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Scenes from practice: Tocchet talks about Canucks’ “by committee” defence pairings

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Photo credit:© Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
6 months ago
The Vancouver Canucks’ home opener and first game of the regular season are just nine days.
All through training camp and the preseason, we’ve seen Rick Tocchet and his coaching staff work plenty on systems, structure, and overall teaching, and today’s practice was no difference. No shenanigans, just right to what went down at today’s practice out at UBC!

What we saw

Don’t worry, Elias Pettersson was just feeling a little bit under the weather and was told to stay home from Monday’s practice. He hasn’t been cut from the team because Jack Studnicka has outplayed him for the first line centre spot.
No, the real things to pay attention to from today’s line rushes are:
-Dakota Joshua is up on the third line while Nils Höglander skates on the fourth line. During Sunday’s practice, Joshua rotated in and out of the fourth line with Nils Åman, so it will be interesting to see how the Canucks line up on Wednesday night in Abbotsford.
-Cole McWard is here to stay, and he’s getting at least one more look playing most of his minutes alongside Quinn Hughes. What was more interesting though, was what Tocchet said when asked about the Canucks’ pairings…

What was said

Rick Tocchet‘s quote about the defence pairings and having regular partners is the story here. All offseason long, fans and media asked the golden question of “who is going to play with Quinn Hughes?”, and it turns out the Canucks’ answer appears to be “everyone.”
“I think we’re a committee, and I want them to get used to it,” said Tocchet when asked about Ian Cole and Filip Hronek being split up. “I thought Coler and Hronek, it was more Coler — it wasn’t so much he struggled, I didn’t really like his first a little bit — and I said to Footy [Canucks assistant coach Adam Foote] ‘it’s up to you’ but Footy wanted to make the change and I think it settles things down. I don’t think that’s an issue with our team, I think it’s okay to have a committee. I don’t think we’re going to have true partners the whole year, so might as well get used to playing with different guys. That was our thought process.”
“Huggy’s going to get his minutes, Hronek’s a guy that can get a lot of minutes, and I think the other guys are guys that sporadically can play heavy minutes but also have other guys that can fill in. We’re built like a committee and I like that. Some teams are built different where they’ve got three guys that play 20+, obviously Huggy and Hronek going to get his time.”
When asked specifically what skill set he’s looking for in Hughes’ potential partner, Tocchet said:
“Just like all our defence, defend the puck well, can pass the puck, can participate in the offensive zone too. I feel like all our D have those attributes it’s just a matter of this committee thing. I know you guys [the media] want this ‘Who’s the guy?’ Right now, we don’t have that guy per se. To me, we do have the guys, we have a bunch of guys that can do it. Just like in baseball, you have a lot of relievers that are great relievers, that’s the way I look at it.”
Let’s just hope Ethan Bear’s recovery is ahead of schedule…

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