Mar 20, 2012, 8:28 PM EST
The Northwest Division is virtually clinched for the Vancouver Canucks, but as we’ve seen with Roberto Luongo in particular, the market seems primed to turn on the team’s major figures whenever things aren’t running like a well-oiled machine.
On the heels of a listless 2-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild and a 5-6-2 mark in their last 13 games, it only makes sense – in a “Vancouver” sort of way, at least – that the cross-hairs are turning to Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault. Vancouver Province columnist Tony Gallagher thinks that the team needs a fresh approach.
Vigneault’s time with this team is surely drawing very near the end because management owes it to the group to give them another coach next year, so as to have a fresh approach before the Sedins get too old to even talk about getting something done five-on-five.
As it is now, talk of a Stanley Cup in this environment is delusional, and if you don’t believe us, just ask Jonathan Toews.
What’s going on now is so unlike the professionalism of last year’s team and you have to wonder what effect it’s having on Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani, who came over from Buffalo in the Cody Hodgson deal. Joining a team that was leading the ridiculously tough Western Conference, they probably thought they were going into a room whereby everyone did their utmost every night to make sure the team not only had a chance to win but dominated many games. They probably thought they were coached by somebody whose every word was carefully considered and perhaps even acted upon.
I’m going to play the devil’s advocate and say that the Canucks’ hopes for a run to the Stanley Cup are far from “delusional.” Here’s why:
- They still have a +41 goal differential which, to me, shows most simply that they remain one of the NHL’s best teams. (If their record wasn’t enough an indicator, that is.)
- The Canucks have the Sedin twins, Ryan Kesler and fantastic depth on offense. Their defense ranges from solid-to-very-good and they possess one of the league’s best goalie duos.
- Look at the West teams and you’ll see plenty of question marks.
- The St. Louis Blues have been great but obviously are the new kids on the block and thus remain unproven.
- The Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings carry deep flaws and dark bruises.
- There are some nice stories in the Pacific Division, but is there a single team that truly inspires fear?
If anything, the Canucks might be the logical frontrunners to represent the West in this year’s finals – unless you suffer from “What have you done for me lately?” syndrome, of course.
Vigneault’s many victories in Vancouver
Vigneault seems like the sort who doesn’t always butter up media types, but how exactly has his reign been disappointing? The Canucks are on the verge of a fifth division title in his sixth season of work, last year’s team was one of the most dominant regular season squads in recent memory and he’s a one-time Jack Adams Award winner (while being a finalist three times).
What more must he do? Does he need to scream like a madman and flip over Gatorade jugs to get the respect he supposedly doesn’t receive? Is it really Stanley Cup or bust for a franchise that’s never sipped from the chalice?
If you ask me, it’s a puzzling “grass is always greener” mentality, but what do you think? Should the Canucks really consider parting ways with perhaps the most successful coach they’ve ever had? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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