Canucks fans boo Rick Tocchet, toss jersey on ice in his debut

Tocchet was a good sport about his reception after the game, praising the Vancouver fan base for its passion.

Canucks fans were less than enthused when they welcomed new head coach Rick Tocchet to his first game at Rogers Centre on Tuesday. (Getty Images)

It's been an ugly few weeks for the Vancouver Canucks, and fans are not letting the team off the hook just yet, even as it ushers in a new era.

Following a front office soap opera that culminated in the overdue firing of head coach Bruce Boudreau, the Canucks took on the Chicago Blackhawks with new bench boss Rick Tocchet at the helm at Rogers Arena on Tuesday. His tenure got off on the right foot — on the scoreboard, at least — as Vancouver defeated the tanking Blackhawks 5-2.

Canucks fans welcomed Tocchet to his new home with boos, perhaps directed more towards the front office and their mismanagement of the coaching situation than the 58-year-old's arrival.

The sour reaction did not end there, though, with a fan throwing a jersey onto the ice only three minutes into the game and with the score still tied at 0-0.

Tocchet was a good sport about the boos after the game, taking a page out of Waylon Smithers's book.

"I think they know my middle name is Lou," Tocchet said.

Tocchet was announced as the 21st head coach in franchise history on Sunday when the team parted ways with Boudreau, who had filled in behind the bench in December 2021 after taking over for Travis Green.

Through 47 games, Boudreau and the Canucks limped to a 19-25-3 record, and are sitting in sixth place in the Pacific Division, 14 points out of a wild card spot.

Tocchet last coached in the NHL with the Arizona Coyotes between 2017 and 2021, going 125-131-34 and making the Stanley Cup playoffs only once. He also spent two years coaching the Tampa Bay Lightning between 2008 and 2010, and spent time as an assistant coach with the Colorado Avalanche and Pittsburgh Penguins, where he won back-to-back championships in 2016 and '17.

As a player, the Scarborough, ON., native appeared in 1,144 career NHL games spanning 18 seasons, scoring 440 goals, registering 952 points and accumulating 2,970 penalty minutes. The four-time All-Star won the Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 1992.

Prior to accepting the Canucks job, Tocchet was working as an analyst with the NHL on TNT.

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