Rick Tocchet’s focus on process over results is a breath of fresh air for Canucks fans
Photo credit:© Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
9 months ago
New Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet trusts the process. Even in the losses.
Despite the score line in their 5-4 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils on Monday, the effort Tocchet’s Canucks put in was chalked full of positives. They hung in with the Devils’ high-powered attack for the vast majority of the game and got crucial offensive contributions across the entire lineup, from Curtis Lazar to recent AHL call-up Phil Di Giuseppe.
All it took for the game to get away from them was 50 seconds in the second period. In that span, the Canucks’ defence completely fell apart and allowed three preventable goals, setting up for Jesper Bratt’s eventual game-winner in overtime.
Still, it was a strong overall effort from a team that just traded their leading goal scorer and captain, and they wound up with a single point that they more than earned.
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But Tocchet isn’t worried about final scores right now. He’s a lot more focused on building consistent habits from game to game.
“You know we want results, but I’m not worried about the results. I’m worried about the process,” Tocchet said before the game in New Jersey. “And I know that’s the most overused word. We all use it, but it’s true.”
“The way you deal with practices, the way you deal with day-to-day, how do you make young guys [into] a pro, a real pro. It’s a process, you can’t just say, ‘hey, we want to win games’. There’s so much [that goes] into it.”
Tocchet’s current philosophy represents a very different direction for the team compared to when Bruce Boudreau was coaching. Clear job security will do that.
The Canucks seem to have resigned themselves to their fate lying at the bottom of the standings, albeit reluctantly. And Tocchet, just three weeks into his new three-year contract, seems more than comfortable with that direction.
But he also knows that the process has to turn into success eventually. And the Devils across the ice yesterday are a prime example.
New Jersey spent years sailing the seas of mediocrity before diving head-first into a rebuild in 2018-19. After finishing third last in the NHL that year, the Devils won the draft lottery and the right to select Jack Hughes, adding a future star to a cast of young talent that already included Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt and Yegor Sharangovich.
Since then, New Jersey has made shrewd trades and assembled a roster built on speed and skill for head coach Lindy Ruff. Now the Devils are being rewarded for their patience with the third-best record in the NHL, and Tocchet sees them as a prime example of what the Canucks should be trying to accomplish.
“Everybody wants the results, but you got to be part of the process. And I think the Devils have gone through a process to get the results that they’re getting now. It’s no different than us,” Tocchet said.
“So I think this organization, the Devils, they’ve gone through it the last three, four years to get to the point where they are.”
The Canucks may not have the same prospect pool to draw from that the Devils have had over that timespan, but hopefully with a coach that’s willing to play the long game toward cultivating a winning team, the front office assembling his roster will be willing to follow suit. The Bo Horvat trade was a good start for Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin, but it crucially needs to be built upon in the months ahead, and that might mean a lot fewer close games like Monday’s down the road.
But in the meantime, Rick Tocchet will keep finding ways to trust the process.
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