For the 41st consecutive season, the Vancouver Canucks have not won the Stanley Cup. They did get their 16 wins, only one season too late, and perhaps one game too late as well, as the inglorious defeat to the Kings became a reality. The overtime winner by Jarret Stoll at 4:28 of overtime in game five of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs signaled a change in more than just the fortunes of the yearly tournament to win Lord Stanley’s Grail, but also the dawning of some serious change in Vancouver for the hometown Canucks. The glass here is not just half empty, but it may be more air than substance for the first time in a long time. Mike Gillis in his 30 minute interview addressed it all, from Hodgson to Luongo, but here are all the key areas the Canucks need to fix before the season starts this coming September.
Head Coach: Alain Vigneault
Assistant Coaches: Rick Bowness, Newell Brown
Goaltending Coach: Roland Melanson
Video Coach: Darryl Williams
Strength and Conditioning Coach: Roger Takahashi
I have previously written that the coaching staff should no longer include one man or another based on what I have witnessed on the ice. Like your average fan, I can only judge the coaching based on performance. Allow me to correspond with the top-5 criticisms for which Alain Vigneault and his staff have fallen prey in this market:
1. Vigneault wasn’t very nice to Cody Hodgson and therefore “cannot coach younger players”.
Cody Hodgson was a pain in the ass, and an overrated player. His 40 points per season won’t be missed by the Canucks and even if he amounts to an 80 point a season player, Mike Gillis, the man who will be behind the helm for the next 5 years at least, didn’t like him anymore and he drafted him. They way I see it, Gillis developed him, and reserved the right to trade his Lindros-whiny ass to whomever would take him. In this case the return was a toothless goon.
Fine. I don’t see how this is A.V.’s fault to be honest. Last I checked, Kesler was once a 21 year-old youngster under Alain Vigneault. He seems to be doing alright.
2. Vigneault can’t inspire his “troops”.
Inspire his.. what the… ? Seriously? If these guys who average the price of Umberto Menghi’s house per year, what motivation do they need exactly. Seriously, they chase around a frozen rubber puck for a living and get paid millions of dollars. They need their coach to motivate them? They need to play hockey.
Nevertheless, I can see the point those who argue this are making. A.V. has often used the media to motivate his players, which suggests that he doesn’t have a very open relationship with his team. Perhaps the distant coach is a better fit for consistency’s sake than the “best pal” approach, but the buddy system seems to be working wonders in L.A. where Daryl Sutter has adapted his style to suit today’s crybaby players, of which he has several in L.A. Do the Canucks need a softer, kinder AV? I don’t think so.
3. Vigneault has “lost the room”.
I can’t count how many time the inbred suburbanites have called into team 1040 to lament about how “AV has lost the room”. Are these people behind the walls? Are they hiding in between the ample room between Luongo’s jock strap and his strombone becoming privy to the dressing room AV so apparently “lost”? No. They are not. Seriously… enough. This is a business, and AV is a professional. He will be in Vancouver, and the Canucks will respond.
4. Vigneault babies Luongo and the rest of “his favourites”
The “favourites” theory has been floating around the radio waves for a while about Alain Vigneault and I can’t argue that it’s untrue, but who doesn’t have favourites? Aren’t the favourites the players who respond, listen and generally lead the team according to how the head coach envisions the game? Can you go wrong when AV’s favourites include the Sedins, Burrows, Kesler, Luongo, Bieksa, Hamhuis, and the role players who support the core?
In addition, last I checked, Schneider started around 30 games this season, and finished the year between the pipes in the series clinching game for Los Angeles. Vigneault does what it takes to win, and that means choosing the players who will sequence the game the way he envisions. Has he lost the core? I say no.
If anything, that career sieve Rolie Melanson needs to reconsider his posting and take the first greyhound out of Vancouver. Luongo has lost all confidence in Vancouver, and the star he was is no longer since Melanson has “changed his style”. This is a travesty and a waste of a great goaltender. What the hell has Melanson ever done to coach in this generation of goaltenders?
5. Vigneault mismanaged Kesler.
Look, when it comes to a man who is bent on playing through career ending injuries, it is at some point up to that player to realize that he can’t do what he wants to do. The last 4 out of 5 seasons, Kesler’s season has been cut short due to some injury likely sustained while throwing himself headlong into the boards, or deflecting pucks with his groin into the net. Should AV take Kes off the low slot on the power play? Probably. Should someone else kill penalties? Ya sure. Will the Canucks win as many games or get the $5.2 million of contract space he inhabits? Nope.
Play the junk out of Kesler, and Kes? Put on some muscle.
Coaching: Either you change them all, or keep them all. Winningest coach in Canucks history… 2 President’s trophies…. Glass half full… for now.