With less than a week until their season opener, the Arizona Coyotes are making a change to their coaching staff. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that Jay Varady, the head coach of the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners, has been promoted to the NHL staff. Friedman does note that this move could be just for the 2020-21 season. Beat writer Craig Morgan adds that this is an additional position on Rick Tocchet’s staff and will not impact existing assistants Phil Housley and Cory Stillman. It remains to be seen how Varady will be replaced, as the Roadrunners plan to participate in the coming AHL season starting next month.
Varady, 43, did not waste any time getting to the NHL as he is entering just his third season as a coach in the North American pros after being named head coach of Tucson in 2018. Prior to his time with the Roadrunners, Varady spent many years as an assistant coach in the NCAA and WHL before becoming a head coach, first with France’s Angers, then many years with the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers, and finally one season with the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. Last season, Varady led the Roadrunners to a Pacific Division title and earned the nod as the Western Conference head coach as the AHL All-Star Game.
Morgan notes that this move does not come as a surprise, as the possibility of Varady’s ascension came to light earlier this off-season. Morgan writes that Tocchet has faith in Varady’s ability given his success in the AHL thus far. It also certainly doesn’t hurt to have a coach with experience and success coaching young players on a youthful Coyotes squad. Varady becomes the second new addition to Tocchet’s staff this off-season following Stillman, who also played forward in his career and has coached at the junior level and in a player development context. However, there is no shortage of work for the new coaches to split following the exit of assistant coach John MacLean, who worked with the forwards, the power play and the penalty kill in his time with Arizona.