Alain Vigneault signs contract extension, will continue infuriating Canucks fans with his damn winning

Alain Vigneault thinks of how mad people are right now.

It’s official: Alain Vigneault will will be back behind the Canucks bench for a seventh season. As was expected from the moment Mike Gillis inked a deal to continue on as the Canucks’ General Manager, the team announced an extension with head coach Vigneault Wednesday afternoon. From the Canucks:

“Alain has established himself as one of the premiere coaches in the National Hockey League,” said Gillis. “He has demonstrated a commitment to winning that has led to back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies and we are confident his dedication and hard work will continue to yield positive results. Alain has built a foundation of winning with this franchise and I feel he can continue to build on that foundation to achieve our ultimate goal.”

“I am pleased to be signing this extension to continue as the Head Coach of such an outstanding organization,” said Vigneault. “I look forward to taking the next step with this franchise in bringing the Stanley Cup to Vancouver. I feel fortunate to be able to work with such a dedicated group of management, coaches and players in this great city I love.”

This deal makes all the sense in the world. Vigneault is the winningest coach in Vancouver Canucks’ history. He’s developed a team that will contend for the Stanley Cup. He’s coached the team to two consecutive Presidents’ trophies and a 2011 Cup Final appearance. He’s been nominated for two Jack Adams awards and won one. His track record as the coach of this team should speak for itself.

And yet, it seems as though the overwhelming reaction to his extension is negative. Why? Because, for all his success, Vigneault has yet to lead the Canucks to a championship. Meanwhile, Supercoach J. Instantcup is just sitting around, waiting to replace him and do what he does.

I mean, sure, Vigneault has won two consecutive regular season titles, but the Presidents’ Trophy means nothing. It’s super easy to get and is in no way indicative of a team being excellent, which is why the Canucks won so many of them in their first 40 years.

The irony is that the people claiming the Presidents’ Trophy is meaningless are the ones whose reason is blinded by their intense desire to see the team win. Little do they know that Presidents’ Trophy is awarded to teams that win with a standout measure of frequency. Someone should tell them.

Here’s the thing: the Canucks’ regression this past season was cause for concern, as was their slow start in the Conference quarterfinals, but it was hardly cause for firing the best coach the team has ever had, a coach that is still coaching at an elite level, having led his team to the best record in the league, is regarded around the league as one of the best, and has already proven his ability to get this team to the Stanley Cup Final.

If the team regresses further next season, then maybe you consider making a change. But for right now, Vigneault remains the right choice to run the Canucks, which is why he will continue to do so.

58 comments

  1. tom selleck's moustache
    May 23, 2012

    “Supercoach J. Instantcup”

    This made me laugh out loud for quite a while. I think it’s possible to at least hire him as an assistant, though.

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  2. Andrew Fleming
    May 23, 2012

    I doubt Supercoach J. Instantcup would’ve lost his composure over Angry Bieksa Face.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      May 23, 2012

      Supercoach J. Instantcup >>>>> Vigneault

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  3. tom selleck's moustache
    May 23, 2012

    I would add that I think I also read that President’s Trophy winners win the cup about 30% of the time. When you consider that 16 teams are contesting in the playoffs, that’s actually a pretty high win rate. So to simply dismiss winning the PT as meaningless in the playoffs isn’t really true; you generally have the best odds of winning when you are the PT winner.

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    • Mack
      May 23, 2012

      So does that mean if they win it next year they’re guaranteed to win the Cup? WOOOO!

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      • tom selleck's moustache
        May 23, 2012

        Sadly, no, as that only covers 90% odds, still leaving a 10% window for heartbreaking failure. :(

        On the other hand, if they win again the year after next, then we’re guaranteed.

        WOOHOO!

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        • Frank N.
          May 23, 2012

          I wish that was how statistical chance worked…

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          • tom selleck's moustache
            May 23, 2012

            Me too.

