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Could Alain Vigneault become the next coach of the Canadiens?

May 2, 2012, 3:13 PM EST

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Now that Marc Bergevin’s been named the new general manager of the Canadiens, the next big question in Montreal is, who will he choose to coach? Because it won’t be Randy Cunneyworth.

Bergevin says that decision will be made “sooner than later.” And with no word out of Vancouver regarding Alain Vigneault’s future, it’s easy to understand the speculation that the coach of the Canucks could be back behind the bench of the Habs.

Yes, back behind the bench, for those who may have forgotten that Vigneault’s first head-coaching job was with the Canadiens, hired prior to the 1997-98 season and fired after 20 games of the 2000-01 campaign.

While Vigneault only led the Habs to the playoffs once, he really didn’t have much to work with. In fact, he was nominated for coach of the year in 2000 after salvaging a 35-34-9-4 record despite his team being decimated by injuries.

In Vancouver, Vigneault’s made the playoffs in five of his six seasons as coach and took the Canucks to Game 7 of the 2001 Stanley Cup final. In his first season with the club, 2006-07, he won the Jack Adams Award. He was also a finalist for coach of the year in 2010 and 2011.

Oh, and he speaks French.

Of course, should Bergevin feel Vigneault’s the right man for the job, Vigneault would have to leave the Canucks first.

What are the chances of that?

From The Province, the case to fire Vigneault:

As much as Vigneault nearly directed the franchise to its first league championship and has a year remaining on his contract, he has also missed the post-season and been ousted on three occasions in the second round. Against the Los Angeles Kings, the Canucks talked of how the experience of enduring a playoff marathon was going to benefit another long run this spring, how they were tailored to play any kind of game and would be just as happy to win 1-0. But they were never really ready and dropped the first two games on home ice. Players are paid handsomely to be prepared but it’s the coach’s mandate to ensure they are. The season-ending 2-1 overtime loss in Game 5 left the disturbing impression that outside of a failed Mason Raymond wraparound attempt in the extra session, the Canucks were trying not to lose the game rather than pressing to win it.

From the Vancouver Sun, the case to keep him:

If the Canucks can get better by firing easily the best coach they’ve had, by all means pass the blindfold and cigarettes. But unless the Detroit Red Wings are going to punt Mike Babcock – and why wouldn’t they because they lost in the first round, too? – it’s hard to imagine any of the small handful of coaches in Vigneault’s class being available as a potential upgrade.

Ultimately the decision may be Vigneault’s to make. Canucks GM Mike Gillis has voiced his support for the coach, and there’s even talk Gillis could quit if ownership forces him to fire Vigneault.

That said, it’s not preposterous to wonder if Vigneault would prefer coaching in Montreal over Vancouver. After all, it’s not every year the Habs job becomes available.

OK, lately it has, but you get my point.

  1. govtminion - May 2, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    Not meaning this as a troll or anything- honest question. Why would Vigneault willingly leave a team that competed last year for the Cup and has two consecutive President’s Trophies, along with a good setup for the future (after they resolve the goaltending drama)… to coach a team that, let’s be honest, isn’t exactly in as good of some shape to win anything for at least another few years?

    If he got fired, that would be one thing, but I’d be pretty floored if he walked away from Vancouver for this.

    • Jason Brough - May 2, 2012 at 3:29 PM

      He might not want to leave Vancouver. But he’s only got a year left on his contract. If the Canucks don’t give him an extension and the Habs are willing to give him, say, three years, that could impact his decision.

      • govtminion - May 2, 2012 at 3:41 PM

        Interesting point. Do you think honestly that the Canucks are at a point where they wouldn’t give him an extension though, with the past few years’ successes in mind?

        Honestly asking, you probably have a better feel for the pulse of the Canucks than I do.

      • Jason Brough - May 2, 2012 at 3:53 PM

        I honestly have no idea. And at this point, the Canucks might not either.

      • govtminion - May 2, 2012 at 4:33 PM

        Fair enough. It will be interesting to see what comes of this. Good call on the speculation.

  2. cowboys282 - May 2, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    That would be great. Even though the Canadians are already one of the softest teams in the NHL this would crown them the softest team in the NHL.

    • elvispocomo - May 2, 2012 at 4:03 PM

      And how does that work? Is the coach going to suit up and play and make them more soft as he tries to avoid elbows to the head? Oh, I see, you’re clearly trying to say its his style of coaching that makes teams soft…

  3. pepper2011 - May 2, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    If he does go; he won’t have to spend much time teaching them the art of the Dive. PK must be his dream come true

    • habsman - May 2, 2012 at 7:23 PM

      Nobody dive more than Marchand. Fact.

      • pepper2011 - May 3, 2012 at 12:42 PM

        really? not so much a fact. at all. not happy with his performance in the playoffs, but it’s not something he usually does. I bet if you polled hockey fans; not from montreal the top 5 list would look like this:
        1)subban
        2)kesler
        3)Lapierre
        4)Burrows
        5)sedin’s
        6-25) the rest of the canadiens.

        should I post the Subban back?

      • habsman - May 3, 2012 at 5:48 PM

        peeper,

        Nice list. But come on, after the diving display in these past playoffs, Marchand is hands down the biggest diver in the league. Sorry, no amount of “spin” is going to change that. There are a few more on your team who drop pretty easily.
        Now why don’t you and your pals get back to sewing sheets together.

  4. bloggersarenotjournalists - May 2, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    What is (should be) important for the Habs is hiring a coach that is obviously going to stay before any player. Someone the front office can honestly say “we’re 100% behind this guy and you better believe it”.

    AV qualifies

  5. hsnepts - May 2, 2012 at 5:26 PM

    Getting a team to the top is hard for a GM. Keeping a team at the top is even harder.

    There are very few examples in the cap era of a team staying competitive for an extended stretch of time.

    I dont know how Gillis intends to keep this team competitive. But for me, trading away your Calder-potential rookie for toughness and starting a revolving door of coaches seems like a one way ticket to mediocrity.

  6. warrenlevine - May 2, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    Interesting. I know it seems like a long time ago, but the Canucks only forced a Game 7 before choking LAST year, not 2001. In 2001, they didn’t suck enough. And tickets were reasonable.

    In Vancouver, Vigneault’s made the playoffs in five of his six seasons as coach and took the Canucks to Game 7 of the 2001 Stanley Cup final.

  7. ray2013 - May 2, 2012 at 10:24 PM

    The media has already let him go; even though he took the team to game 7 of the finals, I’ve read numerous stories that if they didn’t win, AV had to go.

    If he did go, I think the Canucks should hire Brian Sutter as their next coach, but only if they play in one of those winter classic games and we get to watch Sutter deal with his flopping and diving players.

  8. lordstanley65 - May 2, 2012 at 10:42 PM

    That’s the most intelligent take you can add here,Habs? This is the future of your team being discussed here. This is why you can’t be taken seriously.

  9. blomfeld - May 2, 2012 at 11:12 PM

    Okay PHT … it seems that you’ve censored my last comment for reasons unknown ? … so try this on for size …

    Vigneault’s heading to Montreal and then McTavish is coming here to replace him … ya dig ?

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