It was considered a formality that Rick Tocchet would be a candidate for the Sabres’ coaching job. It appears he’s not.
Buffalo did not contact Tocchet about the job, Darren Dreger of TSN reported Thursday. The Sabres had no comment. Their policy is to not confirm who has or has not interviewed.
I'm surprised to learn the Sabres did not contact Rick Tocchet about coaching vacancy.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 15, 2017
The absence of Tocchet is a surprising development. The Pittsburgh assistant coach is well-acquainted with Sabres General Manager Jason Botterill, who spent the past 10 seasons with the Penguins. Buffalo extended its search past the Stanley Cup finals, presumably to talk with Tocchet and Nashville assistant coach Phil Housley.
Subtracting Tocchet from the equation leaves Housley as the favorite and Washington associate coach Todd Reirden as a contender. Botterill conducted other interviews, though some candidates have already taken other jobs.
Botterill entered the process saying he has been surprised and impressed by interviews before, so there’s a small chance a dark-horse candidate remains. The GM said he wanted to wrap up the search either late this week or early next week.
The major knock on Tocchet's candidacy was his connection to a gambling ring. Sabres owner Terry Pegula pledged to bring "discipline, structure, communication and character" to the organization. Tocchetto pleaded guilty to conspiracy to promote gambling and promoting gambling in May 2007 and was out of the NHL for two years.