What type of coach should the Canucks hire?

To the surprise of absolutely no one — save Rick Bowness, whose dismissal leaked before Mike Gillis could get ahold of him and wound up being fired by his own daughter — the Canucks blew up their coaching staff on Wednesday. Bowness, Newell Brown, and most notably, head coach Alain Vigneault were all let go.

As we said earlier this month, the decision made sense now. I’m of the mind that it didn’t last year, and Mike Gillis said the same again at the post-firing presser. “After the previous season, we thought it might have been an anomaly,” he explained, in regards to retaining Vigneault after the Kings ran them out of the playoffs in 2012. That’s reasonable. Kneejerk reactions based on small postseason samples are a terrible way to run a hockey team, since the postseason is full of anomalies. Jonathan Toews and Tyler Seguin are both goalless this postseason, for instance. Is that just an anomaly or are they unable to get it done in the clutch? Has Jonathan Toews, former Conn Smythe winner, forgotten how to do hockey in the playoffs? Probably not.

So yes, the decision made sense now. Ignore the people claiming they’ve been calling for Vigneault’s head for years and years and now they are finally proven to have been right all along. Nah. They’ve been wrong for years and years. They became right a month ago. They became right after a second consecutive first-round exit, complete with zero home ice wins in either first-sound series. At that point, a dismissal made absolute sense to everybody. Even Rick Bowness heard his daughter’s words and was like, “Yeah, I figured.”

And now we look forward. The Canucks are still a team on the cusp, a veteran group that may still be in their window, and it’s going to take the right type of coach to get them over the hump. But what type of coach is that? Thursday morning on the Team 1040, the hosts polled listeners with the following three options: the fresh face, the second-chancer, and the NHL proven guy. But those aren’t the only options — not even close. Let’s take a look at those and more.

THE FRESH FACE

How about a guy like Dallas Eakins, head coach of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies? He’s a name that’s always on these shortlists. The upside is that he brings a lot of new ideas and, hopefully, an original voice to the table.

Really, the only thing holding him back from getting any NHL experience is his lack of NHL experience. That’s one downside. For a veteran club like the Canucks, you worry that a hip, handsome, young coach won’t have the same effect on them that he’d have on, say, a bunch of kids. Plus if the goal here is to go far in the postseason, hiring a coach that’s never been in that situation is always a risk.

THE SECOND CHANCER

At one time, perhaps he was a bright young star, but that star has since faded. Think of a guy like Marc Crawford.

I mean, sure, he was the last guy before Vigneault, but things are different now, and if you want the Canucks playing a more run and gun style, maybe Crawford can get back in the game, rediscover the things that made him successful the first time around, and coax a few more timely goals out of this veteran group?

THE NHL PROVEN

You want experience? He’s got it. He’s been around for years, and he’s had success. Think of a guy like Lindy Ruff, who’s been in this business since earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

He’s had some success, he’s a guy the veterans will listen to, and you know what you’re getting from him. But coaches are like players, and they aren’t immune from aging out of this business. It’s possible the game has surpassed his approach.

THE DEVOURER OF WORLDS

You want a guy that commands a room? How about the guy that commands entire galaxies, not to mention the Silver Surfer? If you can get through to the Silver Surfer, you can get through to Ryan Kesler, the Canucks’ silver centre.

Forget bag skates. If you don’t show up to play for Galactus, he will DEVOUR YOUR WORLD. That’s some motivation right there. The downside, of course, is that he constantly hungers and must feed regularly or he starves to death and the universe ends. So it’ll be tough to get him to stick around for an entire season.

THE VERY TALL MAN THAT MIGHT BE TWO OR THREE KIDS IN AN OVERCOAT

Your gut says go with him. He’s very tall, after all, and tall people tend to command respect.

But there’s something else about him that doesn’t seem right. You ask him his name. “Mister…” he says, looking around, then suddenly, “Tallman.” You think you hear his midsection complaining about how heavy he is. It’s all very suspicious.

THE PENGUIN

Who’s the team everyone wants to emulate these days? The penguins. You know who’s sure to follow their model? An actual penguin. Hell, they took it from him!

He’ll have to stand on a box to see the play, of course, and he’ll probably never get along with Fin. But such is the cost of winning.

THE GUY WHO SORT OF LOOKS LIKE ALAIN VIGNEAULT, BUT WITH WORSE HAIR

He’s got NHL experience.

But seriously, Jack Capuano, if you can’t manage your hair better than that, I don’t want you managing my favourite hockey team.

THE TIME-TRAVELLING TEENAGER

The fans coach entirely in hindsight. Why can’t the coach? Get a guy, say, a Marty McFly type, who has access to a time machine and a sports almanac from the future. He’ll know what works and what doesn’t. Plus he’s got moxie and gumption and he once kissed his own mom. That takes commitment.

