Saturday, 20 July 2013

The Top Ten Hits in Recent Canucks History; and One Not so Recent.

An awful lot of this.

The glorious summer sun is finally upon us (well at least here in Vancouver).Unfortunately for us hockey fanatics this fantastic weather comes at a price: hockey. The summer brings a serious lack of hockey highlights and an overwhelming amount of baseball on sports stations. Have no fear, we here at WeveGotTwins have got your hockey fix. Today, we give you the Top 10 Canucks Hits. The definition of a big hit: it makes the announcers change their tone of voice, it makes the crowd scream, and it makes you inadvertently cringe, stand up, or shout out -- sometimes all of the above. Nothing better to satisfy the summer hockey blues, than some bone crunching hits!

#10 – Alex Edler on Drew Doughty
This hit starts off the list, and man do I love this one. Edler comes flying in from the top of the crease and launches himself at Doughty who is streaking off the board straight to the net, and straight for Edler.
This hit makes the list because it shows just how much the players amp up their game in the playoffs. Edler commits his whole body to the hit so much that he flies through the air after making contact with Doughty. Way to go Edler that’s what we like to see.

#9 – Raffi Torres on Tyler Myers
This is the first of three Torres hits to make the list, and believe me they just get better. This hit is a textbook Torres collision: a man with his head down and Torres sends him flying. 
This hit makes the list because it demonstrates what many players are scared to do these days; which is clear house. The puck is along the wall, players are jabbing at it, playing with it, and one player finally thinks “naw, I’m going to take the body.” Raffi comes down the boards and sends Myers into the ejector seat…Oh, also Myers is 6’8” 230, nuff said.

#8 – Raffi Torres on Tomas Kaberle
See told you, more ginger beard! It is almost identical to the Myers hit, except it’s against the team we love to hate: Boston. Set up: Kaberle is skating back to his corner to retrieve a dump in, meanwhile Torres is barreling straight down the wing. Question: Will Kaberle A. make a pass without being hurt or B. Get absolutely steam rolled by Torres? Correct it is B.
This hit makes the list mainly because it is against the Bruins. I mean come on what Canucks fan doesn’t like to see this kind of stuff. Also, this is one of the few Torres hits that cannot be called into question. Torres hits a man cleanly and sends him off his feet, slamming into the boards. It is clean, it is solid, and it is monsterous!

#7 – Alexander Edler on Patrick Kane
Edler is one of the few Canucks that takes his physicality to another level come the playoffs. Just 14-seconds into Game Two of the 2011 playoffs against Chicago, Alexander Edler made his presence felt as he absolutely stands up and crunches the “star” forward on the hated Blackhawks.
This hit makes the list because about 99% of viewers probably yelled in exclamation after seeing this hit; and even now die-hard Canuck fans probably yell “F*ck Off” when they see Edler completing boshing Kane along the boards. After losing two years straight in the playoffs, every fan wanted to see the Nucks take out their frustration in a physical manner, and this hit definitely helped.

#6 – Dan Hamhuis on Marcus Kruger
Hamhuis is known for his hip checks, but here he lets his shoulder do the talking. Hamhuis gets a solid run up, and like Edler’s hit on Doughty, Hamhuis puts the full force of his body into Kruger, and Kruger has nowhere to go but the boards. This is why the playoffs are so great.
This hit makes the list because Kruger looks like an absolute rag doll during the hit. Hamhuis lays the “huge hit,” and Kruger’s body contorts and shrivels into an unnatural ball shape, then smashes into the boards. One of the most underrated hits, but one of my favourites!


#5 – Aaron Rome on Nathan Horton
I’ll probably get some flack for including this one on the list (and also placing it so high up), but no matter what, this hit is BIG! Horton makes a pass and keeps his eyes on the puck, not where he is going. Just as the puck comes of his stick Rome is lining Horton up, there is still a huge gap, but Rome is committed to the hit and he lays his shoulder square into Horton.
This hit makes the list because of what was at stake: the Stanley Cup. This was the Finals, where everything is worth so much more. A pass, a goal, a hit means so much more in the Finals. The Canucks are coming into one of the rowdiest arenas in the NHL; against arguably the most physical team in the NHL. What do you need to do to silence the crowd and get your team going? Either score a goal or make a huge hit. No goals had come, so the answer is the ladder. It may have been late (arguable), but Rome made the hit count, and, man there is no denying, it was BIG! Keep your head up kids.

