To AV or Not to AV
It seems like a lifetime ago, but the Canucks were once in these playoffs facing the eighth seed Los Angeles Kings in the first round of what promised to be many.
Well, it didn’t go well.
The Kings rolled the Canucks in five games and sent the Canucks goaltending situation into chaos due to the fact that Roberto Luongo was ineffective manning the point on the powerplay.
Not realizing quite yet that the Kings are some kind of freaky team of destiny, the knives came out for the greatest Canucks choke job since last year and the year before that and probably also the year before that too.
The fallout currently stands at another bout of long-term surgery for Ryan Kesler, a well publicized goaltending debate that perhaps finally gets solved at the draft, and a coach who is currently in hiding who hasn’t been fired but also hasn’t exactly recieved a vote of confidence from his boss Mike Gillis.
No Speakie To The Pressie
Tellingly, Alain Vigneault hasn’t spoken to the press since the Canucks first round defeat, a signal that his future with the club is still a bit uncertain. With one year left on his contract, and Gillis already receiving a juicy extension from the Aquaman, any questions from the media to AV that aren’t a form of “What the hell happened?” will be contract-related.
Considering how little fun Luongo had answering contract questions with an actual answer in regards to his NTC, it’s not suprising neither Alain Vigneault nor Mike Gillis want to put the coach in a situation to answer a variant of “no comment” 20 times.
So what happens with AV?
Obviously right after the series loss to LA, the easy answer was to scapegoat him and find some new blood since the core of this team, outside of the goaltenders, is pretty much unmovable.
Vigneault has been criticized in the past for being unable to adept in the playoffs and stop the bleeding, relying for better or for worse on the performance of his players.
To his detractors, he is easily outcoachable and far from the reason the Canucks came within a game of the Stanley Cup last year and perhaps the reason they couldn’t win one more. Last spring, over half of the Canucks defeats were by 4 or more goals.
Vigneault has been criticized in the past for being unable to adapt.
When the AV Canucks are rolling, they’re unstoppable.
When they’re not…
Yet as the Kings continue to roll, Alain Vigneault has more wins over Los Angeles than the master tacticians Ken Hitchcock and Dave Tippet.
It should be obvious by now that the Kings aren’t your typical eighth seed but rather a team that came within a few points of winning their division and one that acquired their regular season record mostly without the services of whatever Sutter brother is coaching them and and Mike Richard’s linemate Jeff Carter, two vital components to their playoff run.
A suitable replacement is?
The problem with sending Alain Vigneault the way of Roberto Luongo is that there’s no Cory Schneider equivalent waiting in the wings.
Earlier last week, I attempted to write about five possible replacements for AV and after slotting Marc Crawford in the fourth position I stopped completely. Barring capturing lightning in a bottle there simply isn’t a better option out there but hey I hear Tom Renney’s available now.
So barring some kind of surprise, I fully expect Vigneault to be back behind the Canucks bench this year.
The light at the end of this window is fast approaching, a couple years maybe, and I doubt Gillis wants to roll the dice too much by replacing a known commodity.
Whether or not Vigneault receives an extension over the summer will be the real tell in the organization’s confidence and whether they see him more of a Bylsma or a Therrien.
Critics of AV will probably decry this as more of the same but the same is back-to-back President’s Trophies and a legendary playoff run that was a lot of things but was also indisputably one of the best times to be a Canucks fan.
It’s just weird we haven’t resolved this yet or, you know, seen him in three weeks.
Please comment below or hit me up on twitter today!
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© Richard Hodges for North West Sports Beat, 2012. |
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