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  4. Abby
    May 23, 2012

    Hear hear! Well said Harrison. I’m nothing but pleased to see him stay. After all, who exactly were all the AV nay-sayers suggesting take his place? He’s our best option right now, and keeping him on just makes sense, at least for the 2012-2013 season.

    Also, did anyone else find it absolutely hilarious that the official report from the Canucks used the word “winningest”?

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    • JS Topher
      May 23, 2012

      You uh… do know that is a word, right?

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      • Abby
        May 23, 2012

        Yes. It just tends to feel more slang-ish. I dunno. But I found it funny.

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  5. Brent
    May 23, 2012

    Good news, but will all the assistant coaches stay around? So Daniel and Harrison, what is the inside scoop?

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    • Harrison Mooney
      May 23, 2012

      Yes.

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    • Rituro
      May 23, 2012

      I can’t imagine AV without his wingmen, Newell “Crazyface” Brown and Rick “Long” Bowness.

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  6. Rachael
    May 23, 2012

    Ugh. Just what we need. Another season of that darn gum chewing.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      May 23, 2012

      Looks like some people didn’t get that this was a joke.

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    • pooroldbear
      May 23, 2012

      Might be just kidding about the gum chewing. But the lozenges are an entirely separate issue and need to be addressed.

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      • Micheal
        May 24, 2012

        I want Vigneault’s Lozenges on vinyl.

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  7. Steve
    May 23, 2012

    Well that’s the best news I’ve heard all day, although the day is young.

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  8. Mark in Steveston
    May 23, 2012

    I’d rather have gum chewing and uncontrolled laughter, than childish one-word answers at post-game pressers.

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    • Kenji
      May 23, 2012

      Torts amuses me…he’s playing us all, winding us up for the epic moment where his eyes actually turn red (from the aneurism) and then he falls over onto the floor. That will rule the interwebs!

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      • peanutflower
        May 23, 2012

        Yeah, one sort of feels there’s a monster inside old Torts that’s just screaming to get out, right?

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    • Misha
      May 23, 2012

      LOL – I love Trots, and to be honest have no problem with his approach. Every coach has their own feelings and style on what will be effective for their team, and if Trots believes giving nothing away in interviews improves his team’s chances of winning, then so be it. Results have certainly been positive so far.

      I don’t even mind it as a fan. The interviews are funny, and you just know if he gave any actualy information away most of the media would try to turn it into a controversy – why give the team unnecessary distractions?

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      • John in Marpole
        May 24, 2012

        I am greatly amused by how offended some in the press are by Tortorella’s response or lack thereof, to questions. who cares? What gems of wisdom do coaches throw out there during the playoffs that are being missed? None.

        Perhaps he could make the press happy by responding with ‘upper-body’ and ‘lower-body’ no matter what the question is, because that’s about all that he’d say if he was saying anything anyways. The suggestion by some of the press that Tortorella is depriving the fans of knowledge is hogwash, baloney and balderdash.

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        • Mark in Steveston
          May 24, 2012

          If I were a fan of the Rangers, I’d be a bit embarrassed over the behaviour of my team’s head coach. After all, he is a professional, and the team is located right smack dab in the world’s biggest media market. It’s one thing to ‘play it coy’, but to be purposely antagonistic is something completely different. To tell a columnist to ‘Go F*ck Yourself” is a bit over the top, I think.

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          • John in Marpole
            May 24, 2012

            I dunno, many are the times I’ve read a certain hockey columnist’s missive in the other Vancouver paper and thought that what I’d really like to say to him is ‘Go F*ck yourself.’

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  9. Daniel Wagner
    May 23, 2012

    Here’s the problem with your argument: coaches get fired so often in the NHL that there’s a very small sample size of coaches who have coached the same team for an extended period of time. And, since only 1 out of every 30 teams can win the Stanley Cup, it’s not surprising that long-serving coaches don’t tend to win the Cup.

