Sixteen legitimate reasons to fire Alain Vigneault

In case you haven’t noticed, Vancouver fans and media can be a fickle bunch. The Canucks’ struggles over the last several weeks have everyone on edge, looking for the slightest provocation to heap scorn and ridicule on the boys in blue and green. (For instance, if your psyche is the least bit frail, I don’t recommend reading Tony Gallagher’s recent columns, as they will likely send you into a funk that is funkier than Bootsy Collins on bass).

For Alain Vigneault, however, the vitriol has been aimed his way all season. According to some fans, Vigneault is hanging on to the Canucks’ coaching job by his fingertips and every single one of his decisions is a foot smashing down on his fingers. According to these fans, if the Canucks don’t make it to the Western Conference Final, Vigneault should be fired. If they don’t make the Stanley Cup Final, Vigneault should be fired. If they don’t win the Stanley Cup, Vigneault should be fired fired fired. 

Into the sun.

Now, such declarations are all a little absurd, as the accomplishment of each of these goals is dependent on so many variables outside of a coach’s control. Everything from injuries, to bounces, to running into a hot goaltender can derail a team’s Cup hopes, to the point that it has been argued that the best team wins the Cup only 22% of the time. Unfortunately for his detractors, Vigneault’s sterling record with the team has earned him a slightly longer leash than they would like.

The most absurd moment in Vancouver’s imbalanced-towards-hate, love-hate relationship came Tuesday morning, when news came out of the morning practice that the much-maligned Mason Raymond had been promoted to the top line to play with the Sedins. Twitter erupted with irate fans calling for Vigneault to be fired, that somehow a line combination that had only seen the ice in one practice was the last straw and grounds for immediate dismissal.

Never mind that Vigneault has previously experienced wildly unexpected success with an out-of-left-field linemate for the Sedins — the new line combination had yet to even play a single game together and Vigneault’s head was already on the chopping block.

Considering that Mike Gillis didn’t fire Vigneault when he first was hired as the General Manager as the Canucks, despite most new GMs bringing in their own coaching staff, he didn’t fire Vigneault when the Canucks missed the playoffs in 2008, and he didn’t fire Vigneault after their 8 game winless streak in 2009, it seems unlikely that he will fire him for trying out a new line combination in practice. Yes, Vigneault decided to use that line combination on Wednesday against the Coyotes and appears to be willing to try it again on Saturday against the Blue Jackets, but that still wouldn’t be a good reason to fire him.

If you’re looking good reasons to fire Alain Vigneault, PITB’s got you covered. The following 16 things would be completely legitimate reasons to fire Alain Vigneault:

1. Gave the access codes for the Caprica military computer network to a Cylon posing as a human woman.

2. Instead of sending Keith Ballard to the press box, ripped out his still beating heart from his chest like Mola Ram.

3. Was responsible for the well-being of the horses on HBO’s “Luck.”

4. Cackled like a madman when it was suggested that Wellwood was “playing like a man possessed” because he is an actual demon that was possessing Wellwood and really appreciated the irony.

5. Is actually D.B. Cooper.

6. Continued to investigate X-Files even after the FBI closed the division and reassigned him to Federal background checks.

7. Borrowed Mike Gillis’s laptop and downloaded 15 Internet Explorer toolbars.

8. Released rage-infected monkeys out into the public.

9. Humiliated Roberto Luongo with new powerplay formation that places him in front of the opponents’ goal “because that’s how teams score against us.”

10. Is the man responsible for bringing former Alcatraz inmates into the future and unleashing them on San Francisco.

11. Tried to write his name in the moon with a laser.

12. Was recently unmasked as the ghost haunting the abandoned amusement park. He would have gotten away with it too, it if it wasn’t for those meddling kids.

13. Refuses to take down his Christmas lights.

14. Recently became a vegan and is soooooo self-righteous about it.

15. Accidentally e-mailed Mike Gillis a copy of his movie script about a savvy French Canadian coach and his super-stupid boss who used to be a player agent.

16. Always caught chewing gum, but never brings enough for everybody.

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58 comments

  1. Jon
    March 15, 2012

    Glad I wasn’t drinking anything while I read this.

