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Rick Tocchet outlines increased coaching responsibilities for new Canucks assistant Yogi Svejkovsky as well as Sedins

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
6 days ago
The Vancouver Canucks considered several options to fill the assistant coaching vacancy on Rick Tocchet’s staff, but the guy they wanted was already in the organization. The Canucks announced on Wednesday that skills coach Yogi Svejvosky had been promoted to replace Mike Yeo who left last week and has since joined Travis Green’s coaching staff with the Ottawa Senators.
Speaking to the media via Zoom, Tocchet had nothing but glowing praise for Svejkovsky and is excited about what he’ll bring to the opportunity.
“He caught my attention when I first got here, I didn’t know really much about him but every day he impressed me on little things whether I asked him or he brought to me,” Tocchet said. “You give him a project and it’s on my table like that. His work ethic is next to none. I watched the players around him. They go by my office and I’d go ‘do you need me?’ and they’re like ‘no we don’t need you, we’re looking for Yogi.’ That impresses me.”
Tocchet says Svejkvosky was in line for a promotion and an increased portfolio even if there hadn’t been an opening on the staff this summer. The head coach pointed to the tireless work Svejkovsky put in with injured players helping them prepare for their return to the line-up as an example of behind the scenes things he’d done to help the hockey club.
Tocchet says the organization looked at external candidates for the position but said President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford is big on promoting from within. And that’s why after exploring their options, the Canucks decided Svejkovsky was the right man for the job.
He’ll be tasked with bringing new ideas to a power play that went stale in the second half of the season and, ultimately, let the Canucks down in the playoffs. But the responsibility for the success of the power play won’t fall on Svejkovsky alone. Tocchet says Daniel and Henrik Sedin will increase the amount they’re involved with the man-advantage and they’ll be more hands on than they have been by expanding their travel with the team next season. The plan is for at least one of the twins to be on every extended road trip as they add to their roles and responsibilities with the hockey club.
“They’re going to take a little bit of a bigger chunk and I think they feel comfortable doing that now, before I think they liked coming along slowly,” Tocchet explained. “They’re willing to take more of a bite of the apple for us now.”
In addition to his NHL bench staff, Tocchet expressed his excitement to work closely with new Abbotsford head coach Manny Malhotra. Tocchet says while he met Malthora on a few occasions when he was an assistant on Travis Green’s staff, he doesn’t know him well. 
But he’s looking forward to forging that bond and leaning on Malhotra to develop prospects in the minors that Tocchet can plug into the big league line-up.
“He did a presentation on pre-scouting to NHL coaches at the draft in Vancouver (in 2019) and he had to go up there in front of a thousand people for 20 or 30 minutes, it’s a hard thing to do and I thought he nailed it,” Tocchet recalled. “Talking to some people in Toronto, a very positive guy, a very loyal and tireless worker. I think it’s a great hire. We’re excited about getting him.”
With Malhotra in his first head coaching job in professional hockey and Svejkovsky getting a shot as an assistant at this level for the first time, Tocchet downplayed the lack of experience on his staff. He pointed to the long tenures of Sergei Gonchar and Ian Clark as NHL coaches and trumpeted the work done by Adam Foote in his year and half in his role running the Canucks defence.
In the end, Tocchet says the staffing decisions are done with the eye to putting the players in the best positions possible to succeed. And that’s why he feels the Canucks made the right call by promoting Svejkovsky.
“I like the way he’s dealt with the players, in one on one meetings and the way he runs practice, it’s the trust,” Tocchet said. “When a JT Miller or an Elias Lindholm seek out Yogi to ask his opinion, that goes a long way in my books. Did I look at other coaches? A little bit. But I felt this was the best way to go to keep the continuity of the staff.”
Tocchet confirmed the organization is looking at candidates to replace Svejkovsky as skills coach. Those discussions are taking place, but no one has been hired yet.

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