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Homecoming for Rick Tocchet and three other ex-Flyers now with Coyotes

Former Flyers winger Zac Rinaldo on the Wells Fargo Center: "When that place is rocking, you can't hear yourself breathe, you can't hear yourself think. That's what hockey's about."

New coach Rick Tocchet and the Coyotes are off to a 0-10-1 start, but have played much better than their record indicates.
New coach Rick Tocchet and the Coyotes are off to a 0-10-1 start, but have played much better than their record indicates.Read moreJOHN McINTOSH

It's a homecoming of sorts for four former Flyers who are now with the Arizona Coyotes.

Returning: Coyotes first-year head coach Rick Tocchet, forwards Zac Rinaldo and Nick Cousins, and defenseman Luke Schenn.

The Coyotes, with an anvil on their collective backs (see their 0-10-1 record), will face the Flyers Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

"We're getting chances," Tocchet said after his team's morning skate. "…Our Grade A's were 19 in our last game to New Jersey's eight. If we can put up those kind of numbers, eventually we're going to break the ice here."

New Jersey won the game, 4-3, by scoring two third-period power-play goals to wipe out an Arizona lead.

"The last two weeks, they're starting to get it, system-wise," Tocchet said. "We've outshot and out-chanced a lot of teams and we're coming up on the wrong end of the stick. I think a lot of it (is because) in the last five minutes of a game, we're making that crucial mistake and it ends up in our net."

Tocchet, 53, was formerly a Pittsburgh assistant, and he kidded that "maybe I won't get booed as much" because he is no longer with the hated Penguins.

"This is a great building," he said of the Wells Fargo Center. "The fans…every person wears a jersey and it's a loud building. They've got a good, young exciting team, with some veterans mixed in. Tough building."

Rinaldo, who still competes with an edge but has a much more disciplined style — he has 24 hits, and, stunningly, zero penalty minutes in six games — said he loved playing at the Wells Fargo Center for the Flyers, the team he idolized as a youngster.

"When that place is rocking, you can't hear yourself breathe, you can't hear yourself think," he said. "That's what hockey's about. That adrenaline, sometimes you won't get it through playing, but the fans will give it to you. And you just feed off of it and take off with it."

Cousins, who had dinner with some of his former Flyers teammates on Sunday, has a goal and an assist in nine games.

"It's a little bit of an adjustment, system-wise and coaching-wise," he said. "But it's been fun."

As far as the team's tough start, "I think we could easily have four or five wins right now," Cousins said. "It just seems like we have that one lapse in the second or third period. We have to limit those."

Schenn, at plus-1, is the only Arizona player with a "plus" rating.

"We've had an opportunity to win every game but have had a tough time closing out games," he said.

Schenn said Tocchet has "remained extremely positive" during the winless start. "We want to get the win for him as soon as we can. It's terrible for a coach to come in and not be able to get a win for him in the first 11 games. He's been great, considering what's been going on here."

Tocchet called Philadelphia "one of the top hockey markets" in the NHL. "Very passionate fans. When you're a young guy coming in here, they really take care of you as an organization and with the fans. You can just imagine if this team wins a Cup because it would be one helluva party around here."

In 621 career games that covered parts of 11 seasons with the Flyers (1984-85 to 1991-92 and 1999-00 to 2001-02), Tocchet scored 232 of his 440 career goals. With the Flyers, Tocchet had 1,817 penalty minutes, the most in franchise history.

"I have a lot of friends here," he said. "This city will always be dear to me…I lived in this area for like 20 years, so definitely when I come back it brings a lot of memories. Good memories, actually."


Goalie Scott Wedgewood, acquired in a trade with New Jersey, will make his Arizona debut. Wedgewood played four games with the Devils in 2015-16, compiling a 1.25 GAA and .957 save percentage…..The Flyers are averaging 3.45 goals per game, which is tied for seventh in the 31-team NHL….Sean Couturier has six points over his last two games.