Found June 19, 2013 on
NorthWest Sports Beat:
Time to act
It’s a complicated summer for Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis. For the first time in his tenure, he faces the need to tinker with the core of this hockey club and make some important choices.
After inheriting a team with a significant number of pieces that would eventually take the team to the brink of glory in 2011 and needing the summers preceding only to maintain and reinforce the existing roster, Gillis now faces a need to re-tool, or perhaps rebuild, a team on a dangerous downfall.
Where 2011-2012 could be excused off as a blip or a hangover, 2013 was supposed to be the comeback year. Instead, the Canucks turned in an effort that was somehow worse than the year before, forcing the exit of Alain Vigneault yet shockingly not yet Roberto Luongo.
Mike Gillis is in an unfamiliar situation – crucial decision making (Photo by Kim Stallknecht)
At this time last year, hopes were that the return in a Luongo trade would jumpstart the Canucks and put them over the top in the West. Could anyone imagine that reality would involve Toronto turning him down for a series of second round picks which led to an emotional press conference on deadline day to announce Luongo HADN’T been traded only to see Roberto back between the pipes when the playoffs opened?
As much as Luongo handled the year amazingly, using his time on the pine to shut up in the media and become sport’s most endearing Twitter personality, his entire situation was a distraction that eventually opened up wide enough to swallow the entire season.
Gillis’ major challenge this summer is to get Luongo out of here and allow Cory Schneider to finally be the undisputed number one, not to mention freeing up Luongo’s cap space to either throw at what is quickly becoming a mess up front or absorb the shrinking cap of 2013-2014.
Short of leaving him in a baby basket on the front door of the Panthers rink in Miami, Gillis has to realize that done is better than perfect in this situation. Just get him out of here.
Returning to Alain Vigneault, it took Mike Gillis five years but he finally has to hire his first coach.
Vigneault was as an important inheritance as any of the core players, and he oversaw by far the most successful era of Canucks hockey. His time, however, is now up and Gillis has another important decision with long-lasting implications to make.
The conventional wisdom is that as talented as Vigneault is as a coach, his firing was just justified partially because he had turned control over to the players who had failed to take the reigns and partially because he possessed a series of fatal flaws in his coaching style. It should be interesting to see how he fares in New York.
His replacement seems to be down to two Johns, Tortorella or Stevens. Tortorella would make it a coaching swap with New York, fired because he lost the Rangers’ dressing room. You may have heard he’s famously hotheaded and it’s interesting to speculate on what that would mean if he was brought in to Vancouver.
How would Ryan Kesler, for one, react? For that matter, how would quiet Alex Edler respond? Could Torts reign the Canucks in or would this setup to be Mike Keenan 2.0?
In John Stevens, you have a candidate with a short, but intriguing resume. He won the Calder Cup with the Philadelphia Phantoms in 2005 before replacing Ken Hitchcock as coach of the Flyers in 2006. He stumbled in his first season as the Flyers recorded just 56 points, but turned it around the year after and took the team all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals.
He was eventually given the boot in 2009 for underperforming and signed on as an assistant in Los Angeles, which is where we find him now. He’s been heralded for grooming Drew Doughty into his current self, something Canucks fans can only hope he can replicate with Alex Edler.
Will John Stevens be the next leader of the Canucks?
Either John, or some sort of mystery candidate could that possibly involve Guy Boucher embarking on a villainous plot to force the Aquilinis to name him coach, will have a huge impact on where this team goes in the next few years. It’s the simplest and most effective way of Gillis finally making his stamp on the team and influencing the future.
Problem is, his past stamps include Keith Ballard, David Booth, and Derek Roy, moves that made sense at the time but eventually backfired. Gillis better hope that hindsight doesn’t come back to bite him behind the bench also.
Luongo and Vigneault are just two names on their way out. If we had time, we could talk about whether Keith Ballard or David Booth have a future with the team, whether Alex Edler is tradebait, and just how much of a restructuring this roster needs. It paint a picture of a big, big summer for Mike Gillis, who must also realize that his job is on the line if he can’t get the team out of this rut.
Remove the 2011 run, which is slightly unfair I know, and you have a tenure where twice the team got embarrassed by the Blackhawks in the second round and twice the team got embarrassed by in the first round, winning a total of one game.
If you throw 2011 back into that mix well, they get embarrassed at the end of that one too.
Sure, Gillis has taken the Canucks to great new heights in the regular season but there hasn’t been a single year yet where the team didn’t get eliminated in the playoffs by imploding in spectacular fashion. Imagine if the Hawks had pulled it out in the first round of 2011.
The Canucks surely have to be the only team to win 15 playoff games by melting down in two separate series.
If Mike Gillis can’t reverse course, this stink is on him. It goes without saying this is the summer of his life.