#4 – Raffi Torres on Brent Seabrook
Yes, another “questionable” hit makes the top 5, but I don’t believe this one is questionable at all. What is the first thing they tell you when learning to hit in hockey? Keep. Your. Head. Up! What does Seabrook do, watches the puck come around the boards, not paying attention to what is going on around him. Also, look where the puck is when Torres makes contact, in Seabrook’s feet. Textbook hit, no ifs, ands, or buts!
This hit makes the list because Torres lays the body on a player who isn’t playing smart hockey. It goes to show you have to always have your head up in the NHL. Also, Jim Hughson’s reaction is pretty priceless too.

#3 – Ballard and Hamhuis on San Jose
I couldn’t choose between the two, so I chose both. The first is Hamhuis throwing a hip check right into the midsection of Douglas Murray, causing him to go for a carnival ride. The second is Ballard thinking one step ahead of Jamie McGinn, sending him flying head over heels…literally.
These hits make the list simply because they exemplify a perfect hip check, and make the other players go head over heels. The hip check flip is a rare commodity in the NHL, but when a player busts it out oh-boy does the crowd ever love it; and so do we. And again, the announcers’ reactions aren’t too bad either. Always nice to hear them getting excited about a hit!
Hamhuis

Ballard

#2 – Trevor Linden on Jeff Norton
This is the only hit that is not from the 21st Century. 1994 Playoffs, Vancouver vs. St. Louis, Trevor Linden gives Vancouver (and arguably the NHL) one of its most classic hits when he commits to the man in the Blues defensive zone, and absolutely annihilates Jeff Horton.
This hit is on the list because the crowd absolutely loved it, and not only does the glass shatter in spectacular fashion (even Don Cherry says he has never seen the glass shatter like that), but Linden smashes his man through the glass with such force that he continues the hit and drives Norton over the boards into the spectators. A one of a kind hit that will be near impossible to replicate in today’s NHL.

#1 – Willie Mitchell on Jonathan Toews
The number one hit is by far the biggest, but it is also the cleanest. The Hawks breakout of their zone, and, with his head facing the pass (and not where he is going), Toews accepts the pass at centre ice. Meanwhile, Mitchell is let out of the box and times everything so perfectly that this hit is almost like magic.
This hit is the number one biggest Canucks hit because, well, it is f*cking huge. It is against the hated Blackhawks, it is on the captain (one of the best NHL players of today), and the guy gets Bambi legs afterwards. But, what amplifies this hit, and sets it apart from the rest, is that it’s an open ice hit. In today’s NHL, the players are too fast and too smart to be caught with their head down at centre ice. But, Toews keeps his eyes on the pass for a second too long, and Mitchell makes him pay…BIG TIME (the crowd and the announcer agree)!
Ow.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Canucks Free Agency Preview

Ready for some #boldmoves?

 With free agency only one sleep away, I figured a preview of the spending frenzy for the Canucks and their fans is long overdue; at least one from this blog. 

 While the Canucks salary cap situation isn't nearly as bad it's made out to be, it's one of the less enviable ones in the league. They currently have somewhere in the neighbourhood of $7.5M in wiggle room against the cap, but unfortunately not all of that can be thrown at free agents. Vancouver still has to sign RFA's like Jordan Schroeder and Chris Tanev, among others, and that's likely to eat up about half of their available funds.

Basically, this is not the year to skip work and watch TSN's coverage of free agency. Certainly not if you're expecting the Canucks to make any #boldmoves.

Needs vs. Wants

Before going too in depth and singling out players that could be on the Canucks radar, the needs and wants of this franchise have to be taken into account. Obvious, right? Still, worth looking into nonetheless. Sure, the Canucks wouldn't mind adding a high end free agent to help out with secondary scoring, but they need a third line center. 

