Story By Evan Oscherwitz
The Coyotes’ search for a new head coach came to an end Thursday, when the team announced the hiring of André Tourigny as the 19th bench boss in franchise history.
Tourigny, the 2019-20 Canadian Hockey League coach of the year, brings with him a nearly two decade-long resume of success at the highest level of Canadian junior hockey. The 47 year-old Quebec native also coached Team Canada to a gold medal at the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championship and previously served as an assistant coach in the NHL with the Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche between 2013 and 2016.
“The best thing about [André] is his ability to teach and bring young talent to the forefront,” Coyotes General Manager Bill Armstrong said. “We’re excited about him leading this franchise into the new era.”
We got our guy. pic.twitter.com/1pJ5UkzHZA
— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) July 1, 2021
Tourigny takes over a squad that has only managed to reach the playoffs once in the last nine seasons. In four years under previous head coach Rick Tocchet, the Coyotes went 125-131-34 and were marred by late-season collapses that kept them out of the postseason.
During the interview process, the Coyotes made it clear that they were looking for a first-time head coach to fill the vacancy. None of the candidates interviewed by the team, including Tourigny, had NHL head coaching experience, indicating that the organization may be headed towards a youth movement of sorts.
“I felt there were a lot of qualified people that had been overlooked,” Armstrong said. “I kind of knew what we were looking for here and where we’re moving. We targeted those types of coaches and André rose to the forefront.”
In his introductory press conference, Tourigny talked about instilling a culture of accountability, where the same rules apply to every player and excuses are not tolerated. His junior teams were known for being fast and physical, and he expressed a desire to transform the Coyotes into a team that embodies those traits.
Coach André Tourigny (@BearTourigny ) is the recipient of the @CHLHockey's Brian Kilrea award, as the league’s Coach of the Year.👏#NoQuit | 🗞️: https://t.co/igSH11aG6d pic.twitter.com/Zxcs0rBxoz
— Ottawa 67’s (@Ottawa67sHockey) June 1, 2020
“I like a team [that] is relentless,” Tourigny said. “I like to play a style of play that is tough to play against and with a lot of pace. Being relentless and accountable, that is the way I will describe what I want to bring.”
Under Rick Tocchet, the Coyotes played a system that centered around puck possession and limiting scoring chances for the opponent, a far cry from the fast-paced, end-to-end style of play that Tourigny seeks to implement. Fortunately, the Coyotes’ large number of expiring contracts means that Armstrong will be able to reconstruct the team’s roster in accordance with Tourigny’s vision.
“There’s a lot of holes to fill,” Armstrong said. “Especially on the back side. We’ll be looking to tap into free agency and looking to acquire some players that will give us some identity.”
By hiring Tourigny, the Coyotes appear to be investing in their future. With young players like 2018 first-round pick Barrett Hayton and 2019 first-rounder Victor Söderström slated to step into key roles next season, finding a coach who communicates well with young players was of paramount importance, and Tourigny’s track record of success at the major junior level seems to indicate that he is the right man for the job.