By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh
Happy 56th Birthday To Former Boston Bruins Forward Rick Tocchet!
Rick Tocchet was born on April 9th, 1964, in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada. He began playing juniors as a 16-year-old forward for the St. Michael’s Midget Buzzers (MTHL), playing 41 games with 28-46-74 numbers. The next season, he joined the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and suited up for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for the next three seasons. Tocchet entered the 1983 NHL Entry Draft and was selected by the Philadelphia Flyers in the sixth round. After being drafted, the 6’0 210-pound power-forward entered his final year in juniors with the Greyhounds and contributed 44-64-108 numbers in 64 games.
After his phenomenal 108-point campaign, the following season, he was directly promoted to the Flyers, producing 14 goals and 39 points and helped lead the team to a Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 1985. Tocchet was more known for his fighting-ability early on in his career but quickly developed his skating and offensive skills with the Flyers to become the respected power-forward in the league that the team had been looking for. The right-winger suited up for the Flyers from 1984-1992, playing in 531 games with 215-249-464 numbers and a whopping 1,681 PIM before being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992 with Kjell Samuelsson, Ken Wregget and a third-round pick in exchange for Mark Recchi, Brian Benning and a first-round pick (previously acquired from the Los Angeles Kings). Tocchet would go on to lead the Penguins to win the Stanley Cup that season, suiting up 14 postseason games and producing six goals and 19 points.
The Penguins saw value in the gritty power-forward and signed him to a two-year deal during the 1992 off-season. Tocchet ended up having his most productive season in the NHL in 1992-1993, collecting 48 goals and 109 points with 252 PIM for the Penguins. In 1994, he had amassed 76-103-179 numbers over his 130 game-tenure with Pittsburgh before being traded to the LA Kings with a second-round pick in exchange for Luc Robitaille. The versatile forward played just 80 games in a King’s uniform from 1994-1996 until he was traded to the Boston Bruins in 1996 in exchange for Kevin Stevens.
Tocchet went on to wear the Spoked-B with pride from 1996-1997, suiting up for 67 games and posting 32-22-54 numbers with 131 PIM before being traded to the Washington Capitals in 1997. He was involved in a blockbuster trade with Bill Ranford and Adam Oates to Washington in exchange for Jim Carey, Anson Carter, Jason Allison, and a third-round pick in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. Washington received Tocchet as a rental piece for the remainder of the season, where he played just 13 games before becoming a free agent in the off-season.
In 1997, shortly after the free agency market opened, Tocchet was signed by the Phoenix Coyotes on a three-year deal. He played for the Coyotes from 1997-2000, suiting up for 213 games and posting 64-66-130 numbers with 371 PIM before being traded back to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2000 in exchange for Mikael Renberg. He went on to play for the Flyers for the remainder of his career until suffering a knee injury during training camp in 2001, forcing the forward to appear in only 14 more games that season before announcing his retirement in 2002.
After retiring, Tocchet was named an assistant coach for the Colorado Avalanche and was with the organization from 2002-2004. He then became an assistant coach for the Coyotes for the 2005-2006 season. After concluding the 2005-2006 season, Tocchet found himself in hot water with the justice system after receiving criminal charges in 2006 and was found guilty in 2007 of conspiracy and promoting gambling. Instead of receiving a five-year prison sentence, he was given two years of probation in exchange for his plea. After dealing with the justice system, he re-joined the hockey world mid-season in 2008 after being named head coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tocchet went on to coach the Lightning for two seasons, finishing with a combined record of 53-69-26.
After failing to make the playoffs for the second season in a row, Tocchet was relieved of his coaching duties and didn’t return to the NHL until 2014 when he was named an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He had an immaculate run with the Penguins over the next few years and had his name engraved in the Stanley Cup two more times after winning the championship in 2016 and 2017. After his successful journey with Pittsburgh, Tocchet then moved on to being named head coach for the Arizona Coyotes in 2017 and is currently serving as the head coach for the team. Before the 2019-2020 season was put on pause due to the pandemic crisis, Arizona was just four-points away in the standings from a wild-card spot with a record of 33-29-8 (so far).
Tocchet ended his memorable 18-year journey in the NHL with 1,144 games played and produced 440-512-952 numbers with a whopping 2,970 PIM. Throughout his playing career, he was selected to four NHL All-Star games (1989, 1990, 1991 and 1993), and holds the NHL record for Gordie Howe Hat-Tricks (18). Happy birthday, Rick Tocchet!