Needs

For the vast majority of last season the Canucks lacked depth down the middle. It was painfully obvious. Ryan Kesler was either hurt or being asked to do far too much by the coaching staff. Kesler was being asked to do too much because the Canucks lacked that shutdown presence anchoring the third line. That presence has been sorely lacking from the Canucks roster since Malhotra took that puck to the eye late in the 2011 regular season.

Another piece missing from the 2012-13 roster was a right handed defenseman. Hell, at times it looked like they needed another three. The addition of Frankie Corrado helps, but they could probably use another right handed shot on defense. At least in a depth role.

Wants

The Canucks lacked offensive punch in general, but especially in their bottom six. They lack the cap space to properly address this issue and even if they had the space, they don't have the openings on the wing. More size and grit on the fourth line would also be nice.

Targets


Mikhail Grabovski, Center: Randy Carlyle is an idiot. As such, he misused Grabovski for the better part of last season and has now convinced Dave Nonis that Tyler Bozak is more valuable to the Leafs. As of this morning they have put Grabovski on waivers for the purpose of a buyout. Assuming he clears, that will make him a free agent. One the Canucks should pursue, and then some. Grabovski would be an amazing third line center and solid fill in for Kesler if/when he gets injured.

2012-13 Stats: 48GP, 9G 7A 16PTS, -10
Fit: 5/5
Hypothetical Value: 3.5/5



Jarome Iginla, RW: Nothing against Iginla, but it's more than a little unrealistic to expect him to sign with the Canucks. That being said, I heard this morning that Vancouver is on his short list of teams he would like to sign with. If he's willing to come to Vancouver for well below market value, then sure, find a way to make it work. Otherwise, no and thanks.

2012-13 Stats: 44GP, 14G 19A 33PTS, -5
Fit: 2.5/5
Hypothetical Value: 1/5


Nik Antropov, Center: Hear me out on this one. Sure, Antropov is coming off of one of his more forgettable seasons, but it was a weird year. Right, Mike Gillis? Anyways, his coming off a bad year actually works in the Canucks favour. This last season has probably significantly dropped Antropov's price tag, which is a good thing. Also, he has great size and would be a solid fit on the Canucks third line. He wouldn't look all that out of place on the second either, assuming Kesler were to get hurt. 

2012-13 Stats: 40GP, 6G 12A 18PTS, +6


Boyd Gordon, Center: Back down to earth with this option; in the sense that not only can the Canucks afford him, but he's probably high on their list of free agents they'd like to pursue. Gordon is a great shutdown center and would provide a 2011 Malhotra-esque presence on the third line.

2012-13 Stats: 48GP, 4G 10A 14PTS
Fit: 4/5
Hypothetical Value: 4/5

J.D. Burke: @WeveGotTwinsCanuc


Tuesday, 25 June 2013

John Tortorella's Introductory Press Conference; Reaction, Analysis

Get used to a lot more of this. Different jerseys though, of course.

 The Canucks have formally, and finally, introduced John Tortorella as the new head coach of their hockey club. The hiring of Tortorella comes little over a month after the club parted ways with Alain Vigneault. Speaking of those two, isn't it just a little ironic that they've traded spaces now, with Vigneault taking Tortorella's gig in New York with the Rangers.

Before Tortorella was unleashed on the media, he was treated to series of questions from fans, season ticket holders, etc. by John Shorthouse on a live YouTube stream. The questions were of the easy variety, and were more or less the warm-up for the real thing, by my reckoning. For his part, Tortorella was amiable, charming and maybe even a little sedated; if you couldn't see the words coming out of his mouth, you'd hardly believe it was Torts talking.


Little over an hour after his Q&A session, Tortorella got the media treatment. The questions weren't nearly as soft as the ones he faced in the Q&A session, but his responses were equally good.


There's no shortage of food for thought, but below I've highlighted the five most delectable items coming out of his presser.

 1. The Sedins Will Kill Penalties: The Sedins have wanted to kill penalties for years, and now they will get their chance. Tortorella was asked if the Sedins would be blocking shots under his regime and responded with "I'll tell you right now, they're going to kill penalties, and they're going to block shots. If you're going to play proper defense that has to be part of their equation... I think they'll welcome it, because they want to get better, they want to win a championship".

