Some called the Canucks’ visit to Minnesota on Sunday the biggest game of the season. I guess it was, although it seems silly to call a game where the worst-case scenario is a tie for first place with 24 games remaining all that big. But you can understand how Vancouver fans, who aren’t used to the Canucks even being in a game for first place in the division, might make it out to be a bigger deal than it was. At the halfway point in the season, a dogfight for first in the Northwest is like seeing a shooting star. You want to make a wish on it.
For many, that wish was for the Canucks to put in a dominating performance and really re-assert their superiority over the Wild. But instead, they hardly showed up.
Who is to blame for this no-show? Alain Vigneault, says the chorus that’s been calling for Vigneault’s head ever since he lost the Stanley Cup Final he coached the team to in 2011 like a sap. He’s bad at his job, they say, which is why he’s yet to win one of those championships he always has his team contending for.
So is it time for a breakup? On Monday, Thomas Drance tackled this question the same way Ross tried to decide between Julie and Rachel in classic Friends episode “The one with the list”: he made a list, examining Alain Vigneault’s pros and cons. The problem is that Drance’s list was woefully incomplete. So we’ve decided to make our own:
PRO - Wins a lot.
But sometimes loses! What a hack!
CON - Establishes unreal expectations by winning a lot.
Did he learn nothing from Icarus? Stay the middle course, you fool!
PRO – Skilled at dressing himself.
You laugh, but Darryl Sutter exists as a reminder that it’s not as easy as it looks. Look at this abomination of a sweater:
Also more difficult than you’d expect: fist pumps.
CON – While skilled at dressing self, less skilled at dressing Keith Ballard.
Although, in Vigneault’s defence, it’s probably frustrating continually dressing somebody that keeps getting undressed. It’s like, keep your clothes on, already. I’ve got other things to do today.
PRO – Infectious laugh.
In this clip, Alain Vigneault finds the notion that Kyle Wellwood played like a man possessed hilarious which turns out to be also hilarious:
My favourite part is when the guy tries to rationalize his question. Well, he was hitting a lot. Listen, bud, this is a Kyle Wellwood gif that surfaced on Monday:
Yeah. If Kyle Wellwood is possessed, the demon is exhausted.
CON – Infectious, yes, but perhaps too infectious. It once infected him.
Pull yourself together, Vigneault.
PRO – Revolutionized zone deployment strategies.
Vigneault wasn’t the first coach to think of deploying his defensive players in the defensive zone and his offensive players in the offensive zone. But the strictness with which he employed the approach, especially in 2010-11 when he had the personnel to really do it, has completely changed the way coaches use their players in the modern NHL.
CON – Hasn’t revolutionized anything in, like, two years.
As Janet (Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty) once said, “What have you done for me lately?”
PRO – Singlehandedly keeps the gum and lozenge companies afloat.
He consumes a lot of gum and lozenges, is what I’m saying.
CON – Consumes gum and lozenges during press conferences, filling them with smacking sounds and the clacking of hard candy against teeth.
PRO – Reaches out to bloggers.
Not just by relying on possession data or giggling in ways that will go viral, either. Vigneault spent the entire lockout living in his parents’ basement, which pretty much makes him the Dian Fossey of the blogosphere.
CON – Hates young players.
Young players never thrive in Alain Vigneault’s system. Cody Hodgson, for instance, didn’t thrive at all except for that brief period where he was totally thriving thanks to Vigneault’s system but nevermind about that. And Zack Kassian and Jordan Schroeder are currently being treated unfairly, in that when they struggle, they aren’t kept in the top six just because. What sort of coach expects his players to continually earn their opportunities? A crappy one.
PRO – Can’t control time, and thus can’t keep players young forever.
Thankfully, Vigneault can’t prevent his players from getting less young as time goes on, and some players have managed to survive his harsh prejudice and age into skilled veterans, at which point his baseless biases fall away and he has no choice but to play them. For instance, Ryan Kesler was a young player in Vigneault’s first year. With no help whatsoever from Vigneault, he aged into an award-winning superstar. Similarly, Alex Burrows’ first full season was under Vigneault, but he was steeled from years in the ECHL, so Vigneault’s hatred of young players was nothing to him. Ditto for Alex Edler, Jannik Hansen, Kevin Bieksa, Cory Schneider, Mason Raymond, and more recently, Chris Tanev, who probably tricked Vigneault by saying “he went to college” and then letting Vigneault assume that meant for more than one year and that Tanev was three years older than he is.
Or I guess the other option is that Vigneault’s core is built largely of young players he developed into stars so the “can’t develop young players” criticism doesn’t make any damn sense. Vigneault’s worst crime is expecting his players to earn and wait for plum opportunities and then make the most of them, rather than being handed the best roles right away. This is really no different from any other workplace, but somehow, Vigneault refining his players, rounding out their games and chipping away at their immaturity is deemed bad coaching now.
CON – Loses the room all the time.
Or at least that’s what everyone always says. Typical Vigneault, always losing the room. It’s in the same place as before, Alain! You’ve been here seven years and rooms don’t move.
PRO – Always manages to find it.
Alain Vigneault never gives up on a room.
CON – Insists on awkwardly shaking the players’ hands after winning the division title.
So awkward.Tags: Alain Vigneault, Blogs are for lists, Questionable Comedic Content