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BEST OF MAXIM
Pat Leonard at the Daily News reports that Ulf Samuelsson is a leading candidate to be hired as one of Alain Vigneault’s assistants. Samuelsson, who was the head coach of Modo (SEL) last season, has apparently left that job. moved to Phoenix and his looking for a job in the NHL.
The former Rangers defenseman was an assistant in Phoenix from 2006 through 2011.
The Rangers have announced that they will hold a press conference tomorrow at Radio City Music Hall starting at 11 a.m. to officially announce that Alain Vigneault has been named the 35th head coach in franchise history.
The press conference will be carried live on MSG.Network.
It is rumored that Vigneault's contract is for five-years, $10 million.
...with the Stanley...
Could Raymond make the move to NYC?
Earlier this week we had a look at Maxim Lapierre and whether he might be a player that follows his former coach Alain Vigneault to New York this summer. Another such candidate – and like Lapierre, a pending free agent – is Mason Raymond. The prospect of Raymond may excite fans a little more than the loyal foot soldier that is Lapierre.
The Canucks got the short end of the stick in the playoffs. The shortest end possible to say the least. Vancouver won the Northwest Division and was promptly broomed out of the playoffs by San Jose. That quick exit led to the firing of coach Alain Vigneault and what smells like regime change in Vancouver.
Team Name: Vancouver Canucks
Record: 26-15-7, 1st in Northwest, Lost 4-0 to...
From News 1130 Sports in Vancouver:
JP Barry the agent for #Canucks u-f-a Mason Raymond says he had a brief talk with#Canucks assistant gm Lawrence Gillman last week.
— News1130 Sports (@News1130Sports) June 19, 2013
Barry was told the #Canucks have not decided yet on whether they will make Raymond an offer or not.
— News1130 Sports (@News1130Sports) June...
Don’t expect a huge difference in performance under Vigneault.
With Alain Vigneault on board, the Rangers are likely going to be changing their styles of play. But with that style change comes understanding what that change will bring. This is something we’ve covered a few times here, but it’s worth digging deeper into the puck possession metrics to see how exactly the Rangers...
John Tortorella is the man that is most well suited to become the next head coach of the Vancouver Canucks. I will admit, this opinion took me a while to come around on. Tortorella is loud, rude, and has a temper. He is everything that Mike Gillis isn’t (style-wise anyway), but the man can coach.
Pierre Lebrun reported today that John Tortorella, John Stevens, Scott Arniel and...
Yesterday, I posted that Ulf Samuelsson and Newell Brown have been mentioned as possible additions to Alain Vigneault's team behind the Rangers bench. Now, Larry Brooks at the New York Post adds a new name to the mix saying that Scott Arniel, the former Blue Jackets head coach and long-time friend of Vigneault, could be an option.
Arniel remains under contract with the Canucks...
At 11am, a new chapter in the history of the New York Rangers will begin with the announcement of Alain Vigneault as the franchise's 35th head coach.
But Pat Leonard at the Daily News says the personnel in attendance could tell a lot more about the future...
"Richards is well-respected, and the Rangers would not put him in the position of standing at Radio City endorsing...
The Rangers have announced that they will introduce Alain Vigneault as the new head coach Friday afternoon during a press conference from Radio City Music Hall. Vigneault officially signed his five-year $10 million contract this week. It is assumed that the Rangers may announce the assistant coaches at this press conference. Previous head coach John Tortorella was fired shortly after...
Now that Alain Vigneault is all but the Rangers new head coach, what exactly are the Rangers getting? Jeff Klein at the New York Times gives us some insight...
"Going by his track record, Vigneault, 52, will stress offense and puck possession over forechecking, tolerate the mistakes of young players instead of bench them at the first missed assignment, and be a good communicator...
According to source, Alain Vigneault has agreed to 5-year deal w/ #Rangers. Told it's in the $2 Million per year range. #NHL
— Louis Jean (@LouisJean_TVA) June 17, 2013
Confirming that Alain Vigneault gets 10 million over 5 years as coach of NYR.Told that was same offer that Dallas had on table for AV.
— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) June 17, 2013
(Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
When a new head coach arrives at a club it’s not just coaching staffs that tend to follow. Players who have built relationships often do the same, and with Maxim Lapierre approaching free agency, the opportunity to join the Rangers seems a logical one for all concerned.
Lapierre is a hard working hockey player that adds depth to the bottom six and is...
Here's some coaching talk from TSN's Darren Dreger:
I'm hearing the Alain Vigneault saga will conclude with his formal introduction as head coach of the New York Rangers on Friday. #TSN
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 19, 2013
Dallas Stars continue to sort through coaching candidates. Nill will meet with Ruff again this week and Tortorella...
From the New York Rangers:
#NYR will hold a Press Conference on Friday 6/21 from @RadioCity. @MSGNetworks will have live coverage starting at 11am EST.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) June 19, 2013
This press conference may or may not have everything to do with the team's naming of Alain Vigneault as its new coach. Okay, that's really what it's about.