Earlier this morning, Harrison asked just how long Mike Gillis was going to drag out the decision on what to do with Alain Vigneault. Apparently the answer was “this long.” Louis Jean from Quebec outlet TVA reports that Vigneault, along with associate coach Rick Bowness and assistant Newell Brown, has been fired by the Canucks.
I, for one, am shocked.
Source says Alain Vigneault, Rick Bowness and Newell Browne have been fired by Vancouver Canucks.
— Louis Jean (@LouisJean_TVA) May 22, 2013
Okay, I’m not the least bit shocked. This was a move that we all saw coming. While Vigneault has been one of the best coaches in Canucks history and certainly the most successful one, two straight first round exits, the second coming in a 4-game sweep, will inevitably lead to changes.
If this report is true, then it looks like Gillis is making a clean sweep of the coaching staff behind the bench, retaining only behind-the-scenes coaches like video guy Darryl Williams and goaltending coach Rollie Melanson. Of course, it’s entirely possible that they’ll be next under the knife, but since they’re not the public face of the coaching staff, it’s not all that necessary to fire them if they’re doing a good job.
That’s the thing, really: Vigneault was still doing a good job. Despite the oddities of the 48-game schedule and the challenges of having no second or third line center to start the season, Vigneault still coached the Canucks to yet another Northwest Division title. He certainly made some decisions that left many people scratching their heads and there are plenty of things that I and many others wish he had done differently, but it was still a successful regular season coach.
The playoffs, however, were a different animal, and the Canucks never looked fully prepared for what the San Jose Sharks had to offer. Some of the responsibility for that has to fall on the head coach and ultimately, it was enough to cost Vigneault his job.
It’s not surprising that Bowness is out with Vigneault, considering how long they’ve worked together. Their connection goes back to when Bowness was the head coach of the Ottawa Senators and Vigneault was one of his assistants. The two may continue to work together in the future, as Vigneault is unlikely to be unemployed for long and may bring Bowness as an assistant to wherever he is hired next.
That said, Bowness was a likely candidate to be fired in any case. The defence was his responsibility and the Canucks were frequently a gong show in their own end this season.
The same can be said for Brown, who was brought in two seasons ago as a powerplay specialist and saw immediate returns. This season, however, the powerplay was an absolute disaster, converting on just 15.8% of their opportunities and finishing 22nd in the league. Add in the bizarre personnel deployment decisions, like playing Daniel Sedin on the point in lieu of Jason Garrison and it seemed like Brown had exhausted his bag of tricks with this group.
Still, it’s sad to see all three go, as memories of the magnificent 2011 season are still fresh in my mind. They deserve credit for the work they did in Vancouver and the next coaching staff of the Canucks will have a lot to live up to.
It’s official: the Canucks have fired Vigneault, Bowness, and Brown.
“We have made the very difficult decision to relieve Alain Vigneault, Rick Bowness and Newell Brown of their coaching duties today,” said Canucks President and General Manager, Michael D. Gillis. “Alain, Rick and Newell worked tirelessly to lead this team to great on-ice success. I am personally grateful to each of them and their families for their commitment to the Canucks and the city of Vancouver and wish them continued success in future.”
UPDATE PART DEUX:
Alain Vigneault released an official statement after the announcement of his firing. It’s pretty great.
Tags: Alain Vigneault, Mike Gillis, Newell Brown, Rick Bowness
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Aquilini family, Mike Gillis, Lorne Henning, Laurence Gilman, Stan Smyl, Victor de Bonis and the entire management, scouting, training and front office staff with the Vancouver Canucks. The past seven years have been an honour for me to coach and work for a great franchise in a wonderful Canadian city. To work in a city with such passionate and loyal fans is a privilege – I enjoyed every moment of it.
I am grateful to Dave Nonis and Steve Tambellini for the opportunity they provided me eight years ago. Over the past seven years, I have made many good friends in Vancouver and had the chance to coach quality players who cared deeply about their profession and were committed to winning. I am grateful to the players and their families for the sacrifice and dedication they showed in an effort to be the best they could be. Watching as many of our players started families, became fathers and grew as men, on and off of the ice, was equally rewarding.
To Rick Bowness, Newell Brown, Rollie Melanson and Darryl Williams – I say thank you for your tireless effort every day – I am grateful for your friendship and dedication. You should all be very proud of your achievements.
I am proud of many of the things we accomplished as a group these past seven seasons in Vancouver and only wish we were able to win the Canucks first Stanley Cup. I am a career coach and it is what I love to do. I hope to coach again in this League and will always have good memories of my time and the fans in Vancouver.