Vancouver Canucks' makeover continues with front office, assistant coaches

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In my opinion, the Vancouver Canucks should look at the 2009-10 season as a considerable success.

Yes, I know that the images that stick out in most hockey fans’ minds involve the team floundering against a clearly superior Chicago Blackhawks club. They certainly didn’t seem like they were “all there” and that probably strikes many as a sign of organizational (and roster) weakness. There is no denying the fact that their season ended on a sour note.

Yet, I’ll also point out that this team overachieved to win their division and earn some individual accolades. Let’s not forget that the Canucks faced a historic road trip, playing a staggering amount of games on the road before and after the Olympic Games. Instead of falling apart, the team banded together. Henrik Sedin won the Hart Trophy and a few other players made resounding breakthroughs in their respective games. In the big picture, the team has a lot to be proud of.

Still, it’s clear that the Canucks decided to make significant changes. The Vancouver Sun details some of the front office shuffling going on (the article expands on the higher-level moves), but the most important on-ice decisions will involve their coaching staff. Here is a little more information regarding who might back up head coach Alain Vigneault next season.

The changes come the same week the Canucks rebranded their arena, and the week after free agency allowed the hockey team to boost its lineup.

But the makeup of the coaching staff is an unresolved issue.

General manager Mike Gillis confirmed this week that former Anaheim Ducks’ assistant coach Newell Brown had been interviewed but did not specify for what position. The Sun has learned that Walter, hired two years ago, may not remain with the team.

Head coach Alain Vigneault’s assistants were offered contract extensions in April, but the Canucks’ failure to announce their hockey staff for next season led to speculation that changes were coming. The first one, three weeks ago, saw Dallas-based goaltending consultant Ian Clarke replaced by Rollie Melanson.

There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight

Connor McDavid
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Jack Eichel didn’t disappoint in the preseason, finishing with six points in four games, including two shorthanded goals.

Tonight in Buffalo, his NHL career will start for real when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators in regular-season action.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, stepping foot on that ice and making the NHL,” Eichel said, per “It’s kind of been a whirlwind, but you’re finally playing hockey for a living and everything you’ve done your whole life is to get to this point. It’s pretty special.”

The 18-year-old’s debut was front-page news this morning in Buffalo, where the Sabres have been among the NHL’s worst teams since last making the playoffs in 2010-11.

Eichel front page

Granted, even with the additions of Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, Robin Lehner and Cody Franson, expectations for 2015-16 remain modest for the new-look Sabres. Certainly, a spot in the playoffs would count as a surprise.

But for the fans of a team that’s barely possessed the puck the past couple of years, it’s night and day.

“People are excited,” GM Tim Murray said earlier this week. “It’s great. They think we’ve improved, and there’s a real positive vibe, I believe.

“That’s what I said to our coaches, ‘I want everybody to be positive. I’m the only guy in the organization allowed to be negative.’ That’s the way I wanted it. If I’m the most negative guy in the city about the team, that’s pretty good.”

Sutter: Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks

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Lost in the various controversies (see here and here) of last night’s game in Los Angeles was a pretty dismal performance by the Kings, a team that should’ve been especially motivated to start the season after missing the playoffs last year.

The Kings were hammered, 5-1, by the visiting Sharks. They were outshot, 32-20.

“If you don’t check, you don’t have the puck enough,” said Kings head coach Darryl Sutter. “If you don’t have the puck enough, you can’t score.”

“We were pretty sloppy. Sloppy on our rushes, sloppy in our D-zone,” said forward Dustin Brown. “That’s probably most of it, but the other part is compete – in the corners and making hard plays coming out of our zone, going in. We didn’t play very well.”

Obviously, much credit has to go to the Sharks. Like the Kings, they missed the playoffs last year and came into 2015-16 looking for redemption. But the Sharks haven’t won two Stanley Cups in the last four years, and they weren’t the home team.

“Gotta check,” said Sutter. “You don’t check, you can’t score. We had a lot of guys, especially top guys that weren’t interested in that part of the game.”

The Kings get a visit from the Arizona Coyotes on Friday. If they don’t dominate that team…