Pros and cons of Alain Vigneault: a way better list than the lame one that other blog did

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.

It’s unpleasant.

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.

CONInsists on awkwardly shaking the players’ hands after winning the division title.

So awkward.

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20 comments

  1. JDM
    March 12, 2013

    You guys should just have some sort of standoff on youtube, blog vs. blog.

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    Rating: +12 (from 12 votes)
  2. Unknown Comic
    March 12, 2013

    But my self-esteem is buoyed when knocking a very successful person down a few pegs.

    So, I’ll ignore the sense located within this piece and declare again, Vigneault needs to go and I should be the coach!

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    Rating: +17 (from 17 votes)
    • Harrison Mooney
      March 12, 2013

      You’re wrong. Vigneault needs to go and I should be the coach!

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      Rating: +12 (from 14 votes)
      • Brent
        March 12, 2013

        No Thomas Drance should be the coach, he has numbers to back up his outlandish claims…… which I guess makes them un-outlandish-like.

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        Rating: +16 (from 18 votes)
        • Bolderevolution
          March 12, 2013

          I’ve had nothing to say on here for 2 weeks until “un-outlandish-like”. Thank you for that awesome word.

          It makes me wonder if it’s a synonym for “land”, and pondering that is more satisfying than pondering this team right now.

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          • Brent
            March 12, 2013

            Thank you, english is like a second language for me.

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      • Tom 1040
        March 12, 2013

        I thought you said I should be the coach!

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        Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  3. J21 (@Jyrki21)
    March 12, 2013

    In all seriousness, I would absolutely hire Drance or Charron as consultants if I were running an NHL operation. I’m kind of surprised they haven’t been Bill Jamesed be now. I thought people finally caught on that this stuff matters.

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    • Unknown Comic
      March 12, 2013

      I also have alot of self-esteem wrapped into my belief I am a knowledgable hockey fan. When Drance and/or Charron prove with evidence that my opinion is wrong, well then my self-esteem demands that I ridicule what I don’t understand.

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      Rating: +10 (from 10 votes)
      • Bolderevolution
        March 12, 2013

        In that case, I suggest you call it “un-outlandish-like”.

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        Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)
    • cam charr0n
      March 12, 2013

      never an nhl team, but i have been contacted by agents.

      some of the more data-heavy analytics writers consult for nhl teams

      i can’t say anything more

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      Rating: +6 (from 6 votes)
  4. kevbo
    March 12, 2013

    too funny.

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  5. Chris the Curmudgeon
    March 12, 2013

    So is a “pros and cons of Mike Gillis” forthcoming? Because I can think of a few cons that start with the word “traded”.

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  6. betty
    March 12, 2013

    `Enjoyed it all. Well done!

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    Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
  7. Chris the Curmudgeon
    March 12, 2013

    When are guys going to stop beating around the bush and declare a full-on Blog War? Drance is like a traitorous secessionist, and I don’t know if I approve of this extended period of detente, I’d like to hear some drum beating.

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    Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
  8. obituary mambo
    March 12, 2013

    Fan-freaking-tastic! Every word is pure gold.

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    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  9. Wagman
    March 12, 2013

    Internal fighting amongst Canucks blogs!?! The team must be playing poorly.

    Here’s to the team turning it around, so we can beat the drums against the real opponents: Blackhawks, Kings, Bruins…

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    Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
  10. chinook
    March 12, 2013

    At first I groaned when this looked to be a repeat of Drance’s post but quickly turned to delight with your tack. Humour works wonders.

    Seems you left many juicy topics on the shelf for a sequel – AV vignette on HNIC (prompting Schneider’s impersonation), goalie management with 2-headed coins.

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  11. TestingTesting
    March 13, 2013

    Oh man, everytime I see that video, the handshakes get even more awkward.

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  12. BBoone
    March 14, 2013

    I agree with the basic idea that AV is a top tier coach and that you will never find a perfect one.
    That being said, I think you can hold AV more accountable for not being better at getting the best out of some players that are / were important assets to the Canucks either because they are high draft picks or because they take up a lot of cap space.

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