Canucks Fire Bruce Boudreau, Name Rick Tocchet as New HC amid 25-Loss Season

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 22, 2023

VANCOUVER, CANADA - DECEMBER 10: Head coach Bruce Boudreau of the Vancouver Canucks looks on from the bench during their NHL game against the Minnesota Wild at Rogers Arena December 10, 2022 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

The Vancouver Canucks announced Sunday they fired head coach Bruce Boudreau and assistant coach Trent Cull.

"We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Bruce and Trent for their contributions to this organization," general manager Patrik Allvin said. "We appreciate their dedication and wish them nothing but the best moving forward. This was not an easy decision to make, but one that we felt was necessary for this franchise."

Rick Tocchet will replace Boudreau as head coach, with Adam Foote moving into the assistant role.

The moves come amid an 18-25-3 start that has the Canucks sitting sixth in the Pacific division.

Despite the losses piling up, Boudreau didn't lose the support of the fanbase. They chanted "Bruce, there it is!" at the end of Saturday's 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

Sportsnet @Sportsnet

Bruce Boudreau leaves the ice to a "Bruce there it is!" chant. πŸ’™ <a href="https://t.co/RF8OjR2Ngd">pic.twitter.com/RF8OjR2Ngd</a>

His firing comes a little over a year after the Canucks hired him. He succeeded Travis Green in December 2021 and guided the team to a 32-15-10 finish. The team wound up just five points behind the Nashville Predators for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

For many, Boudreau's departure reflects wider issues within the organization that extend beyond his coaching.

This past Monday, president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford lamented how he thought "major surgery" was required to get the roster to a playoff level but still isn't committed to executing a rebuild.

"My preference is when we make deals, it's not necessarily for draft picks who may come in and help the team four years or five years from now," he told reporters. "I would prefer to get younger NHL players that may not have worked out well on the entry-level contracts and bring them in to get a second chance."

B/R Open Ice @BR_OpenIce

Canucks president Jim Rutherford addressed the media today and it was a doozy πŸŽ€πŸ˜΅β€πŸ’« <a href="https://t.co/8ywGVNORb7">pic.twitter.com/8ywGVNORb7</a>

That's a seemingly impossible needle to thread, and the front office might have little choice but to start all over again in the offseason considering Bo Horvat is due to be a free agent.

The Canucks' treatment of Boudreau drew criticism as well because they left him to twist in the wind with the expectation that he'd eventually get fired. On Jan. 14, CHEK's Rick Dhaliwal reported negotiations were already underway with Tocchet but that a final decision might not come for weeks.

Eric Engels @EricEngels

I can honestly say that, in my 15 yrs covering the NHL, I have never seen anything like this Bruce Boudreau fiasco. I have no clue how any organizationβ€”even one as apparently as dysfunctional as the Canucksβ€”could operate this way. The cruelty of it aside, it's just so ridiculous.

Tocchet brings plenty of experience to Vancouver. He coached the Tampa Bay Lightning for two years before spending four seasons with the Arizona Coyotes. The 58-year-old has a 125-131-34 record as an NHL head coach with one playoff trip under his belt.

Given the dysfunctional state of the Canucks right now and the general goodwill toward Boudreau, Tocchet is inheriting a difficult situation.