    Personally, I think teams are too quick to fire coaches. The Dallas Stars were incredibly foolish to fire Dave Tippett, who has done an amazing job in Phoenix, for instance.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      May 24, 2012

      The longest serving coaches in the NHL right now are Barry Trotz (Nashville, 1998) and Lindy Ruff (Buffalo, 1997). Then is Mike Babcock (Detroit, 2005) and next is Vigneault, who started in Vancouver in 2006. The majority of NHL coaches have held their positions for 3 years or less, with the next longest tenured coach being Claude Julien, who won the cup in his fourth year as coach in Boston.

      When it comes to your formula for a long-serving coach, just Trotz, Ruff, Babcock, Vigneault, and (now) Julien fit. They’re the only coaches who have served longer than 4 seasons. Again, since only 1 team can win the Stanley Cup each season, the odds aren’t great that one of the teams coached by a long-serving coach will win the Cup.

      I understand your point, though. I just don’t think that this was the right time to make a change, not after the Canucks just won their second straight Presidents’ Trophy. The Bruins also got knocked out in the first round and Claude Julien has coached them for 5 years. Should he also be fired? Is it time for a change there? What is the difference between Julien and Vigneault? The difference is one game. Game seven. An important game, certainly, but just one game.

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  10. akidd
    May 23, 2012

    hey mt, i’ve heard that argument kicking around a bit. it certainly is an interesting stat about coaches not winning cups after their 3rd or 4th year.

    do players get a little too comfortable after awhile? i’m sure they do. do players give a little more to impress the new boss? probably.

    but there is just so much damn happenstance in the game now, so many factors that are out of a coach or gm’s control, from hot goalies to reffing to playoff seedings to many bouncy pucks being blocked or deflected in off the dozen players standing in front of the net. to make a move like changing a coach to stir the luck pot seems like a desperate butterfly flap to me.

    look at chelsea. they finally won their champion’s league trophy with an interim coach after years of trying and around 1 billion dollars spent. did they finally build the right team? absolutely not. it was probsably their worst team and season in years. they fluked out. how is that a blueprint for success? it’s not. luck either happens to you or it doesn’t but you certainly don’t try to script success like that.

    as for stats then let’s look at what % of coaches win the cup in their first to third years. it’s pretty low i’m guessing. somewhere around 3-9% i bet.

    this is what i keep telling myself anyway. mostly because AV hockey has been some of the best, most exciting hockey i’ve ever seen and i’d like to see some more.

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    • akidd
      May 23, 2012

      nice post, mt. well put. i too wonder what might happen with a coaching shake up but wonder is about all. besides, i’m starting to waiver a bit about whether the stanely cup really is all that. it seems like the league gets too involved(wink, wink) when the spotlight is on. i wouldn’t kick the cup out of bed by any means but unless it’s a series against a team that wants to skate and try to create something i think i might rather start trying to enjoy certain regular season matchups more for what they are without always looking ahead to ‘da playoffs’.

      i know that comes off pretty wimpy but the chances are slim in the west of meeting a team that doesn’t use ‘death by smothering’ as its preferred kill method. and it’s really not much fun to watch.

      maybe the league is evolving, becoming again more like its big brother soccer where certain rivalries throughout the year are what fans look forward to.

      AV has the pretty systems. so as long as he’s coach hopefully we’ll still get a few real hockey games every year. get a dale hunter to win the cup? no thanks. i’ll go with the guy who’s already delivered the creative hockey goods. and if a cup comes from it well…it would be neat:)

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      • akidd
        May 24, 2012

        nicely put again, mt. keep those well-written posts coming. i may have to retract some of my previous statements. i just read that AV is battling MG to play ‘kings’ hockey’. argh. they’re talking about getting bigger which just reminds me too much of keenan’s stated philosophy when he was here, showing canuck fans what the bottom of the barrel truly looks like.

        i’m not saying it wouldn’t be effective but it just won’t be pretty. and with the sedins as the first line i really wonder how kingsy it can be. i knew that gillis was the agent of change that got AV away from his trapping ways but i thought there was a minimum of kicking and screaming.

