. In Marek's own words Tocchet was brought in is to manage JT Miller going forward.
In any case, both Horvat and Kuzmenko have had outstanding seasons for the Canucks in a season where not many players have reached their potential. Keeping both guys around would likely benefit them in the long run, but the fact of the matter is that the Canucks already have too many big contracts on their roster and it has hampered their ability to make meaningful player personnel decision. I think, without stating the obvious too much, that one or both players will move on either this season or during the upcoming offseason. Stay tuned.