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Possible Red Wings Coaching Candidate Once Injured Steve Yzerman



Rick Tocchet, coaching

Barry Trotz. Derek Lalonde. Now Rick Tocchet. Those are three coaching candidates that have been linked to the vacant Detroit Red Wings’ job.

GM Steve Yzerman runs a leak-proof organization. Reporters would have an easier time getting KFC to reveal Colonel Sanders’ seven herbs and spices or Coca Cola to give up its secret formula than getting Yzerman or his lieutenants to discuss the team’s plans.

We know Barry Trotz interviewed with the Winnipeg Jets and John Tortorella talked to the Philadelphia Flyers. But little information about the Red Wings’ search has emerged. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said he expects Trotz to talk with Detroit. The question about Trotz, 59, is would he be willing to take on a rebuilding team? It seems more likely that Trotz would want to coach a contender like Vegas for example.

On the Jeff Marek show, he threw out the name of Tampa Bay assistant coach Derek Lalonde. Detroit Hockey Now also listed him on our original list of potential candidates. We viewed him as a potential candidate because he is a highly-respected assistant coach on a two-time defending Stanley Cup championship team.

Plus, and maybe more importantly, Yzerman hired him in Tampa Bay when Yzerman was the Lightning’s general manager.  Lalonde once coached the Toledo Walleye.

Tocchet a Candidate?

Friedman also said on Hockey Night in Canada that Yzerman could be interested in Tocchet because Yzerman wants a demanding coach. The desire for a demanding coach fits with what Detroit Hockey Now has been told. However, no one has mentioned Tocchet’s name. Tocchet, 58, has previously been the head coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Arizona Coyotes. He has a .490 points percentage.

If the Tocchet speculation is true, and Tocchet receives an interview, it means Yzerman doesn’t hold a grudge. In 1998, Tocchet injured Yzerman with a kneeing incident. Yzerman suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee.

Tocchet was playing for the Phoenix Coyotes at the time.

“You don’t want to see a guy like Steve Yzerman get hurt,” Tocchet told the media in Detroit. “But when he’s trying to get out of the way, I couldn’t stop in time. I’ve known Steve Yzerman for a long time. I would never try to hurt him. I think too much of him.”

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Then-Detroit Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman said he viewed the hit as vicious. He said Tocchet also stuck out his knee on Nick Lidstrom later in game.

“The player who sticks out his knee can say he didn’t mean it,” Bowman said. “But it’s like a guy who shoots a guy and says he didn’t mean it.”

Of course, this was 24 years ago. It’s almost a hockey tradition to look past previous physical encounters. Plenty of Red Wings disliked Chris Chelios because of the way he played. Then he joined the Red Wings and he became one of the more popular players in the dressing room.