    Brilliant.

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    • Blair
      March 15, 2012

      I was just coming down here to lament ignoring all those warnings about drinking and reading PITB…

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  2. obituary mambo
    March 15, 2012

    Ha! Great read.

    Obviously no one is happy about this recent skid, but calling for Vingeault to be fired is ridiculous beyond the freaking telling of it. AV is a genius. Some, such as myself, might even go so far as to call him a coaching god. He has literally worked wonders for this team. Firing him would be an act of pure idiocy. An abomination I wouldn’t soon get over.

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    • Nick
      March 15, 2012

      “AV is a genius. Some, such as myself, might even go so far as to call him a coaching god.”

      Holy crap! You are really a serious fan of the man.

      My take is that Vigneault is a good coach with strengths and weaknesses. During games when he has to match wits with the opposing coaches, I wouldn’t say he is the second coming of Scotty Bowman. But I would argue that he is an outstanding “player development” coach and, for that reason, I think Kassian ended up in the right place.

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      • beano
        March 15, 2012

        do you include blasting players in the media after bad games part of his development strategy ? Thinking *most recently* of Moose turned Canucks Edler and Kessler being called out to the vancouver media. Or how about his latest “development project” Hodgson? who, after years of rumors about problems with the coach, asks for a trade out of the city. lets hope that because Kassian fits V’s ideal player type (big,gritty,tough) that he will get better treatment.

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        • Nick
          March 15, 2012

          I’m not an AV apologist, and I don’t like the way he runs to the reporters to slag his players either. In my book, that goes into the “minus” column. I’m sure it bothers the players, and is not what the best coaches are known for.

          But with respect to player development, Vigneault did a bang up job with the Moose during the lockout. With the Canucks, on the back end, Bieksa improved; Alberts and Rome went from castoffs to useful additions; and he deserves credit for bring Edler along too. Among the forwards, Burrows, Hansen, Raymond, and others have gone from not much to pretty valuable players. Kessler was also pretty green, and blossomed into a Selke winner.

          I don’t have a strong opinion about how Coho was handled by AV. But I did think he should have gotten more ice time last season. The jury is still out on Coho’s potential; his development needs might be unique because he’s smaller and slower; and might need be in the top 6 to come into his own … for what it’s worth, Lindy Ruff has already bumped Cody to the 4th line with under 10 minutes of ice time.

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          • John in Marpole
            March 16, 2012

            I don’t consider the coach honestly commenting when a player – whom everyone can see is not playing well – isn’t playing well, as “slag(ing)’ the player.

            Time and again the media and fans bemoan the fact that players and coaches always say the same empty words in interviews, then when AV is candid he is accused of ‘throwing players under the bus’, etc., etc.

            I just don’t get the level of dislike so many in this market have for AV. His team bettered 28 other NHL teams by getting to the SCF last season, after bettering 29 other teams in the regular season.

            He has shown that he can work with what he has available. When the team wasn’t nearly as offensively talented as it is now he put together a damed fine defensive lineup. While he was in Manitoba he developed several of the players that are now the core of the present canuck lineup, and now that he has an offensively talented team he has implemented a system that suits that strenght.

            As to Hodgson, Cody owns as much of whatever disfunction there was as does AV. If there was a bad relationship between them, it always takes 2 to get things to that situation. The very fact that AV the coach brought out the best of Alex Burrows, to cite one example, proves that AV can have incredible success in developing players – as long as that player puts in the effort necessary.

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        • fan63
          March 16, 2012

          If those two cant handle a calling out in the media they shouldnt expect the big dollars

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      • obituary mambo
        March 16, 2012

        I may have gotten a bit carried away… *blushes* Having said that, is there a coach who’s done more for the team or had a better streak with them? Pat Quinn was amazing, but even his winning percentage is only 55% compared to the 63% AV’s been able to accumulate. GMMG has been wonderful at putting the pieces in place, but it’s up to AV to turn those pieces into a cohesive unit. For my money, he’s done so in spectacular fashion.

        As has been pointed out elsewhere, a lot of the upper echelon teams are slumping right now, but I don’t hear people clamoring for Claude Julien or Mike Babcock to be fired. People need to calm down. Vingeault will get us through this rough patch.

