The Vancouver Canucks have hired Willie Desjardins as their 18th head coach in franchise history.
“Willie Desjardins has won at every level and we believe he’ll be an excellent fit as we strive to return to the playoffs and build with youth for long-term success,” said general manager Jim Benning in a release. “Willie is a great teacher, motivator and communicator; his teams have competed with a style of play we believe will help us compete in our division and in the playoffs. With Willie’s leadership behind the bench we look forward to bringing back this team’s winning qualities and our fans’ passion and excitement for the Canucks.”
The news comes as no surprise after it was reported last week that Desjardins, 57, had spurned the Pittsburgh Penguins’ advances.
Desjardins has never been a head coach in the NHL, but Benning made clear in May that that wasn’t a prerequisite for the job. The candidate, however, needed to have won at other levels, and Desjardins has certainly done that, most recently leading the AHL’s Texas Stars to a Calder Cup championship. He was also a very successful junior coach with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers.