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Reports: Rick Tocchet nearing deal to become Arizona Coyotes coach

| Thursday, July 6, 2017, 6:15 p.m.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan (center) said assistants Rick Tocchet (left) and Jacques Martin have been invaluable during the playoffs.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan (center) said assistants Rick Tocchet (left) and Jacques Martin have been invaluable during the playoffs.
Penguins coaches Mike Sullivan and Rick Tocchet observe the action during a game against the Islanders on Tuesday, March 15, 2016, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins coaches Mike Sullivan and Rick Tocchet observe the action during a game against the Islanders on Tuesday, March 15, 2016, at Consol Energy Center.
Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet talks with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury after the Lightning's fourth goal during game four of the Eastern Conference Finals Friday, May 20, 2016 at Amalie Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet talks with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury after the Lightning's fourth goal during game four of the Eastern Conference Finals Friday, May 20, 2016 at Amalie Arena.

The Arizona Coyotes are closing in on Penguins assistant Rick Tocchet as their next coach, according to multiple reports Thursday.

Tocchet, 53, has been a member of the Penguins coaching staff since 2014, working primarily with the team's forwards. He has focused on the power play at times and has emerged as a primary confidante for winger Phil Kessel.

Arizona has been looking for a coach since firing Dave Tippett in June.

Tocchet has ties to the Coyotes. He played with the team from 1997-2000 and was an assistant coach under Wayne Gretzky in 2005-06, taking a leave of absence in 2006 to deal with sports gambling charges. Tocchet later pleaded guilty to those charges.

Tocchet also has head coaching experience, manning the position with the Tampa Bay Lightning for the better part of two seasons from 2008-10.

Earlier this offseason, Tocchet was linked to a head coaching vacancy in Buffalo that was eventually filled by Phil Housley. Canadian television networks TSN and Sportsnet reported Arizona's interest in Tocchet.

—Jonathan Bombulie

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