 2. So, About the Style: When Tortorella was asked what sort of style he would employ with the Canucks he gave one of the more insightful non-answers one could ever have asked for. It's a valid question, and I'm glad somebody brought it up. During his time in Tampa Bay his teams were more offensive than the squads he coached in New York, where he turned the Rangers into a shot-blocking, collapsing defensive team. Which version of Torts will the Canucks get? Well, here's Tortorella's answer: "I don't think there's a coach in this league that doesn't want more offense of its club, but that should not short circuit defense. You will not win championships unless you play defense, and there has to be a concept there".

 3. On Youth, and How it Will Be Served: During the Canucks presser at season`s end, Gillis stated that he wants this club to get younger, among other things. When speaking about his time in New York, Tortorella felt they changed from "a free-agent haven, to building a team with our young kids" and expressed his desire to do the same with this club. While the Canucks don't have any Derek Stepans or Ryan MacDonagh's in their system, this leaves me cautiously optimistic about what he can accomplish with Zack Kassian and Frankie Corrado.

 4. Less Bark, More Bite? By the sounds of it, that's what Tortorella plans on infusing into this club. He feels that the Canucks "need[s] some more bite" and added "I think the attitude of, just being a stiffer team, is going to come to the forefront as we build this". Sounds good to me. Time for the Canucks to back up their all-world smack talk (I'm looking at you, Kesler and Burrows) according to Torts. I'm sure he'd rather the smack talking was altogether dropped, but more importantly he wants the Canucks to be harder to play against.

 5. Leave it to Cam... In case you didn't hear him introduce himself, Cam Charron of Canucks Army and many other other news and blogging outlets - notably Sporting News for this presser - just had to bring up fancy stats. Not directly, but he did ask Tortorella if he plans to bring his use of zone deployments to Vancouver and whether he's heard of BehindTheNet.ca. While Tortorella hasn't heard of BehindTheNet, he does plan on "putting players in situations where they can succeed", so yeah, I guess that entails advanced zone deployment schemes.

Also... Tortorella is on Twitter as @JohnTortorella2 and he really, really likes dogs.


J.D Burke @WeveGotTwins 

Monday, 24 June 2013

Why John Tortorella is the Right Guy for the Job

Vancouver media, you have my sympathies.
So, with the need to fill head coaching positions the Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers appear to be pulling off the ol' coaching swap. Vigneault is signed, sealed and delivered in New York, and Tortorella has had two interviews with Vancouver, and it seems like only a matter of time before they officially give Torts the job. As a matter of fact, the news could come as soon as noon Tuesday. With so much buzz in the air over Torts and the Canucks, I thought I would outline (for the Tortorella haters out there) a few reasons why the loud mouthed, bearded, John Tortorella would be a great fit in Vancouver. 
Tortorrella by the numbers:
854-410-330 record all-time as head coach
-          8 Playoff Appearances
-          1 Jack Adams Award
-          1 Stanley Cup
1.      Playoff Payoff: Tortorella has made the playoffs 8 out 13 seasons, and in the past two years he has lead NY past the second round both times, including an Eastern Conference appearance last year. Some people may say “making it to the second round, so what?” Well, if the Canucks made it to the second round this year, I guarantee we would not be having this conversation. Torts may be a hot head (that’s to come) but he knows hockey, he knows hockey players, and he knows what it takes to get a team to the playoffs… and beyond. Perhaps a change from Vigneault’s defensive minded approach is just what this team needs to overcome the first round hump.

2.      Loud Mouth Soup: John Tortorella is loud, fiery, and intense, but you know what (ya I’m gunna say it) I like his off-ice banter, and his intensity. With his “wise” choice of words and eloquent vocabulary, perhaps Tortorella is the man who can come around and give this team the swift kick in the behind that it needs to wake up and play like the team that was one win away from a Stanley Cup. Also, with Torts yapping at the media, refs, and opposing players and coaches maybe he will finally be able to get the Sedin’s the respect that they deserve in this league. No more five straight punches to the face without a penalty, no more blatant elbows that only get a five-game suspension, no more treating the Sedins like fourth line plugs. The Sedin’s are elite NHL players, and you know that if the Sedins are under Torts watchful eye, he won’t let anything happen to them without an earful. And maybe with all his wonderful chit-chat he will finally be able deflect this now annoyingly microscopic and constant focus on the “goalie situation” in Vancouver.


