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Should Alain Vigneault’s days be numbered in Vancouver?

Mar 20, 2012, 8:28 PM EDT

Vancouver Canucks v Boston Bruins - Game Six Getty Images

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.

  1. kitshky - Mar 20, 2012 at 8:43 PM

    O Tony … calm down. It’s not Vigneault, its the team. The Canucks are in a late season funk like so many other teams. They’ve played a lot of hockey with one of the worst travel schedule in the league.

    Not to allow excuses for their play, and they better come out flyin Wed night … but to say “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”, is yet another example of why despite your credentials (and talent frankly) you’re so often thought of as a pun.

    (and the Canucks already showed Toews “what kind of team they really are” so we don’t need to be askin Capt Serious anything)

  2. danphipps01 - Mar 20, 2012 at 8:46 PM

    Welcome to Vancouver, where the journalists are as fair-weather as the fans. As soon as they’re not annihilating everyone in their path, half the team needs to be traded and the coach fired. It’s a truly depraved place to be. =/

  3. canucklehead3 - Mar 20, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    Part of the head coach’s job is to motivate his players and have them ready to play every night and the canucks have been flat lately, but unless the team’s troubles continue into the post-season and they flop in the first round he deserves to keep his job next year

  4. drewzducks - Mar 20, 2012 at 9:16 PM

    Gallagher, as was proven by Shawn Thornton, is nothing if not an ass clown. I can’t stand the Nucks but is this guy for real? The Bruins just went thru a lackluster, to be kind, stretch of over 20 games and we’re seeing other teams NYR and Detroit come back to earth a bit. As long as their goaltending is solid there’s no reason they shouldn’t make a run again. Though Nashville and of course Detroit will be waiting. Now if this column was about SJ and Todd McLellan than he may have a point as far as new coach with a new approach.

    • taytay099 - Mar 20, 2012 at 9:37 PM

      This isn’t the first time that Tony Gallagher has claimed AV’s days as head coach are numbered. When Mike Gillis took over there were many articles about how Gillis was going to clean house and get a whole new coaching staff.

      Then last season (or was it two seasons ago?) the Canucks had a horrible start to the season and they all claimed Bieksa and AV were toast.

  5. blomfeld - Mar 20, 2012 at 10:24 PM

    “……………………………………………”

    • danphipps01 - Mar 20, 2012 at 11:30 PM

      What, no ridiculous Kings victory speeches before they’ve even secured a playoff spot? It’s not like you to miss a chance to boast.

      • blomfeld - Mar 20, 2012 at 11:54 PM

        stand by friend …

      • blomfeld - Mar 21, 2012 at 1:48 AM

        Sieg !

  6. uscthom78 - Mar 20, 2012 at 11:58 PM

    When you don’t even give your team a chance to win, yeah, you deserve to be on the hot seat.

  7. bcisleman - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:09 AM

    Don’t know about AV, but can’t see the Nucks as frontrunners. Teams that go places in the SCP are usually the ones that are red hot down the stretch. Nucks seem dead. I am an Islander fan, but I live in Terrace which is Nucks country. Nobody has any confidence in them up here.

  8. islandersfan - Mar 21, 2012 at 2:54 AM

    Like bcisleman above I’m in the area and an islander fan so take this for what it’s worth but I’ve never considered the Nuckleheads to be a threat not because of this recent mediocrity but because a) Luongo b) (and more important to this conversation) as they are the only decent team in the weakest division in the league their regular season stats mean nothing. They should be running away with the president’s trophy given the lack of in division competition. Teams in any other division battle it out and drag each others points down (even as their quality of play goes up – see the central this year as an example of 4 good teams 1 bad team) But this years Nuckleheads can’t even do THAT right. Who thinks they’ll go past the second round of playoffs if they can’t even run away with the NW?

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