Many assumed Pittsburgh assistant coach Rick Tocchet was a candidate for the Sabres’ vacant head coaching gig, given his ties to new Buffalo GM Jason Botterill.
Turns out that’s not the case.
Per TSN, the Sabres didn’t reach out to Tocchet for the bench boss job. It was widely assumed Botterill was waiting for Pittsburgh’s playoff run to finish to speak with him.
The two are, as mentioned above, quite familiar with each other. Botterill spent 10 years in the Penguins’ front office prior to moving to Buffalo, and Tocchet has spent the last three years behind the team’s bench.
The 53-year-old is held in pretty high regard. He’s got a wealth of experience from his playing days — over 1,100 NHL contests — and has managed to survive two different coaching changes in Pittsburgh. Tocchet came in under Dan Bylsma, was retained to work on Mike Johnston’s staff, then retained again when Johnston was replaced by current head coach Mike Sullivan.
Today’s news certainly makes it sound like Nashville assistant Phil Housley — a former Sabre — would be the leading candidate for the job.