3.      Silver Chalice: Four simple words: He Has A Cup. With all the coaching prospects out there, Torts is one of very few that actually has a Stanley Cup. Yes, there are younger, less verbally annoying coaches out there, but there is just something to be said about a man who has actually lifted the legendary silver cup. He knows what it takes to go all the way and immerge victorious. The Canucks are looking to be the best team in the NHL, and to be the best team in the NHL you have to win the Cup. Torts has the experience, he has the intensity, he has the knowledge, and with the players on the Canucks at his disposal, Tortorella may just be the man to help Vancouver go for another epic cup run.
R. Langill
You can follow Ross Langill on Twitter @RLangill

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Who You Need to Know; Potential Canucks Coach Edition

Pick wisely, ye sleepless Gillis.

 They weren't overly hasty in doing so, but as of a week ago the Canucks have relieved Alain Vigneault and his assistants of their duties. If you - much like the rest of Vancouver - aren't accustomed to handling or viewing anything Canuck related with tact or class, that was the nice way of saying they got fired. I think.

 Much like they kept us waiting for the decision on Vigneault, the Canucks aren't exactly in a rush to pick his replacement. To this point they've asked the Leafs for permission to speak to Dallas Eakinsspoken to Glen Gulutzan and paid lip service to the thought of choosing Scott Arniel. Other than that, there's been an awful lot of ambiguity to this whole ordeal, which comes as no surprise to anyone who knows anything about Mike Gillis.

 Since Gillis won't give up any names, other than Arniel, this is where the Canucks blogger community steps in and does so for him. I've got ten of them as a matter of fact, and you'd better believe they're all worth knowing if you want to stay up-to-date in Gillis' first hire at head coach.

1. Dallas Eakins: For the last two or so years Eakins name has been mentioned for nearly every coaching vacancy available, most recently with the same organization that currently employs him, the Toronto Maple Leafs. While Eakins has a limited amount of experience in the NHL (only two years as an assistant for the Leafs between 2006-08), his AHL experience is nearly good enough to make this blogger quickly forget about that. In Eakins four seasons as the head coach of the Toronto Marlies he's compiled a record of 157-114-41 record in 312 games and guided them to the Calder Cup Finals only one year ago. While Eakins style of coaching bares similarities to that of Alain Vigneault in the sense that he deploys a defense first system, that's more or less all they have in common. Eakins is six years younger than AV, has an excellent track record of developing prospects and believes in a relentless forecheck as part of his offensive structure. Another thing Eakins has going for him is his reputation as a player's coach, something Vigneault most certainly was not.

2. John Stevens: Think of John Stevens as a more experienced Eakins, sort of. Stevens has built a reputation as a soft-spoken, but respected coach with a knack for developing defensive talent. It's hard to get a grip on where exactly his style of coaching lies in terms of his demeanor, but this is based solely on the two different roles he's been placed in during his time in the NHL - or I think so, anyways. In his time as the Flyers head coach Stevens wasn't the kind of coach to crack the whip or go Tortorella on his team, but he commanded the player's respect nonetheless. In Los Angeles Stevens has taken on the role of being a player's coach. If the Canucks do hire Stevens, sound this as the end of any Edler trade speculation, as fixing Edler's game will be priority number one. Stevens track record of developing young defensemen (Jake Muzzin, Slava Voynov and Drew Doughty come to mind) might give him an inside track on the job, especially with both Frank Corrado and Chris Tanev as very-likely members of the top six next season.

