It’s been two weeks since the Vancouver Canucks were swept out of the playoffs, and still no announcement has been made concerning the future of head coach Alain Vigneault.
Never one to rush things (see: trading Roberto Luongo), the only thing general manager Mike Gillis would say in his end-of-season press conference was that Vigneault would be part of a “thorough review” of every element of the organization.
Vigneault himself has yet to address the media.
The smart money is on a change behind the bench. Vigneault may be the winningest coach in Canucks history, and he may have taken Vancouver to Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cuy finals; however, two straight first-round playoff exits were, in the words of Gillis, “unacceptable.”
“This off-season will lead to difficult decisions including roster adjustments and changes in personnel,” wrote Gillis in a letter to season-ticket holders.
Assistant coaches Rick Bowness and Newell Brown are also considered on the hot seat.
For Vancouver Province columnist Ed Willes, the decision, one way or the other, is taking entirely too long.
It registers as needless dithering. Gillis and Vigneault have been together for five years. The head coach’s track record isn’t exactly a mystery. You could argue Scotty Bowman with Sir Alex Ferguson and Vince Lombardi as his assistants couldn’t have won with the 2013 Canucks, but that seems to be beside the point. If this team is going to reinvent itself, it needs a new face and a new voice.
If Vigneault is indeed fired, it will be interesting to see what he does next. The Dallas Stars have yet to hire a coach to replace Glen Gulutzan. But the only other current vacancy is in Colorado, and that may be filled very soon.
More interesting to Canucks fans, though, will be who replaces Vigneault, and what the team’s on-ice philosophy will be going forward. Gillis has made clear his belief that the game has changed in recent years. Speedy-and-skilled hockey, he believes, is out, while dump-and-chase-and-battle-in-the-corners is back in.
Many disagree with Gillis’s assessment. Or, at the very least, they think he’s overstating things.
But it’s Gillis that’s going to make the call.