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Coach Vigneault feeling the heat in Vancouver

Mar 13, 2013, 12:27 PM EDT

Nashville Predators v Vancouver Canucks - Game One Getty Images

The Vancouver Canucks may have snapped a four-game losing streak last night in Columbus, but a 2-1 shootout win over the Blue Jackets wasn’t enough to stop the presses on a column by The Province’s Tony Gallagher suggesting head coach Alain Vigneault should be fired if the team doesn’t start playing up to its abilities.

No matter how you slice it, trying to absolve the coaching staff entirely in this collapse becomes an exercise in personal public relations for Alain Vigneault and his staff.

There are simply too many good hockey players playing too poorly to put all the blame on the skaters.

Two or three guys may be stroking it or not putting forth the effort they should during this time of swoon, but really, are we to believe they all start almost every game as though they’ve just arrived at the beach on a sunny afternoon?

Granted, this is far from the first time Gallagher has unloaded on the coach (see here and here). If it were up to the longtime columnist (who, by the way, was instrumental in the hiring of current general manager Mike Gillis) Vigneault probably wouldn’t have received a two-year contract extension after the Canucks fell to the Kings in the first round of last year’s playoffs.

And to be fair to Vigneault, the absence of former Selke Trophy-winning center Ryan Kesler from all but seven of the Canucks’ 25 games hasn’t helped. Another key player, defenseman Kevin Bieksa, is currently out with a groin injury.

But despite what Vigneault said Monday — “We’re at the midpoint of the season and, in my opinion, we’re exactly where I thought we would be” — the Canucks have been underachieving. The two-time defending Presidents’ Trophy winners have a goal-differential of zero; their once-dangerous power play hasn’t scored in nine games; and their penalty killing hasn’t been much better.

In fact, almost every Canucks team statistic screams mediocrity, if not worse.


And that, it has to be noted, has been done while playing in the Northwest Division, which does not boast a single team with a positive goal differential.

Is it all on the coach? It never is.

But some of it is.

  1. bufffalojoe - Mar 13, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Well there you have it… Fire the coach, hire Lindy Ruff and trade for Ryan miller

    • davebabychreturns - Mar 13, 2013 at 12:38 PM

      I’m sure the Canucks goals against would be amongst the best in the league if they could just cram Miller, Luongo and Schneider together into their goal to block any room the puck might have to cross the line..

      • tfaltin - Mar 13, 2013 at 12:44 PM

        That’s what the Lightning thought with Lindback.

      • elvispocomo - Mar 13, 2013 at 2:03 PM

        Ah, but you’d need at least two Lindback’s to come close to all three of the aforementioned goalies in the crease at once.

  2. elvispocomo - Mar 13, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    Every coach has a lifespan and Vigneault may have just reached his. The team is underperforming and has been dealing with injuries as well as trying to find a left handed D that can play the right side, but I can certainly believe the message has become a bit stale for the players that have been around for some time.

    He’s a good coach, and someone will snap him up if he does get fired, but we’ll have to see how the team really responds from here out.

  3. swizzler16 - Mar 13, 2013 at 2:26 PM

    classic gman

  4. thecheeman - Mar 13, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    Come on the Canucks are in first place despite the GM utterly failing to get some return for one of their two #1 goalies. Is Vigneualt supposed to tell his guys after finishing first overall in the West a few times that it’s absolutely crucial that they press the pedal to the floor to get the top seed or something?

    Let the Canucks move one of the goalies before the deadline, get a useful piece back plus Kesler and then if they’re not in first place by 6 points Canucks writers should totally complain about AV.

  5. thehighcountrybear - Mar 13, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    The entire abbreviated schedule complete with no training camp to speak of, residual resentments festering from the lockout, scrambling to adapt to weird travel and having to deal with key injuries among other things, makes this season an anomaly from which no one can be fairly evaluated, players or coaches! Vigneault’s doing fine and the Canucks will find their game…they’re even half-assed likeable again with the diving having been removed for the most part from their game. Find form in the playoffs, this could be the year for Canucks when less may be expected of them otherwise…they could be playing ‘possum y’all. Out in the first round, tie a can to Vigneault’s backside and promote Bowness, he deserves a shot…

    • kitshky - Mar 14, 2013 at 3:11 PM

      Who are you….and what have you done with thehighcountrybear!?!

  6. salmon90 - Mar 13, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    Not sure I’m ready to get rid of Coach V yet but this is a team with one legit top 3 center right now. Lapierre = 4th liner. Ebbett = 4th liner/minor leaguer…and then you have whichever winger Coach V wants to improvise as a center. I don’t think there’s any big mystery as to why the Canucks are struggling. The Hodgeson trade is not looking good right now but I still really like Kassian and think once he figures out his game he’ll be a beast. Gillis needs to pick up another center ( a legitimate one) soon. Another center plus a healthy Kesler is the only way this team will be able to compete in the playoffs.

  7. blomfeld - Mar 13, 2013 at 11:11 PM


    The Vancouver Canucks are an excellent team and Alain Vigneault is an excellent coach. They’re coming off two consecutive President Trophy campaigns, followed by playoff efforts in which they succumbed to none other than the Stanley Cup winner in each respective year. And then there’s Kesler and Bieksa, who are “massive” components of the Canuck machine and their absence from the lineup cannot be over emphasized. The bottom line is that people like Tony Gallagher are social “parasites” who make a handsome living by creating “needless” upset & stress where there is none. In fact, I would argue that Gallagher is in many ways similar to the wealthy “bearded” defense lawyer in a criminal trial, who value-adds positively “nothing” to society, when all is said and done. No, if there’s anything holding this team back at the moment, then in my opinion that would be Roberto Luongo. He needs to be removed from the equation post haste, as I believe that his continuing presence here is having a “debilitating” effect on the psyche of the team as a whole.

    Executive Summary: Keeping Luongo around is kind of like dumping a woman, but then agreeing to go on further dates with her in the meantime … if you’re going to cut if off, then do so with “conviction” and absolutely “no” reservations …

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