3. Glen Gulutzan: Consider Gulutzan a long-shot, but don't count him out entirely. For starters, he meets the prerequisite of having both AHL and NHL experience. Sure, the NHL experience didn't last all that long and didn't go very well either, but he does have some. According to Defending Big D, Gulutzan preaches a defensive style similar to that of Dave Tippett; they also went on to say his style is relatively malleable, and changes based on the personnel he's dealt. It is also worth noting that Gulutzan is more than ten years younger than Vigneault, which almost certainly means he's young enough for the job; youth is something Gillis has said he is looking for in his new coach.

4. Scott Arniel: I, like everyone else, assumes that Gillis suggested Arniel as a candidate for the job as merely paying lip service out of respect. It would be quite the slap in the face, of course, if he didn't even consider Arniel - he is currently coaching the Canucks AHL affiliate. One thing that sticks out with regards to Arniel, is the fact that one of the most frequently heard critiques about him is that he focuses far too much on winning and not enough on player development. If the Canucks are looking to get younger, this might not be the right guy for the job. While Arniel does have some experience in the NHL, it wasn't even for two seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets and it went horribly.

5. Dave Tippett: With the Coyotes recently signing GM Don Maloney to an extension, and there finally being a shred of certainty to their future in the desert, I expect Tippett will soon follow suit. That would, of course, make him unavailable for the Canucks. If he is available however, Tippett is definitely worth looking into. Like Vigneault and nearly all the coaches looking to replace him, Tippett employs a defensively sound style of hockey and relies heavily upon his veterans. The Coyotes have over-achieved at an absurdly high level under Tippett, and it makes me wonder what he would be capable of with an even remotely talented roster - I mean no offense, Boyd Gordon.

6. Guy Boucher: Canucks fans who are looking for this team to go back to it's offensively dominant ways are collectively shuddering at the thought of Guy Boucher as coach, but should they be? Daniel Wagner of Pass it to Bulis raises some excellent points in his most recent podcast regarding Boucher's style, and they were enough to convince me. For starters, his famed stalemate with Philadelphia does little justice to what Boucher has coached. He has no intention of sitting back the entire game in a 1-3-1 in the hopes of winning by a score of 1-0. What Boucher is doing is forcing the Flyers to play to his system and they are dumbfounded. Rather than risking a turnover, which is what Boucher IS hoping for, they sit back and wait patiently. When Boucher's teams have the puck they forecheck relentlessly and are actually a relatively high-octane offense. Boucher didn't receive much, if any, help from Yzerman and has been made to look bad in the process. Besides, who doesn't want a Bond villain coaching their team? Think Vigneault was too soft? The players will receive no such courtesy with Boucher.

7. Lindy Ruff: Of all the names on this list, count his as the least likely to coach the Canucks next season. Sure, he may have had 2/1 odds of becoming the next coach on one gambling website, but I don't think they're as up to date as a betting website should be. According to Jason Botchford of The Province the Canucks haven't even so much as considered Lindy Ruff for the job. This makes sense, what with his being Vigneault light and all. Speaking to Josiah LeRoy of The Gerbe Derby about Ruff, he said that 'rookies struggle in Ruff's system' and that he relies heavily upon 'good goaltending and sound defensive structure'. Sound familiar?

8. Larry Robinson: Robinson is an unlikely-candidate, but not for a lack of solid credentials -all reports indicate he's content as an assistant. If Robinson is open to returning to the role of head coach, he would garner considerable attention from the Canucks. They will have to wait for his Sharks to either win the Cup or be eliminated to get to him, but if there's anything I've learned about the Canucks it's that they aren't the fastest of decision makers anyways. Over the span of his career as a coach Robinson has focused primarily on the defensive side of things. In San Jose for example, he was hired to shore up their penalty kill and coach the defense. And what a wonderful job he's done. It's also worth noting that his name has been engraved on the Stanley Cup nine times, so the guy has a pretty good grip on what it takes to win the big one.

9. Andy Murray: He's not getting mentioned nearly as much as he should be, and here's why. Murray, unlike a lot of the aforementioned coaches, is a little more offensively minded. This is, if anything, highlighted by his failures in St.Louis. Murray wasn't exactly overwhelmed with offensive firepower, yet his team's always managed to find a way to put the puck in the net. More importantly, the offensive production was very evenly dispersed. What they couldn't do, was keep pucks out of their net. With a much more mobile defense corps and vastly better goaltending, his style just might mesh very well with the Canucks roster. It's also worth noting that he is a very intelligent coach, and his teams are always excruciatingly well prepared.