The downside, of course, is if you call him chicken, he’ll do just about anything you want. If Dale Weise figures this out, he’ll exploit Coach McFly’s fatal character flaw to get on the first-unit powerplay.

THE DARK KNIGHT

You want innovation? This guy’s got it. Plus he’s Batman, which is a positive.

The downside, of course, is that trouble tends to follow him. Also he’s never been very good with the media.

THE BELOVED SINGING SPACE COMMANDER

Is there anything he can’t do? Of course he can do this. He’s Chris freaking Hadfield.

There is no downside. Hadfield for coach.

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39 comments

  1. Rachael
    May 23, 2013

    Jack Capuano is perfect for the job because he looks like both Alain Vigneault AND an actual penguin.

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    • puckbob
      May 25, 2013

      Don Cherry

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  2. Paul Malon
    May 23, 2013

    Brilliant! One of your funniest columns.

    However, regarding Dallas Eakins: when Mike Babcock was coaching a farm team, and approached Ken Holland, saying that he wanted to coach the Wings, he was told “I don’t hire apprentices”. The next year, Babcock was Anaheim’s coach. The Ducks eliminated the Wings, and shortly thereafter Ken Holand hired Babcock.

    At least that’s what I’ve read. Cheers!

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  3. jrc
    May 23, 2013

    That’s COMMANDER Chris Hadfield. Cmdr. Col.(ret.) Coach Hadfield has a nice authoritative ring to it.

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  4. Rob
    May 23, 2013

    IMO with a vetern group like the Canucks you want an experienced coach who has been around the block, who knows what buttons to push to motivate the players to be better, and who has the best track record of who is available. Only one coach who is available right now who fits that mold and thats Ruff. Sure he’s had a tough couple of years in Buffalo but that was a toxic environment. His record in Buffalo speaks for itself and unless somebody from years passed comes out of the woodwork or Mike Babcock suddenly decides he doesnt want to coach the Red Wings anymore Ruff looks to be the best available candidate for the job. But who knows, the Aquillini family might throw some absurd amount of money out there to lure in a coach who would have otherwise said no thanks.

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    • Kyle
      May 23, 2013

      Ruff is a terrible coach and you should feel bad you even suggested.

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      • Rob
        May 23, 2013

        I never said he was a great coach but unfortunatlely he is the best available. Do you really want to see an inexperienced NHL coach behind the bench of a team that has cup expectations? I dont. I want a coach that has been around the block and knows how to coach at the NHL level. So unless MG / Aquillini family pulls a rabit out of their hat and can coax another coach away from his current team it’s either going to be Ruff or some guy with no NHL coaching experience.

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        • Dissin' Terry
          May 24, 2013

          Ruff is a defense first coach, ala, AV. Take a look how that ended last year. Blysma was a coach with 0 NHL experience and won his Cup in his first year. The Canucks have a Cup contending team with the right voice. I say hire an offensive minded out of the box new guy, who other coaches aren’t as familiar with, and will have a harder time predicting his systems. I’d suggest Eakins, but we all know the Nucks won’t have the guts for that.

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  5. akidd
    May 23, 2013

    oh, i get it now. it’s a joke post. crawford! very funny guys!

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    • Zach Morris
      May 23, 2013

      I was very worried until I saw Galactus.
      Then, my fear that Gillis would hire a Big Bad coach like Crawford was reductio’d ad absurdium.

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  6. Dave
    May 23, 2013

    Wanted: A couch for a team (and two adorable twins)

    If you want this choice position
    Have a cheery disposition
    Rosy cheeks, — no warts!
    Win games, of the playoff sorts

    You must be kind, you must be witty
    Create plays sweet and fairly pretty
    On the powerplay, and zone entries
    Make the PK — just a breeze

    Never be cross or cruel
    Help us win — our hockey pool
    Love young players, good or bad
    no matter if you hate their dad

    If you won’t lose and disappoint us
    We will never give you cause to hate us
    We won’t curse your strange accent
    Or argue which goalie
    Put toads in your bed
    Or treat you like we did AV
    Hurry, coach!
    Many thanks
    Sincerely,

    Vancouver Canucks — Fans

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  7. Marcus
    May 23, 2013

    I cracked up when I saw Galactus! Great article, guys

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  8. Chris the Curmudgeon
    May 23, 2013

    You know, Crawford wouldn’t be that bad of an option, seriously. Todd Bertuzzi is long gone, and he’d generally have a much better group of players than he did last time, plus probably a better locker room too. Only thing is that he’s too doghouse-y.

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  9. TheWellwoods
    May 23, 2013

    But Col. Hadfield is a Leafs fan!

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  10. Nee
    May 23, 2013

    ” You think you hear his midsection complaining about how heavy he is. It’s all very suspicious.”

    Haha, I love you guys.

