Rick Tocchet, signed last season, is slowly getting to know his players with the Vancouver Canucks but wants to lead by example to convince a star like Elias Pettersson to stay on board.
The Swede is enjoying his holiday in his country and recently said he is in no hurry to sign a contract extension. In 2023-24, the Canucks will have to prove they are the best option for the 24-year-old forward.
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“When we check all the boxes every day, Petey sees that the organization is well run, the coaching staff is competent and he sees improvement in our players […] Maybe it’s more attractive for him to sign,” Tocchet explained in an interview with the Sportsnet network on Friday.
Pettersson will likely lose out when he becomes a restricted free agent next summer. His 102-point season last year would convince any team to give him the moon.
“I think it is important that the agent knows his customer. Some guys can handle pressure [d’une négociation de contrat] and others don’t, said Tocchet, who admitted he doesn’t yet know enough about the center. I know Petey is determined to be in good shape and take his game to the next level.”
Back to reality
To ingratiate himself with Pettersson, Tocchet will have to find a way to get the Canucks back to the playoffs after three more difficult years. The coaches took turns at the helm, but the former Arizona Coyotes pilot wants to motivate his troops.
“Everyone is tired of losing. You hear everyone say that. It’s okay to say that, but what are you doing to change that?” the 59-year-old asked himself.
“This team is capable of success. It’s about making everyone understand how difficult it is to win. To win, you have to do a lot of things that make you uncomfortable. I’ve only been here for 30 games, but I can see that some players don’t seem to know where we’re going. […] Is it about getting into the playoffs or winning a round? I don’t know. For me it’s about whether we as an organization can put in the effort necessary to get to the next level.”
The Canucks were far from qualifying for the playoffs last season with just 83 points. They made several changes over the summer, releasing defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and adding guards Carson Soucy and Ian Cole and forwards Teddy Blueger and Pius Suter.