10. *John Tortorella: This one comes with a caveat. First of all, he has to be fired by the New York Rangers before garnering any consideration for the Canucks job. Second of all, god help us if he comes to Vancouver. Yes, the locker room gotten a bit stale, but I'm not sure bringing in a salivating dog of a coach will do much to change that. Sure, press conferences would be a little more interesting, but I'd rather the Canucks won hockey games. Seriously, please no Torts.

J.D. Burke @WeveGotTwins

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Mike Gillis Relieves Coaching Staff; Excited About the Future

In the nicest way possible.

General Manager Mike Gillis announced the firing of Canucks head coach, Alain Vigneault Wednesday. After the news broke, Gillis opened his press conference stating, “after a thorough review of the past couple of seasons, we've come to the decision that we're relieving Alain Vigneault of head coaching duties” (x). Gillis was quick to personally thank Vigneault and his assistant coaches for their dedication to the Canucks over the years. While the team failed to win a Cup with AV, his hard work is reflected in the Canucks having accumulated 6 North-West division titles, 2 President's trophies, and a Western Conference championship, in his 7 seasons as head coach.

Despite how you may feel about Vigneault personally, it's hard to overlook all that he's accomplished while in Vancouver. His unconventional and unpredictable coaching style is what helped him become the Canucks' most winningest coach in franchise history, and brought him within one win of claiming hockey's greatest prize. Unfortunately for Vigneault, the Canucks' 2011 run to the Cup final wasn't enough for him to keep his job, because in this case, almost doesn't count.

In his presser, Gillis specifically noted that the past two playoffs were extremely dissappointing, having been eliminated in the first round both years, despite being the higher seeded team. Gillis put it bluntly, “we simply didn't get the results that we expected and in this business, you have to get results” (x), so he now looks to the find someone who can actually deliver, a decision he will take his time making. He explains, “there's a number of good candidates out there. We're gonna speak to them, and we'll go through a process” (x).

There's no question that with Vigneault gone, Gillis will be under the microscope more than usual, with people eagerly wanting to know who will now rally the Canucks in their quest for a Stanley Cup. Fortunately, he is not one to be rattled by outsiders. When asked by the media Wednesday, who he is looking to replace Vigneault, Gillis nonchalantly replied, “actually, I was gonna pull someone out of this room and hire them, offer them the job right now” (x). He followed his sly remark by saying he didn't have a time frame for when he'd hire a new coach, but assured that he would take his time in selecting the right candidate for the job. Gillis' no nonsense attitude gives the impression that he doesn't take the state of the Canucks lightly, and is not going to make decisions in haste, despite pressure from the media. He explains, “this is a market where expectations are extremely high, and you have to meet them” (x) no matter what changes may be required.

While changes are to be expected within the organization, Gillis feels that the team is not in need of a drastic overhaul: “We have a really good core group of players. Solid players. Solid people. And we need to surround them with some younger, skilled players that can contribute” (x). He went on to note that he's excited for the future of the Canucks, and “looking forward to the next chapter of this organization” (x). So is all of Vancouver Mike. Let's hope that the next chapter includes some post-season scoring, whoever the Canucks coach may be.



Mandy @ForeverCanuck @WeveGotTwins



Monday, 20 May 2013

J.D.'s Take on Alain Vigneault's Future

It's OK to cry AV. I just might drop a tear or two for you, should you be fired.

When the Canucks lost in the first round of last year’s playoffs to the eventual Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings, Alain Vigneault’s job security was thrown into question - not, by yours truly of course. It was a short-lived period of uncertainty though, as the Canucks extended Mike Gillis with a new five year contract and wouldn’t you know it, Gillis paid the contract love forward to Vigneault with a two year extension of his own.

New contract, new season, somewhat new-ish team and similar, if not worse, results for Vigneault and the Canucks. Now Vigneault’s future with the club is in as much doubt as it’s ever been and you better believe that it’s super serial this time.