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    • sox/canucks fan
      May 23, 2012

      Gillis would of course have processed all of this kind of thinking (and all of the coaching possibilities) for the last month. He would’ve had to deal with (I’m guessing here) some pretty upset owners. Talked them down from reacting. Probably argued that there is no better option than a proven, still effective coach, right now.

      The counter argument goes: throw the dice! Hire a new guy that will light a fire under some feet. Maybe. I get Botchford’s shtick, but one cannot logically argue, despite the weak division, that two consecutive Presidents’ trophies scream “lost the room.”

      I like the decision, and I like, if purely on aesthetic grounds, the hope for the survival of offensive hockey. Now the real work begins. Give Vigneault a bigger skilled third and fourth line that isn’t injury-prone (Gillis brought in lots of applicants for the role, but did any stick? Not that I can name), and see if they can develop Kassian. Noble challenges that Vigneault seems entirely passionate about.

      You heard his interview today I hope. Did that sound like someone who could care less? That would be happy to just drop into Montreal? He wants it here.

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    • tj
      May 24, 2012

      Mt, you had me at ‘the whole cup-entitlement in vancity is silly’. To me, it’s like the younger brother who’s so jealous that his big brother ‘gets everything’ he resorts to whinging ceaselessly that it’s his turn now. All the backlash this year makes Canucks fans look like spoiled children, whether or not they’re *undeserving* spoiled children is another matter for a different discussion. A part of me doubts they’ll even be happy with a SC win. They will in the moment, but after that thrill wears off, it’ll be back to whinging about something else.

      Nevertheless, I look forward to some good hockey next year, and lots of surprises and drama along the way.

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  11. Brian
    May 23, 2012

    This makes tons of sense logically but since *when* are hockey coaching decisions made by logic!?! ;)

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  12. Mack
    May 23, 2012

    Kind of facetious Harrison. So when is it appropriate to make a change? Do we have to wait until he has a losing all-time record with the team?

    And if the team regresses or continues the regression from last season, you think they should only consider making a change? Why don’t they just make him coach for life then.

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    • BedBeats
      May 23, 2012

      Jeeze Louise, don’t be so daft.

      Stoked AV is staying put.

      The best part about the anti-AV set is that they never have anything tangible to say about why they dislike him.

      I love posting Linden’s answer to “Who was your fave coach to play for?” on CDC. If you ever have seen the clip, he does not mention Quinn.

      They think that “…the Canucks will win a Cup in spite of him.” Huh?! Pro sports teams have that on their to-do list?!

      Me?! I like when the team wins. And they have been doing a lot of that with AV.

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      • Mack
        May 23, 2012

        Forgot I was posting on a Vancouver Sun website, they’re pretty blindingly pro-AV. I neither hate him or love him. I just don’t think he’s god’s gift to coaching like some people do.

        The main reason I’m not sure he’s the right guy for the job is what happened during the latter half of this season. Not only did they completely change their style of play, they lacked any sort of motivation. All of a sudden he tried to get the team to play like a defensive one instead of the uptempo attacking team that they should be. It’s pretty clear it didn’t work, and if he goes with that style next season it’ll be absolutely the wrong direction. If he goes back to offence then I’m willing to give him a shot.

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        • BedBeats
          May 23, 2012

          Give the team another chance?!

          The team’s concept is offense. Review Gillis’ season end presser.

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        • Harrison Mooney
          May 23, 2012

          It’s funny you should say that, about the Vancouver Sun being pro-AV. We don’t really have that much contact with the other writers, so I can assure you that there’s no collusion among us to put on a united front on this issue. But I can’t argue the point. The Sun and the Province have wound up coming down on either side when it comes to AV.

          I’d argue that a lot of this is because a few writers over there have been unreasonably anti-AV, so we look unreasonably pro-AV by comparison. The truth is that I don’t think he’s God’s gift to coaching and there are a lot of things he doesn’t do well. However, I think he’s an excellent coach, the best possible option for this team at this time, and that the movement to fire him is irrational. That’s all.

