Bruce Boudreau has been fired as coach of the Vancouver Canucks, who are poised to miss the playoffs again with another underwhelming season.
The team announced the change Sunday, less than a week after president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford said “major surgery” was needed to fix the Canucks, who have made the playoffs just once in the last eight years. Rick Tocchet was hired as Boudreau’s replacement for a Vancouver team that had lost 28 of 46 games this season.
Assistant coach Trent Cull was also relieved of his duties on Sunday. Adam Foote has been named an assistant and Sergey Gonchar a defensive development coach on Tochet’s staff.
“We want to express our sincere thanks to Bruce and Trent for their contributions to this organization,” CEO Patrick Alvin said in a statement Sunday. “We appreciate their commitment and wish them nothing but the best moving forward. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but one we felt was necessary for this franchise.”
Boudreau waved to the crowd after the Canucks’ latest loss, their third in four games, on Saturday night. “Bruce, here!” they chant. Tag Team’s “Whoomp! (There It Is)” echoed through the arena as a tribute to the revered 68-year-old hockey lifer, who ranks among the greatest regular-season coaches in NHL history.
He acknowledged speculation about his future Friday before the showdowns against Colorado and Edmonton, both losses for Vancouver.
“I’d be a fool to say I didn’t know what was going on,” Boudreau said. “But like I’ve said before, you come to work and you realize how great the game is.”
He was also emotional after the loss to the Oilers and the subsequent booing by the fans.
“You never know if it’s the end,” Boudreau told reporters after the game with tears in his eyes. “So when you’ve been in it for almost 50 years, you know, most of your life, and now if it’s the end, I had to stand there and look at the crowd and just try to say, Okay, try to remember these types of things in the moment.”
Boudreau is the second coach fired by Vancouver in 14 months. Boudreau took over in December 2021 after previous coach Travis Greene and general manager Jim Benning missed 25 games in the 2021-22 season.
The Canucks have missed the playoffs in the last two seasons since the 2020 second-round bubble.
Boudreau was on his fourth NHL team after stints with Washington, Anaheim and Minnesota. He won the Jack Adams Coach of the Year Award in 2007-08 when he was promoted from the minors to lead the Capitals on Thanksgiving Day and lead them to the playoffs.
The teams Boudreau has coached for a full season have made the playoffs nine of 10 times. His .626 slugging percentage ranks fourth among managers with at least 500 games behind the bench, and his 617 wins are tied for 20th in league history with Hall of Famer Jacques Lemaire.
But a Canucks team in disarray didn’t give him much of a chance to sustain that success. Rutherford said during Monday’s news conference that there will be big changes in the offseason, noting that the team needs to get younger.
They could happen before then, especially with captain Bo Horvath signing after this season and gaining attention before the March 3 trade deadline.
Tocchet is 178-200-60 as a head coach, leading the Tampa Bay Lightning for two seasons from 2008 to 2010 and the Arizona Coyotes for four years from 2017 to 2021. He won a Stanley Cup as a player for the Pittsburgh Penguins. and then twice as a helper for them.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.