Say what you will about his post-career mistakes, but when Rick Tocchet played with the Pens he tallied his only 100-plus point season. Attribute it to playing alongside Lemieux, Francis and Stevens; or just give Tocchet the props he deserves.
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Like those before him (Orest Kindrachuk) and the many Penguins of the future (John Leclair, Mark Recchi), Rick Tocchet started his career with the Philadelphia Flyers. In good time he'd soon realize the error of his ways and move on to a short but formidable career in Pittsburgh.
Prior to his assignment to the Pens, Tocchet had his best season with Philly in 1989-90, scoring 37 goals for 96 points and 196 penalty minutes. Hardly one to avoid the penalty box, Tocchet became known as a scrapper and scorer over the span of his 16 year career, much like that of a present day Ryan Malone.
When the Penguins made their second consecutive run at the Cup during the 91-92 season, they acquired Tocchet for the second half of the season. His numbers weren't flattering in the short 19 regular season games with Pitt, but his 19-point postseason performance helped with fire support in the wake of Lemieux's broken hand from the stick of Adam Graves.
It was really the 92-93 season (and run at a third Cup) that put Rick Tocchet on the map in Pittsburgh. Not many players can tally over 250 penalty minutes in a single season AND also score over 100 points (109 to be exact). Tocchet's 109 alongside Lemieux's 160, Francis' 100, Jagr's 94 and Stevens' 111 is the thing dreams are made of. There was no doubt Pitt would make it to the playoffs, but no one expected the Islanders to eliminate the Pens in the second round.
The 1994 season would prove to be Rick's last with the club, playing the remainder of his career with the Kings, Bruins, Caps and Coyotes before heading back to Philly to close out the same way he came in.
Tocchet's contributions with the Pens were no doubt some of the best numbers of his career, but Rick remained fairly consistent throughout the course of his career; predominantly in the realm of penalty minutes.
As you've probably read, heard and re-read by this point, Tocchet's post-career endeavors found him involved in an illegal gambling ring that ultimately ousted him from the league in 2006. In 2008, up for his reinstatement with the league, Tocchet resumed his assistant coaching position with the Phoenix Coyotes under the one rule that he could never participate in any gambling endeavor regardless of the degree. Additionally, Tocchet was ordered to attend therapy to help him overcome his gambling urges.
It's unfortunate that most people remember Rick Tocchet for the bad instead of the good, especially when you consider how good a hockey player he really was. In either case, it's extremely unfortunate that no one recognizes him for the great chef he really was.
Be sure to check in again next Monday for another Pensburgh installment of Pens of the Past.