Canucks fire Boudreau, hire Tocchet as replacement

Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
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The team announced the change less than a week since president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford said “major surgery” was needed to fix the Canucks, who have only made the playoffs once in the past eight years. Rick Tocchet was hired as Bruce Boudreau’s replacement for a Vancouver team that has lost 28 of 46 games this season.

“This was not an easy decision to make but one that we felt was necessary for this franchise,” general manager Patrik Allvin said in a statement thanking Boudreau for his contributions.

Boudreau waved to the crowd after the Canucks’ latest defeat, 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.

He’s 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 last season.

Assistant Trent Cull was also relieved of his duties, the team said. Adam Foote was named as an assistant and Sergei Gonchar a defensive development coach on Tocchet’s staff.

Tocchet previously coached the Tampa Bay Lightning for parts of two seasons from 2008-10 and the Arizona Coyotes for four years from 2017-21. He won the Stanley Cup as a player with the Pittsburgh Penguins and then twice as an assistant for them.

“Rick Tocchet brings a wealth of knowledge to this team from both a coach and player perspective,” Allvin said. “He has had more than two decades of coaching experience, guiding teams of various styles.”

The Canucks have missed the playoffs the past two seasons since reaching the second round in the COVID-19 bubble in 2020.

Boudreau was with his fourth NHL organization 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.

But a Canucks team in disarray did not give him much of a chance to keep that success going. Rutherford in a news conference 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.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.