Boudreau, who was in his second season as coach, was replaced by Rick Tocchet.
“We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Bruce and Trent for their contributions to this organization,” Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said. “We appreciate their dedication and wish them nothing but the best moving forward. This was not an easy decision to make, but one that we felt was necessary for this franchise.
“Rick Tocchet brings a wealth of knowledge to this team from both a coach and player perspective. He has had more than two decades of coaching experience, guiding teams of various styles. As a player, he displayed a high level of character, grit and intensity, while recording impressive offensive numbers.”
The Canucks (18-25-3) have lost 10 of their past 12 games and are sixth in the Pacific Division, 14 points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. They are 31st in the NHL in goals against per game (3.96) and last on the penalty kill (65.9 percent).
“I thought it was over in November, when there was certain things said. And it wasn’t,” Boudreau said. “We kept going. We kept going. This last stretch was pretty tough. … The guys gave it their all. I’m so proud of them. Everyone, they wanted to win. People don’t realize how bad they want to win. And then when they don’t win, they’re so upset with themselves. But they came and they worked every day at practice. They didn’t question anything I said, they just followed orders. A great group of guys that, I think it’s Rick Tocchet, is taking over.”
Following his last game with the Canucks, a 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, Boudreau stayed on the bench and clapped as fans chanted “Bruce, there it is.” He then fought back tears in his postgame press conference.
“You never know if it’s the end,” Boudreau said. “So when you’ve been in it for almost 50 years, you know, the majority of your life, and now if it’s the end, I had to stay out there and look at the crowd and just try to say, ‘OK, try remember this moment type of thing.’
“I just wanted to savor looking at the stands, because who knows if I’m ever going to get this chance again.
“I don’t think I lost the room, just lost games. I just had 15 [players] come up to me, we’re all crying together, which is silly for us men to do sometimes, but I think they would have went through a wall for me and, as a coach, that’s all you can ask for, quite frankly.”
Boudreau was hired by the Canucks to replace Travis Green on Dec. 5, 2021. At the time, the Canucks were 8-15-3 and last in the Pacific, but Boudreau went 32-15-10 with them, missing the playoffs by just two points.
That led to Vancouver announcing May 13 that Boudreau would return as coach. Boudreau’s contract had included a team option for the 2022-23 season, as well as an option for him to walk away, according to Sportsnet.
However, the Canucks got off to a slow start this season, losing their first seven games (0-5-2), including becoming the first team in NHL history to blow a multigoal lead in each of its first four games of a season.
Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford then said Jan. 16 that he was sticking with Boudreau as coach, although he also confirmed that he had spoken to potential candidates to replace him.
“I will say I have and I’m not going to get into names,” Rutherford said. “And this is even going back a couple of months ago, that I have called a few people to talk to people, but with that it was clear that I’m calling and talking but don’t know that we’re making a change and don’t want to make a change.
“When I came here (Dec. 10, 2021), I knew it was going to be a big challenge and I thought we’re going to have to minor surgery. Have I changed my position? Yeah, we have to do major surgery and between now and the start of next season, we’re going to have to make some changes.
“Some won’t be very popular, some will be popular, but we’re going to have to really do some things that I didn’t think we would normally have to do when I first got here on how we make those changes.”
Vancouver captain Bo Horvat, who can become an unrestricted free agent after the season and reportedly turned down an eight-year contract offer, said the team gave it their all for Boudreau.
“We’re proud of the way we stuck with it and fought until the very end,” Horvat said. “We all really care about Bruce in here. He cares about every single guy in this room, and whatever the fate may be, we’re always going to respect him as a person and as a coach.
“He’s done nothing but great things for us, so much respect for him. And he’s always going to be one of my favorites.”
Boudreau, 68, is 617-342-128 in 1,087 games with the Canucks, Minnesota Wild, Anaheim Ducks and Washington Capitals, and 43-47 in 90 playoff games. His .626 points percentage in the regular season is second in NHL history among coaches with at least 1,000 games, behind Scotty Bowman (.657).
“Obviously, we feel like we let him down in the room,” Canucks defenseman Luke Schenn said. “He deserves better. I think that’s on us as players. I’ve played obviously a long time and I’ve gone through, I don’t know, a handful of coaching changes, and a lot of time you do need a shake up, and sometimes coaches do lose the room, and I don’t think this was the case here. Guys enjoy playing for Bruce, and in this room, we feel like we let him down. We wanted to continue to try to do better for him, and unfortunately, just too many losses piled up.”
Tocchet will coach his first game against the Chicago Blackhawks in Vancouver on Tuesday (10 p.m. ET; TVAS, SNP, NBCSCH, ESPN+, SN NOW). He worked as a television analyst for Turner Sports the past two years after going 125-131-34 as coach of the Arizona Coyotes from 2017-21. The 58-year-old also coached the Tampa Bay Lightning for two seasons from 2008-10, going 53-69-26, and won the Stanley Cup twice as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins (2016, 2017).
Adam Foote was named assistant coach and Sergei Gonchar defensive development coach.
“We are also excited about the additions of Adam Foote and Sergei Gonchar to our coaching staff,” Allvin said. “Both individuals enjoyed long, successful playing careers as NHL defencemen and together provide a wide range of expertise on both sides of the puck. Tocchet, Foote, and Gonchar all bring a championship pedigree to the organization and we look forward to welcoming them to Vancouver.”
As a player, Tocchet had 952 points (440 goals, 512 assists) in 1,144 games over 18 seasons from 1984-2002 with the Philadelphia Flyers, Penguins, Los Angeles Kings, Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals and Phoenix Coyotes. He also had 112 points (52 goals, 60 assists) in 145 playoff games, including helping the Penguins win the Cup in 1992.
NHL.com independent correspondent Kevin Woodley contributed to this report