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Boudreau fired by Canucks; Former Comets coach Cull also out of job

Staff and wire reports
Posted 1/23/23

Bruce Boudreau has been fired as coach of the Vancouver Canucks, who are again on track to miss the playoffs with another underachieving season.

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Boudreau fired by Canucks; Former Comets coach Cull also out of job

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Bruce Boudreau has been fired as coach of the Vancouver Canucks, who are again on track to miss the playoffs with another underachieving season.

The organization also dismissed former Utica Comets head coach Trent Cull. He had been serving as a Canucks' assistant coach this season.

The team announced the changes Sunday, 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 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 Saturday night, 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 and former Comets bench boss Travis Green and general manager Jim Benning were let go 25 games into last season.

The 49-year-old Cull, who was the Comets' second head coach after Green was promoted from Utica, led the Comets from 2017 through 2021. After the Canucks relocated their AHL affiliate to British Columbia, he coached the team there for the 2021-22 season.

Cull led the Comets through some rough times as the Canucks' affiliate, including when the team had to navigate through many injuries. The team made the playoffs in his first season during the 2017-18 campaign but the team missed the next season. There weren't playoff formats in his last two seasons with the Comets due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Comets never had a season below a .500 points percentage under Cull. He has a 122-93-17-9 record with the Comets. Before joining Utica, he was also a Syracuse Crunch assistant coach for eight total seasons.

Legendary former defenseman Adam Foote was named as a Canucks assistant and Sergei Gonchar a defensive development coach on Tocchet's staff.

Notably, Adam Foote is the father of Nolan Foote, the New Jersey Devils forward prospect who is in his second season with the Comets.

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 Monday 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.

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