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Andre Tourigny introduced as Coyotes new head coach

The Arizona Coyotes checked off the most pressing task on their offseason to-do list Thursday, filling their head coaching vacancy with the hiring of Andre Tourigny. It will be Tourigny’s first gig as a head coach in the NHL, though he’s a veteran NHL assistant and an accomplished juniors coach.

Though it may be somewhat of a surprising hire, there’s a lot of reason to believe it could work out for the Coyotes – especially as they transition into a new era with what should be a busy offseason. 

The club, which fired Rick Tocchet immediately after a disappointing 2021 campaign, finishing with 54 points in 56 games, putting them fifth in the West Division and outside of the playoff picture. Overall, another poor season for the Yotes, who were competitive in their last three seasons under Tocchet but failed to get over the hump. They made the playoffs just once (in 2020) and won the best-of-five play-in round before then losing in the Round of 16. The team has won just two best-of-seven playoff series in their history, both coming in 2012.

Twenty-five years after arriving in the desert, the Coyotes are still largely struggling to establish themselves as a legitimate, relevant NHL franchise. The hope is that Tourigny will help turn that around by helping guide and develop a new-look Coyotes roster. Given the state of the team and Tourigny’s strengths, it seems likely that the Coyotes are heading into a rebuild and they wanted a coach that could bring the most out of young players.

Though he doesn’t have the NHL success that some other free agent coaches boast, Tourigny has fared well on the junior circuit. He most recently coached Canada to a silver medal at the 2021 World Junior Championship, and he’s spent the past three seasons as head coach and VP of Hockey Operations for the Ottawa 67s of the Ontario Hockey League. He was named OHL coach of the year in each of the league’s past two seasons.

Bill Armstrong, who took over as Coyotes general manager last September, clearly wanted to bring in a bench leader that could not only coach a roster, but also help build one.

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Arizona Coyotes hockey team General Manager Bill Armstrong, left, poses with new head coach Andre Tourigny, right, as the two hold up a jersey during a news conference at Gila River Arena Thursday, July 1, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

"It's a value to have his opinion," Armstrong said while introducing Tourigny as his new head coach. "There's a famous story of an organization I kind of grew up in where we got a great player, the coach didn't like him, he never played him. They have to be part of the process and have some input on what they like and how can we make the team better. They're living with those guys night and day, so they do get a seat at the table.”

Heading into this offseason, the Coyotes have just three forwards and two defensemen signed beyond next season. They have more than $31 million in cap space and a relatively open canvas to work with. They could be looking at a major makeover in the coming years and it seems that Tourigny is going to have an opportunity to identify and suggest players that he believes will work well in his system.

Tourigny talked a lot about the “fit” in Arizona.

"You go somewhere, you want to make sure the philosophy will align and how they want to do things fits with you. I cannot be another coach, I am who I am," Tourigny said.

"Other places might be really good, but it's not a fit for who I am and how I do things. You don't want to just get there because 'OK, I'm in the NHL.' You want to get somewhere where you can be successful and can fit your philosophy, and here it's a really good fit."

He’s had success identifying young talent and making personnel decisions at the junior level, but will it translate at the NHL ranks? That’s something that is going to take time to figure out. But Tourigny should have plenty of leash and flexibility to develop alongside his new players in Arizona – he’s a new coach, hand-selected and working side-by-side with a new GM, who is going to have a tailored roster.

Tourigny isn’t facing any pressure to win in a current window – the Coyotes have brought him in because they think he’s the guy to help establish a new one.

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