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          • pooroldbear
            May 23, 2012

            CONSPIRACY ALERT. PITB secretly being controlled by pro-AV faction. Harrison and Daniel are puppets, merely puppets. (Or is it Daniel and Harrison? Yes, Daniel and Harrison.)

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          • Ginormous Fan
            May 24, 2012

            Yeah, hard to upgrade someone as good as AV. Every coach has pluses and minuses and are obvious lightening rods for criticism of the team. The great thing about AV is that he has a system that works in different types of games, defensive or run and gun. I think that if we had had Danny from the beginning of the Kings series (and Schneider in net), we might have won that one. The Kings probably found the Canucks the hardest challenge so far.

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        • akidd
          May 23, 2012

          the reason they didn’t play well the last half of the season is …(drum roll)…fatigue. not glamourous or finger-pointy but it works.

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        • Tom
          May 24, 2012

          i for one appreciate that, though you disagree with AV overall, you have supported your argument and expressed it well. soooo… thanks!

          the other way is what we usually see in province and sun comments, 4 or 5 guys constantly bad mouthing the usual suspects.

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    • Misha
      May 23, 2012

      Who said Vancouver did NOT consider making a change? I am sure Gillis considered it, decided that it was an inferior option (correctly, in my opinion), and gave him an extension instead.

      People have this weird idea that AV should be “punished” for the Canucks losing in the first round. Even if we were to accept the argument that it WAS his fault for the loss (which I do not), what does “punishment” get you? Everyone makes mistakes, and even if this was his, it in no way implies that he’s a worse coach or not the best option for us going forward.

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      • Frank N.
        May 23, 2012

        And besides, even if it was not his fault, the Canucks this year were never going to go deep. Too many issues with injuries, power play “malfunction” and general lethargic play. At least, that is how it all looked to me.

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  13. Andrew
    May 23, 2012

    Vigneault, much like his players, is likely using the off-season to refresh, study tape and come back with a new enthusiasm and new tools to help him win the cup. He’s certainly shown in his time here that he’s willing to change and adapt and if the complaints of the fanbase are legitimate weaknesses of his, he’s shown a willingness to address them and improve. That makes him a relatively unique coach in the NHL which likely separates him a bit from other long tenured coaches who keep delivering the same “stale” message.

    Also, Barry Trotz has been with the Preds for a long time and they just keep getting better.

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    • Lenny
      May 23, 2012

      I will chip in and say that AV has lead our team from a trap team to what we have here today. I’m sure after losing 2 playoff rounds, 8 playoff games in pretty much the same manner the coaching staff and management will address and adapt.

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  14. Dan D
    May 23, 2012

    I think that alot of fans operate by something like this standard: “If the coach has some minor quirk I don’t like (such as line-juggling), and hasn’t yet won the cup with the team (like many coaches around the league), it’s not worth all the wins and success.”

    Brilliant logic.

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    • BedBeats
      May 23, 2012

      AV has never been the team’s de facto problem. Never really has been.

      All coaches juggle lines.

      Obviously Peter DeBoer should be fired for juggling his lines because the Devil’s didn’t even show up for the last game……….wait a sec.

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      • Dan D
        May 23, 2012

        Haha well put!

        You got me thinking about what the “de facto problem” was this last season. Some years you can really nail one thing that needs to improve, but this year I don’t think you can. it’s hard to really pin down one issue.

        Therefore, I suggest that the Canucks’ problem last year was Malaise.

        Ask Jimmy Carter about it. He’ll tell you it’s a real team (and nation) killer.

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  15. Josh
    May 23, 2012

    Supercoach J. Instantcup, Bwaha, a true lol.

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  16. John Andress
    May 23, 2012

    Sanity prevails. Thank heavens!

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  17. Misha
    May 23, 2012

    You’re suggesting change for the sake of change, without any rationalizing why that change may bring improvement. I don’t agree with this approach. Is AV a great coach? Yes. Has he “lost the dressing room”? No.