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        • John in Marpole
          March 16, 2012

          I don’t think you have to apologize, you weren’t nearly as overboard in your praise as the anti-AVs are in their condemnations of him. I know that Daniel had his tongue in his cheek writing his post, but the fact is that after every loss – and even some victories – at least 1 hockey-knowledge-impaired guy calls in to 1040 to demand that AV be fired.

          AV is the best Canuck coach to have ever patrolled the bowels of the PNE Forum*, the Coliseum or GM Place/Rogers Arena.

          *Inserted for those old-timers +cough+ who remember the WHL Canucks playing in that barn pre-Coliseum.

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          • Reuben
            March 16, 2012

            AV is a great coach, but the best coach to have head coached the Canucks? Unless he wins The Cup, I’d have to give him a tie with Roger Nielson.

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            • obituary mambo
              March 17, 2012

              I was just a wee little one living in southern California who had never heard of hockey during Nielson’s stint with the team. Around that time, my sisters and I saw a film about a figure skater, which pretty much served as our introduction to the frozen world. We were captivated and, from that point on, would pretend we were ice skating whenever we went out roller skating. Hockey wasn’t even on our radar; there were no ice rinks in the vicinity. Also, no one else in my family is interested in sports, so I had to cultivate my interest and knowledge on my own.

              Please forgive my lack of knowledge regarding Nielson; given my age and upbringing, I didn’t even think of him. All I have to go on as far as he’s concerned is his coaching record, which seems less impressive than AV’s does, but I’m also sure it doesn’t really tell the whole story.

              It also occurs to me that my statement above is inaccurate. Those are actually the percentages of possible points accumulated, not winning percentage.

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  3. sgolesor
    March 15, 2012

    17. Suggested to NBC that Community be put on hiatus

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    • sarah
      March 15, 2012

      AV totally Brita’d that one

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  4. FrancoL
    March 15, 2012

    “Humiliated Roberto Luongo with new powerplay formation that places him in front of the opponents’ goal “because that’s how teams score against us.””

    This line gave me my first sustained laugh of the day. Brilliant, I say. Just brilliant.

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    • Brent
      March 15, 2012

      My favorite to!

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  5. Alison
    March 15, 2012

    I WAS drinking when I read this and it wasn’t pretty as I read through the list – especially #13 and #15 – could not (and can not) stop laughing and the drink went spewing – brilliant as usual. And I will resist the temptation to read Tony Gallagher’s column – that guy is so negative it’s hard to belive he covers this team. Maybe he is an plant from Boston or Chicago?

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    • stathead
      March 15, 2012

      I think Gallagher may be a plant from Mars. Or more likely Uranus.

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  6. Nick
    March 15, 2012

    I noticed last night that Tony G was not part of the intermission “panel” with Iain MacIntyre and Dan Murphy. I wonder if ownership got tired of Tony’s recent critical columns and asked that he be replaced by the far more benign Dixon Ward? Dixon is much more the company man than Tony G could ever be.

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    • Matt
      March 17, 2012

      I prefer to think of them as Murph’s Brain Trust (TM). I can’t say I miss Gallagher’s sallow face, which was clearly made for the print media.

      PS #18 AV gave Jeff Dunham his first puppet.

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  7. Innovation
    March 15, 2012

    #11 I already knew it was Chairface Chippendale! I guess as soon as we see ‘Ala’ on the moon, we’ll know who is responsible.

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  8. beano
    March 15, 2012

    while i totally agree that coach V is deserving of the long leash that he has been given by GM Gillis, I do wonder what will happen if this team fails in this coming playoffs. Gillis has, over the past several seasons, built a cup contender here in Vancouver. Last year we came so close but got out muscled and let down by inconsistent refs so Gillis went out and fixed the only one of those problems he could by acquiring more grit in the form of Bitz,Duco, Weiss and now Kassian. He did not feel the need to change up the voice in the dressing room after such a disappointing loss in game 7 but rather stuck with the coach.

