Alain Vigneault

Official: Canucks fire head coach Vigneault, assistants Bowness and Brown

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We asked yesterday about the fate of Alain Vigneault, and found out today — the Vancouver Canucks have dismissed Vigneault, along with assistants Rick Bowness and Newell Brown.

“Alain, Rick and Newell worked tirelessly to lead this team to great on-ice success,” Canucks GM Mike Gillis said in a statement. “I am personally grateful to each of them and their families for their commitment to the Canucks and the city of Vancouver and wish them continued success in future.”

TVA’s Louis Jean reports Gillis met with ownership before breaking the news to the three.

The move marks a massive changing of the guard in Vancouver, as nearly the entire coaching staff has been terminated. Jean reports both assistant coach (video) Daryl Williams and goaltending coach Roland Melanson “are safe for now,” and that it will be up to the new coaching staff to decide if they’re retained.

Vigneault was the 16th head coach in Canucks history and the most successful in franchise history.

Since taking over in June 2006, he led the Canucks to two Presidents’ Trophies, a Stanley Cup finals appearance, multiple Northwest Division titles and six postseason berths.

Vigneault may be the winningest coach in Canucks history — with 313 regular season victories — and he may have taken Vancouver to Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals; however, two straight first-round playoff exits were, in the words of Canucks GM Mike Gillis, “unacceptable.”

Should be noted that Vigneault has two years remaining on his current coaching contract, according to CBC’s Elliotte Friedman.

As for Vigneault’s assistants…

Bowness joined the team the same season as Vigneault — 2006-07 — and was primarily responsible for running the team’s defense.

Brown joined the team in 2010 after five seasons with the Anaheim Ducks. He was in charge of in Vancouver’s beleaguered power-play, one that finished 22nd in the NHL this year with a 15.9 percent success rate.

Another North Dakota junior goes pro as Blackhawks sign Luke Johnson

Quinnipiac forward Tommy Schutt, left, moves the puck as North Dakota forward Luke Johnson, middle, checks Quinnipiac forward Travis St. Denis during the first period of an NCAA college hockey tournament game Friday, March 27, 2015, in Fargo, N.D. North Dakota won 4-1. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)
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Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.

This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

In 43 games with the NCAA champions this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, three off his college career high set the previous year.

Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, bumping the number of players from that program’s junior class to turn pro to four since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.

Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.

Brock Boeser, a 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.

Video: Black cat hits the ice before Sharks-Predators Game 1

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Perhaps it’s an ominous sign of bad luck to come, but for which team?

Prior to puck drop between the host San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday, a black cat hit the ice at SAP Center, taking a nervous stroll along the boards.

Not sure exactly where it came from, although it’s possible someone was feeling extra superstitious before the start of this series.

Official update on the really important story of the evening:

Speed, skill help Stars score late victory to take series lead over Blues

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The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.

Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.

As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.

The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.

Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.

Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.

Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.

 

Video: Roussel opens the scoring for Dallas and Elliott wasn’t happy about it

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The Dallas Stars grabbed the all-important first goal in Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues on Friday. And it was agitating forward Antoine Roussel who capitalized in the second period.

Roussel buried a rebound at the end of a pretty passing play from the Stars. Blues goalie Brian Elliott was furious, as defenseman Jay Bouwmeester slid into the crease in an attempt to block the shot.