    I like what Gillis is doing – he’s PLANNING the team he thinks can win, not making knee-jerk moves and HOPING they work out.

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  18. mac n cheese
    May 23, 2012

    “Supercoach J. Instantcup”

    THE BEST. Thank you.

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  19. Rob
    May 23, 2012

    Cooler heads have prevailed. Yay. Now we look forward to a summer of the boys at 1040 sulking in their indignant falsettos.

    ‘Him and his coaching staff have to work to win back the room’

    ‘He has to find a way to stop Kesler from playing so individual.’

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  20. Karen
    May 23, 2012

    It took me about 4 years to warm up to AV and support his coaching style. I think he is a great coach. I think he’s smart and engaged in not just the Canucks but in knowledge of the league and other teams. He is the best coach we’ve had. He is the cutest – and his giggles along make me want him to stay. BUT, here’s my question. Whose responsibility is it to put the “fire in the belly” of the team. The players are professionals – they should be able to shake off the “malaise” and play 60 minutes of intense “we want to win” hockey; however, it seems that has been the Achilles’ heel in the last few seasons. Who or what makes a team fight every second of the game to win; not to lay back and let poorer team beat them or have to suddenly put on their A game in the last period.

    I love the Canucks – loved most of the season – have no specific individual complaints – but the one thing that makes me go crazy is when it appears they aren’t playing like men possessed. Obviously no team can play that way every game, but the Canucks should be doing it a lot more.

    I’m sure it was hard coming back this year after a short break, the disappointment, the expectations but that’s the job. Alex Burrows got to pay for Team Canada this year because he has never stopped trying to get better and generally gives it his all every game. (Although yes, the occasional relapse into diving or agitating sneaks up), he is playing to win – playing to be better – playing because he loves it and knows he is living the dream. How do we get that spirit into the rest of the players.

    PS: Shout out to Danny and Hank. Love them, love their leadership, love their skill and showmanship. (Just stop with the stupid penalties. If you are sitting out for 2, make it for something worthwhile :)

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  21. Snepsts
    May 23, 2012

    I think Gillis and AV are a great combo. The Canucks’ defense, however, and the defensive line juggling are still an issue. The power play was an enormous issue, as this blog pointed out, mainly due to its predictability. We also do not have a solid fore-checking second line. Finally, the lack of a fourth line in the abbreviated playoffs was an issue. Gillis, AV and the press say the overall issue was a mental problem. I disagree – I think that we need a defensive leader, like Weber or Doughty. Someone young who scores goals from the point and plays a tight physical game. Someone who scares the other team. We also need forwards who can hit clean and fore-check. The Sedins are great when they fight on the boards, and with puck possession, but we need a fore-checking line – not just a checking line. A hitting line that scores goals. I think the experimentation with the fourth line has got to stop – the Canucks need to let a fourth line gel early next season. Teams who win the cup have a strong and dependable fourth line. One more solid D-man and a new philosophy for the second line might fix it for the Canucks – all we saw last season was second line forwards all trying to do it all by themselves, and it got old really fast.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)
  22. APCanucks7
    May 24, 2012

    Overall I feel AV has done an outstanding job and he deserves the chance to win at least one more time. However after today’s developments over his comments on Kesler’s injury, I think they really need to muzzle his comments on medical issues. He didn’t learn after calling out Willie Mitchell a few years ago about toughness, then having Mitchell himself reveal that he was playing with fractured vertabrae in his back. Then the whole Cody making excuses about his back, when really he knows he should have played better and is just upset about being cut. Finally saying Kesler playing with torn labrum in his shoulder shouldn’t be used as an excuse for his poor season. Let’s see, how could a bad shoulder affect the task of shooting a puck with enough velocity and accuracy to beat NHL level goaltending?? Yup not much. Seriously did ‘Dr. AV’ go to the same medical school as ‘Dr. Recchi’ ????

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)