    I am not one of those people calling for coach V to be fired, but simply wondering what else can Gillis do? This is a great team as they proved last year but also this year in Boston and Detroit, but this team cannot stay together for ever. Contracts are coming up to key players soon. Its a rainy day and its really to early to be thinking these thoughts… but if this year does not go as planned, what options will Gillis be left with to get this team the cup?

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    • Reuben
      March 16, 2012

      I would say, add a couple pieces and try again.

      Why would anyone fire a coach that gets his team to a Stanley Cup final? Even a conference final. It’s getting to be pretty much a coin toss by that point.

      If they lose the first or second round in 5 or less games, I’ll change my tune. But otherwise, why fire one of the most successful active coaches in the NHL? That’s just crazy knee jerk reaction talking.

      Even the Tick wouldn’t go that far. Okay, maybe the Tick would, but Arthur, not a chance.

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  9. Jim
    March 15, 2012

    Nope, its because he has proof that 9-11 never really happened and that the buildings were never really there.

    This team could win 12-0 and there would still be complaints about how he should have done things better.

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  10. Scheider for the win
    March 15, 2012

    Oh settle down!

    This is the BEST Canucks team ever! And coached by the most Winningest Canucks coach EVER.

    Plus it would seem like all the 3-4 top teams are kinda slupping right now. Probably because its hard to stay at the top for 2 years in a row!

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  11. Dani
    March 15, 2012

    I’m willing to bet my bank account I looked absolutely ridiculous trying not to laugh out loud while at the front desk at work.

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  12. shoes
    March 15, 2012

    hahaha…..good points….the current crop of Canucks fans posting on many sites is a god-awful embarrassment. I admit that I will be one unhappy camper if they continue to play like they are…..however no fan can actually believe what they and media like Tony G post….it has to be a joke. Tony looks like his underwear is much too small, but I attribute it to the extreme nervousness caused by the game 7 meltdown ……some people have trouble getting over things.

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  13. akidd
    March 15, 2012

    thanks for the link: the best team wins the Cup only 22% of the time

    pretty interesting stuff. i had a good converstaion with a good brit friend soccer nut. he said he had watched a bit of hockey but quickly dismissed it as a serious sport because so much luck was involved. and i couldn’t refute it. so many bounces and so much goaltending.

    maybe the fatalistic nature of hockey is why it reaches religious proportions in canada. we all sit around willing the puck to bounce the way we want it to and any success has a divine element to it.

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    • peanutflower
      March 15, 2012

      Wait, what? Hockey is a less “serious” sport than soccer? Because of what? Bounces and goaltending? They have that stuff in soccer too, you know. I actually fail to see the difference in the “serious” aspect of either soccer or hockey, them both being games and all. I hope you dismissed your Brit friend’s dismissal of hockey forthwith; right?

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      • akidd
        March 15, 2012

        thanks for the reply, peanutflower. as i said i couldn’t refute it. in soccer there are many fewer shots on net than hockey so the goaltending doesn’t play quite the same role. if a guy gets a clearcut chance on net in soccer(big net) he’ll often score. not so much in hockey.

        sure there are bounces in soccer but many more are required to bring the ball into a scoring position than in hockey.

        hey, i like hockey(i like soccer too) but i agree with the premise that the best team doesn’t always win the cup. according to the article that daniel posted a link to it only happens 22% of the time.

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        • tom selleck's moustache
          March 15, 2012

          “daniel posted a link to it only happens 22% of the time.”

          I looked into that sometime last year and came up with a similar number (I think I looked at the last twenty years). However, when you consider that there are 16 teams in the playoffs, the top seed is beating the statistical average of 6% by quite a large margin and still remains at having the best odds. And this became even more apparent when you included the top two seeds in each conference (especially the West vs the East). Basically, it was pretty clear that the best teams simply won the cup the most often, which you would expect.

