When the Vancouver Canucks fired Travis Green, few of us were surprised. His grasp on the gig was tenuous to begin with, and the Canucks had three wins in 13 games.
When they replaced him with Bruce Boudreau ... again, few of us were surprised. Boudreau is the NHL's answer to The Wolf in "Pulp Fiction," the guy you bring in to quickly clean up a gruesome mess and crack a few jokes in the process. If Canucks ownership felt there was a playoff berth somewhere in this team, there was only one man to call. That he knows his way around coaching highly skilled young players is a bonus.
So why weren't either of these events surprising? It's because NHL fans have this strange, Borg-like hive mind sometimes where we assume something will happen and then it inevitably does. Like Jack Eichel getting traded to the Vegas Golden Knights: This was the least interesting outcome, because we knew Vegas could ante up the most for him and because we knew owner Bill Foley still needed a No. 1 center for his Pokémon collection of NHL stars. We just knew.
There are other decisions and events that most hockey fans suppose will happen. So we've decided to investigate these widely held beliefs. Here is the NHL Assumptions Test, in which we either confirm your suspicions or provide needles for your balloons, based on the probability of the event. Which in itself is an assumption, come to think of it.
Assumption: Rick Tocchet will be the next coach of the Philadelphia Flyers
It's strange to watch a Flyers team with no discernible personality, because this is a franchise whose very logo conjures visions to gap-tooth smiles and on-ice assaults. That's undoubtedly the appeal of Tocchet, who spent 621 games and 1,815 penalty minutes with the Flyers in two different stints as a player. He's a bit overrated as a head coach, in the sense that anyone who squeezes even a little success out of the Arizona Coyotes gets an achievement multiplier. (See also: Darcy Kuemper and Don Maloney). His teams there never generated enough offense to match their consistently decent defense.
Tocchet is currently a studio analyst with TNT, where he's quite good as the sarcastic older brother to Paul Bissonnette.
Probability: 75%. The lure of "ex-Flyer returns to make Flyers good again" is probably too strong for the team to ignore. But keep in mind that (a) maybe Tocchet likes being on TV, (b) GM Chuck Fletcher's unending admiration for interim coach Mike Yeo and (c) that there are other interesting candidates out there, including former Dallas Stars coach Jim Montgomery, who is not only a former Flyers player but coined "The Legion of Doom" nickname for the Eric Lindros line, no less.
OK and (d) the financial aspect of this. Alain Vigneault makes $5 million annually through 2023-24. Tocchet made $1.5 million as head coach of the Coyotes and is rather well-compensated as a TV analyst. That could be a lot of cheddar between the guy they hire to coach and the guy they're paying to not coach...