Speaking at a press conference following the Canucks embarrassing 4-0 series loss to the San Jose Sharks, Gillis said that Vigneault, much like himself, will be “evaluated”. He added that it was too early to make decisions and that he would take his time with this decision. If you haven’t gotten the memo yet, Gillis is not one for decisions based on emotions, and he couldn’t have that made more clear in outlining his plan regarding the coaching staff.

Here we are, almost two weeks later, and Alain Vigneault’s yet to be fired and by that same token, yet to have a real vote of confidence as the coach of this club going into next season. Oh, the ambiguity.

If there are any positives to be found in the Canucks taking their time with this decisions, one of them has to be that I myself, have had the time to ponder the coaching question sans emotions. And ponder I have.

While Alain Vigneault is probably the best coach in this club’s history, and also the winningest, it is time for him to go. Despite Vigneault being a huge part of the most successful stretch of hockey in Canucks history - and what a glorious seven years it has been - this stretch is now starting to trend downwards, and fast. At this point it’s not a matter of finding a better coach, because there will be no better coach than Vigneault on the market if he is fired, it’s about doing something different.

With Vigneault, the Canucks have a defensive coach whose intellect separates him from the vast majority of his peers. The defensive acumen of AV was put on full display this season as the Canucks somehow found a way to win the Northwest division playing without a second or third line center for the majority of the season. Not enough credit has been sent his way for accomplishing this.
The playoffs, however, were a different story. While I don’t buy into the “I want my coach to scream at millionaire athletes as a means of lighting a fire under them” or “it’s Vigneault’s responsibility to motivate millionaires to perform their job to the best of their ability” methodology of coaching many in this fanbase equate with coaching ability, I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a hockey club as disinterested as the Canucks were. This culminated in a four game sweep.

It wasn’t just an apparent lack of motivation or interest that cost this team their season. Vigneault, and his coaching staff, made some very questionable decisions. None of which paid off. Where to start... There was the unnecessary and disastrous change of goaltenders going into game three. While Cory Schneider was nursing a groin injury, Roberto Luongo started the first two games. Yes, both of them were losses, but try telling me with a straight face that Luongo wasn’t the best player on the ice for either team in those two games. Unfortunately for the Canucks and Luongo, that wasn’t enough to keep Cory out of the crease in games three and four. There’s also the year long head scratcher of keeping Jason Garrison - who was kind of signed for the powerplay - off the first unit of the Canucks powerplay. Think that’s stupid? How about the fact that Daniel Sedin saw more time on the point of the first unit than Garrison.  Yes, I’m well aware of the fact that Newell Brown is man who runs the powerplay, but it’s still Vigneault’s house. For something so obviously wrong to carry on for as long that it did is bordering on inexcusable. There’s trusting your assistants, then there’s turning a blind eye to clearly detrimental decisions made by them. While we’re on the topic somebody, for the love of god, try and explain why Rick Bowness and Vigneault have had Hamhuis and Bieksa separated for the better part of the last two years, after establishing themselves as one of the best shutdown pairings in the league in 2011. Anymore eyebrow raising decisions and I fear mine will be permanently stuck there - I’m a head scratcher away from going bald.

Whether you like AV or not, it’s starting to become all too clear his time in Vancouver should be nearing an end. No matter what the situation, this club has heard what he has to say. Time and time again, this club has been through nearly every situation imaginable in Vigneault’s seven years. It’s starting to feel like it falls upon more deaf ears by the season.

If Vigneault’s time here is at an end, and I think it probably is, what has to be kept in perspective is that this has little if anything to do with his ability as a coach. In Vigneault’s seven years as the coach of this club the Canucks have failed to make the playoffs but once. In two of these season’s the Canucks won the Presidents’ Trophy and in one of those Presidents’ Trophy winning seasons they came within one win of the Stanley Cup. In only his first season as the Canucks head coach he won the Jack Adams Award, and in 2011 he was a finalist. In his 540 games with the club he has a 313-170-57 record. Even his most ardent critics can’t overlook a resume this good, even if it’s Alain Vigneault’s.

J.D. @WeveGotTwins