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        • Amor de Cosmos
          March 15, 2012

          As an ex-Brit who followed soccer avidly growing up, and continues to do so from a distance, I’d say the comparison is apples and oranges. Soccer, in any country has nothing comparable to playoff series in North American sports. League championships determine the best team — on a soccer basis the Canucks would have been the Champions last season because we had the best overall record — and single game knock-out cup competitions determine other championships. Luck plays a part in any sport, a soccer player with the ball at his feet and an open goal is quite as likely to volley it into row Z of the stand as he is to put it into the net. Grass is not as smooth as ice, the human foot more varied in shape than a hockey stick, the elements rain, sun, wind are also factors. About the only thing one can say about luck is that it evens out over a season, and it’s more likely to even out over a 84 game NHL season than a 40–46 game one that most soccer leagues play. Yes, play-off series’s don’t provide the season’s best team — The President’s Trophy does that and the soccer fan in me says winning it should
          bring more cred than it does. OTOH the Stanley Cup brings more concentrated intensity. It exposes different qualities to regular season games and therefore a different team, and more significantly a different type of team, often wins it (cf: last year, unfortunately.) Soccer has nothing similar.

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        • stathead
          March 16, 2012

          You can sing a little song for your Brit friend next time he praises football: “In Italia, In Italia, you can buy a referee; but in Deutschland, but in Deutschland, you can’t buy a referee.” (To be sung to “Oh my darling Clementine.”)

          Football results are not exactly 100% merit-based either.

          PS- also, from me, please do tell him that rugby is better.

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          • obituary mambo
            March 16, 2012

            A Kiwi moved to my small Czech city earlier this year and she is a die-hard rugby fan, so I finally saw my first couple of matches. That is one bizarre game.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      March 15, 2012

      As both a soccer and hockey fan, I can confidently say that is a load of bull-pucky.

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  14. Sandy
    March 15, 2012

    Imagine if they fired AV and replaced him with Ron Wilson.

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    • Shand
      March 15, 2012

      Hah! Pretty much this.

      All these people want to fire AV but who exactly do they think can do a better job?

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    • obituary mambo
      March 16, 2012

      I assume your point is that such an act would be a travesty? That being the case, I have to agree with you and Shand. If AV were fired, who is there to replace him? Any first year coach can come in and shake things up, but I can’t think of person who would be a step up in the long term.

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      • Reuben
        March 16, 2012

        Let’s not forget about Craig Mactavish. Not that I’m advocating putting him in the driver’s seat, but you did ask who could replace AV.

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        • obituary mambo
          March 17, 2012

          Hmmm… That doesn’t seem like a step in the right direction.

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  15. Sleeper58
    March 15, 2012

    What all of the naysayers don’t seem to realize is that 29 out of 30 teams either miss the playoffs or lose their final game. People that EXPECT the Canucks to win are delusional. It’s a tough league and we are lucky to have Gillis and Vigneault.

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  16. Steve
    March 15, 2012

    The problem with NHL stories, is that the media doesn’t really tell you the whole truth about what’s going on behind the scenes. It’s extremely controlled and the public is manipulated. You have to wait for good hockey books like Theoren Fleury’s new autobiography, where he really lays it on the line about coaches and players attitudes towards them. He doesn’t hold anything back, which is really refreshing. The NHL wants the public to believe that coaches and players have mature professional relationships, but in fact often the players hate the coach’s guts. A negative, unpopular coach can destroy a team’s desire to win. Maybe this is going on with Canucks. They’ve obviously got problems. They are NEVER going to win the Stanley Cup with Roberto Luongo, that’s for sure, and as Theoren Fleury would say, the Sedins are “made of glass.” Canucks need a serious overhaul.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      March 15, 2012

      One thing to keep in mind is that Theo Fleury played in a bit of a different era when the relationships between players and coaches were very different than they are now. I sincerely doubt that the players on the Canucks hate Alain Vigneault and I think it’s a pretty ridiculous suggestion. Vigneault has coached some of these players for 7 years, coming up with them from the Manitoba Moose. While I doubt that he’s best friends with the players, I have very little doubt that he and the players have a professional and mature working relationship.

      Gone are the days when coaches would bag skate their players every other practice and scream at them like a madman. Coaching has significantly changed.

      And no, the team that just went to game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final does not need a “serious overhaul.” Chill out.

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    • beninvictoria
      March 15, 2012

      “They are NEVER going to win the Stanley Cup with Roberto Luongo, that’s for sure”

      You seem pretty confident considering they were within 60 minutes of accomplishing just such a feat.

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    • stathead
      March 16, 2012

      Made of glass; Hank’s ironman streak was >550 games in early Feb, so about 560 or so now.

