Bruce Boudreau has been fired as coach of the Vancouver Canucks, who are again on track to miss the playoffs with another underachieving 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 only once in the past eight years. Rick Tocchet was hired as Boudreau’s replacement for a Vancouver team that has lost 28 of 46 games this season.
Assistant coach Trent Cull was also relieved of his duties Sunday. Adam Foote was named as an assistant and Sergei Gonchar a defensive development coach on Tocchet’s staff.
“We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Bruce and Trent for their contributions to this organization,” general manager Patrik Allvin said in a statement Sunday. “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.”
Boudreau had waved to the crowd after the Canucks’ latest defeat Saturday night, their third in the past four games. Chants of “Bruce, there it is!” to the tune of Tag Team’s “Whoomp! (There It Is)” echoed around the arena as a tribute to the well-respected 68-year-old hockey lifer who ranks among the top regular-season coaches in NHL history.
“I’d be a fool to say I don’t know what’s 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 following the loss to the Oilers and subsequent send-off from fans.
“You never know if it’s the end,” Boudreau told reporters after the game, tears welling in his eyes. “So when you’ve been in it for almost 50 years — you know, the majority of your life — and now if it’s the end, I had to stay out there and look at the crowd and just try to say, ‘OK, try to remember this moment type of thing.'”
Boudreau is the second coach Vancouver has fired in under 14 months. Boudreau took over in December 2021 when previous coach Travis Green and general manager Jim Benning were let go 25 games into the 2021-22 season.
The Canucks have missed the playoffs the past two seasons since reaching the second round in the bubble in 2020.
Boudreau was with his fourth NHL team after stints with Washington, Anaheim and Minnesota. He won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year in 2007-08 when he was elevated from the minors to coach the Capitals on Thanksgiving and got them to the playoffs.
Teams coached by Boudreau for a full season have made the playoffs nine out of 10 times. His .626 points percentage ranks fourth among coaches 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 did not give him much of a chance to keep that success going. Rutherford in a news conference Monday said big changes would be coming in the offseason, citing the need for the team to get younger.
They could happen before that, especially with captain Bo Horvat unsigned beyond this season and attracting attention ahead of the March 3 trade deadline.
Tocchet is 178-200-60 as a head coach after leading the Tampa Bay Lightning for parts of two seasons from 2008 to 2010 and the Arizona Coyotes for four years from 2017 to 2021. He won the Stanley Cup as a player with the Pittsburgh Penguins and then twice as an assistant for them.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.