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Pens make Johnston hiring official, name Rick Tocchet assistant

Jun 25, 2014, 1:42 PM EDT

Rick Tocchet Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins made the hiring of Mike Johnston as the new head coach official this afternoon and with it there are more changes behind the bench.

The Penguins have hired Rick Tocchet to assist Johnston behind the bench and Tony Granato and Todd Reirden have been let go. Those two assisted Dan Bylsma and now with Johnston in charge, he’s bringing in a new group of assistants with one more coach to be hired. Assistant coach Jacques Martin’s role with the team is yet to be determined and goaltending coach Mike Bales will return.

Tocchet was last seen behind the bench with the Tampa Bay Lightning as the team’s head coach from 2008-2010. Now he’ll make his return to action coaching Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang among others alongside Johnston.

“Rick is going to be a very valuable member of the staff here ,” Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said. “He was an outstanding NHL player, a guy who brought toughness and intensity every night along with a high level of skill. The fans in Pittsburgh know that first-hand. He also gained great experience as a coach with three different NHL organizations. We all know he’s got a lot to offer in his new role with the Penguins.”

Tocchet was also an assistant with the Lightning, Colorado Avalanche, and Phoenix Coyotes.

  1. jkulha86 - Jun 25, 2014 at 1:54 PM

    Rick Tocchet always looks like he is ready to hit someone. He should bring some much needed grit and tenacity to this team.

  2. lilgurgi - Jun 25, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    There goes my favorite post-game analyst for the Flyers (waiting for someone to blame Hextall for that).

    On a side note…were the Pens afraid of Berube and Laperriere threatening their coaches with mean looks so they were looking for toughness on the bench? Just kidding…really.

    • hockey412 - Jun 25, 2014 at 2:50 PM

      Berube, possibly. With Granato being gone, someone has to be available to stand on the boards should it come down to it again.

      Laperriere, I doubt it – it’s generally pretty tough to tell when he’s looking at you. When he’s looking straight at you his nose is pointing away. His whole face is an opitcal illusion.

      Disclaimer: I think this was funnier in my head.

      • girouxsalem89 - Jun 25, 2014 at 3:02 PM

        If it wasn’t for the disclaimer I would of down voted.

  3. sjsharks66 - Jun 25, 2014 at 2:14 PM

    Why would they let Tony go? That’s just silly…

  4. jaysfan64 - Jun 25, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    I’d gamble on Tocchet toughening these guys up considerably…

  5. phillyphanatic77 - Jun 25, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    Congrats to Rich Tocchet. I’ll miss him on the Flyers broadcasts but we all knew he’d get back into coaching sometime. As for the head coach… ehh, okay hire. Coaching the Pens will make his regular season record look good but it’s all about the playoffs. The Pens inability to nab one of the top coaches available is really surprising to me. They need a culture change and maybe Rutherford and Johnston can do that.

    • c9castine - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:17 PM

      haha listen to you…”ehh, okay hire”….

      you dont know a damn thing about this guy, or anything for that matter

      • phillyphanatic77 - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:37 PM

        Let me ask you this… was Johnston even in the Pens top-3 targets to take over Bylsma’s spot? I’m gonna say it’s no question that he wasn’t. The Pens struck out with their top choices. That alone makes it nothing more than a mediocre pickup. And what exactly do Pens fans know about the guy? The only thing anyone knows is that he’s had good success in juniors and he has questionable NHL experience. He admitted that and it’s a major reason why Tocchet was brought in. I’m sure Rutherford is hoping he’s found the next Patrick Roy but that’s a longshot; especially since this guy’s name didn’t even come up as a candidate until everyone else said no.

      • c9castine - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:48 PM

        1. nobody knows the true top targets. may or may not have been rutherford never thought he was available. he didnt go after babcock and others for the same reason. whats it matter? the only other guy they were going to hire wanted things that the team was not willing to give him, and so no contract was agreed upon. he went to the team that gave him the extra year and where he didnt have to take on rick tocchet. tocchet was hired weeks ago.

        2. why is his nhl experience questionable? it just is what it is, 8 years as an assistant. has willie desjardin ever been an NHL headcoach? how long did john stevens last before he got fired and has been an assistant? bring in rick tocchet because of his NHL experience – as a coach he has never been anything but an assistant either.

        3. you dont know what your talking about. your filling in all the blanks with assumptions. i didnt love the way the hiring process went, and i dont know everything about this guy. i heard his name once in my life before this week and that was watching the memorial cup tournament. since then i have heard him and tocchet both go into detail about the way the think about the game and the strategies they intend to use and i like all of it. im willing to give the guy a chance that for sure.

        there is as many guys with little NHL experience that have success as there are guys with tons of head coaching experience who fail big time. that should be obvious. Jon Cooper just started coaching USHL in 2008, a couple years in AHL and now he was a Jack Adams nominee. Mike Babcock was a long time junior coach before two years as an AHL coach got him the Anaheim job. and on and on. people get there start somewhere.

  6. bmscalise - Jun 25, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    Rick Tocchet: the only human being capable of endearing himself – simultaneously and eternally – to both the Pittsburgh and Philly fanbases.

    • jberd08 - Jun 25, 2014 at 3:36 PM

      And Mark Recchi imo

      • laxman1944 - Jun 25, 2014 at 4:01 PM


        Freaking Pitt….

        Well good luck Toch. in Pitt…….ugh I just threw up in my mouth

  7. flyerspsu - Jun 25, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    No tocchet, why? WHY?

    • c9castine - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:19 PM

      you do realize rick tocchet won a stanley cup here, something that people dont do in philly, and also…

      he lives here moron.

      didnt spend much time here playing but pittsburgh has become his second home and now, his workplace again.

  8. 19to77 - Jun 25, 2014 at 10:06 PM

    One day, I want to see a charity poker tournament or something with Tocchet and Jagr. Good way to top a non-profit organization’s budget off for the year. Hell, at the rate they throw money at card games you could probably revitalize the Greek economy.

  9. kastout11 - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:26 AM

    Tocchet is, far and away, my favorite player ever. I cannot in good conscious cheer for Pittsburgh, even if my father was a coach. Good luck to Tocchet, but I don’t know how much of an impact he can have on a team full of stars who know their stars. I still don’t think they are a postseason threat until they either trade Fleury or their goaltending coach (Why is he keeping his job?). Fleury has regressed every year since winning the cup. I would think you would either hold the player or the position coach accountable.

    • c9castine - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:21 PM

      ?? yeah trade mike bales.

      they let the goalie coach go after 2013 and fleury had his best season yet. had a great playoff too obviously the team didnt equal his performance in front of him. he had back to back shutouts in the 2nd round before the team started jobbing itself.

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