      Made of glass for sure. Why let facts get in the way of a solid opinion?

      The earth is flat. FLAT, I tell you.

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      • Square Ball
        March 16, 2012

        He’s made of really really strong glass.

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        • stathead
          March 16, 2012

          Ha ha! That could make the basis of a future PITB. “The Sedin Twins: Made of glass like the glass that they make the windows of the space shuttles from.”

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      • Reuben
        March 16, 2012

        Made of Tanner Glass?

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    • John in Marpole
      March 16, 2012

      Yeah, they finished 1st overall last season and won 15 games in the playoffs. This year they have had their division won for what weems like 3 months and are still near the top of the overall standings. Clearly the coach is unpopular with the palyers and a Maple Leaf-like not 5 years/going on 5 years rebuild is totally necessary.

      Is that you, Tony?

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      • Phileo99
        March 16, 2012

        This morning, I was listening to the radio and learned that tony gallagher is calling for AV to be fired. The winningest coach in history of the Canucks, led the Canucks to umpteenth NW division titles, and tonyG wants him fired? Are you kidding me? The remarks he makes is probably what fans the paranoia flames of what is otherwise really a little molehill of certain things that AV could be doing better as a coach. Sure, AV decided to play Luongo, and Canucks lost, and I don’t always agree with how he favours Rome over Ballard, but is that reason enough to fire the 3rd coach in the Canucks history to have taken us to the SCF? Unfortunately, TonyG is paid to write incendiary material, and he has succeeded in getting a few in the media on board the fire AV bandwagon. I wish he would stop it with that nonsense though.

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  17. Jim
    March 15, 2012

    Sedins made of glass; wow! I believe you are delusional . . . yes quite delusional. Its been open season on the Sedins for the last four years and they continue to go about their business without complaint. Remember the stick between the visor and the face and the officiating team that night didn’t even give a “make up call”. Made of glass?!

    Good teams can beat any other team on any given night, great teams can do that and beat adversity and inconsistency with officiating. Just like the old days with Montreal, Detroit, Edmonton dynasties. Made of glass?!! Me thinks not.

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  18. Jack
    March 15, 2012

    AV is the Man!! Stupid title

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  19. J21
    March 16, 2012

    “Considering that Mike Gillis didn’t fire Vigneault when he first was hired as the General Manager as the Canucks, despite most new GMs bringing in their own coaching staff, he didn’t fire Vigneault when the Canucks missed the playoffs in 2008,”

    To be clear, those are the same moment… Gillis was brought in after the Canucks missed the playoffs in 2008. He has never been at the helm of a Canuck team that failed to win the Northwest Division.

    Is #10 a reference to Demolition Man?

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  20. John in Marpole
    March 16, 2012

    #7 – That was probably my girl-friend who did that, not AV. She has yet to meet a toolbar or add-on that she doesn’t want to give a good home to on her computer.

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  21. Brian
    March 16, 2012

    AV has his strengths and I think he has accomplished a lot for this team. I believe this team has all the parts to win a championship but they seem to have issues with being prepared or motivated for games recently. Is it fair to put that on AV? Yes, it is part of his job but players need to take some responsibility as well. I actually think this team’s biggest flaw is a lack of creativity, when AV’s systems break down or the team is getting bad bounces the players stick to what they know instead of getting creative. I think the Sedin’s are great players who think the game very well and come up with some creative plays ( slap pass, ice pass, long shot pass) but tend to do the same type of plays over and over again. Don’t get me wrong it works a lot but I think they can get predictable. Kesler, Booth, Burrows all are great players as well but dont have a lot of flare for lack of a better word. I think that Hodgson this season and Ehrhoff last season gave us a few more offensive looks that we are lacking right now. I don’t think that AV is to blame for anything but I also don’t see him as a coach who will provide offensive creativity. We talk so much about goal tending and toughness as factors that cost us the cup last year but I think at the end of the day the goals were not there and nothing changed in the way the Canucks played.

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  22. Ibobo
    March 17, 2012

    I think what ails the Canucks right now is fatigue and motivation. Players should be rested and line combinations should juggled to create interest, as AV is doing

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