    Seriously though, Cmdr Hadfield has to be it. That smile. THAT MOUSTACHE.

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  11. ktownfan
    May 23, 2013

    You can pretty much rule out Eakins, or any other AHL coach or NHL assistant coach with no NHL head coaching experience or track record. Gillis bought himself 1 year of leeway to right the ship and I doubt he gambles that on an unproven coach.

    I think for sure he waits until after the playoffs end to see who else may be available. Rumors are swirling that if the WIngs oust the Hawks, Quenneville might just get the ax as well. Wouldn’t that just be a kick in the pants!

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  12. Kelvin Yu
    May 23, 2013

    We should totally hire batman. He could hide like grappling hooks in their sticks or rockets in their skates. It would be sweet.

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    • jrc
      May 24, 2013

      Oh, sure. Like we need to add “2 minutes for grappling hooking” to our reputation? Even just having Batman behind the bench, you know the refs will just assume the Sedins are grappling hooking, and then they’ll also start calling Dale “I just skate really fast” Weise for having rockets in his skates. Who knows what penalties they’ll invent for Kesler. No, we need a coach who exudes honesty, a paragon of fair play to help undo our unfairly garnered reputation. Perhaps a simple country hyperchicken lawyer for head coach?

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  13. Mike H.
    May 23, 2013

    I think some of those pictures were photoshopped.

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  14. Tom 1040
    May 23, 2013

    Daniel,

    Next time you see Gillis can you ask him to give the list of coaching options that he is considering?

    Then, we, the fans of your blog, can submit who we think Gillis will hire?

    Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

    I love being so positive and enthusiastic.

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    • Rituro
      May 23, 2013

      You were doing so well until the end. Progress is progress, though; keep at it. Unlearning troll tendencies takes a while. We all have faith in you. :)

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      • Tom 1040
        May 24, 2013

        Great! Thanks for the support.

        One thing though: What’s a troll?

        I assume your definition of a troll is someone who states an informed decision even in the face of a wall of homers who are rude and out-of-touch with reality and choose to lick Mike Gillis’ butt.

        Gee, that doesn’t sound like progress to me. Maybe it does to you though.

        Anyway, Daniel, you have met Mike Gillis in-person, haven’t you?

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  15. PB
    May 23, 2013

    It’s time to bring the Canucks 80s glory years to our coaching ranks. Some of our best coaches seem to be some of the worst players (see Vigneault, Alain; Crawford, Marc) so it only stands to reason that we should bring JJ Daigneault, Michel Petit or maybe Libor Polasek

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    • Daniel Wagner
      May 23, 2013

      Yes. I am fully on board with this plan.

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  16. Justin
    May 23, 2013

    I thought that this column was quality. After 40 plus years of hardship, I’m happy that Canuck fans like myself can still poke fun at ourselves.

    Also – we seem to be quite a knowledgeable bunch. 22 comments thus far and nobody has mentioned Ted Nolan…NOOOOOOO! The streak is broken.

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  17. Lenny
    May 24, 2013

    Someone who will do absolutely anything to win. Not someone who has a preference for ‘defensive’ hockey or ‘offensive’ hockey or ‘puck possession’ hockey.

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    • Amor de Cosmos
      May 24, 2013

      Anything? Are we talking Tonya Harding levels of anything, or just stuff that stays within the law, and what passes for rules in the NHL?

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      • Lenny
        May 24, 2013

        Adolf Hitler level of anything…

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    • jrc
      May 24, 2013

      Someone like… (has no one said this because they think it’ll jinx it as a real possibility?)
      Trevor Linden?
      I mean, he doesn’t fit the bill as a poor player becoming a good coach, but it has to be possible for a good player to become a good coach. It could happen, right? They always talked about Trevor having a future with the organization — here’s the chance! Roll out the YouTube pump-up videos and the online petitions: Linden for Coach!

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  18. Alex
    May 24, 2013

    Col. Hadfield please! Unlike AV he might just find a way to reach out to all the young dudes.

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    • jrc
      May 24, 2013

      I see what you did there. It is forgivable, assuming you were under pressure to make a punny comment.

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  19. Diehardnuck
    May 24, 2013

    Capuano looks like the lovechild of AV and Nonis.

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  20. Jason
    May 24, 2013

    I want Dallas Eakins solely because I just discovered he kinda looks like Dr Who (the previous one).

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  21. steveB
    May 24, 2013

    Having marvelled at his understanding of all aspects of hockey, I would nominate
    Tom 1040 to be the next Vancouver Canucks Head Coach.
    I’m planning the parade route in anticipation.

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    • Tom 1040
      May 25, 2013

      Thank you, steveB.

      Actually, I have already been nominated some time ago by the head of the Mooney cult. So, perhaps you could 2nd the nomination.

      But, unfortunately, I cannot accept.

      To be honest, I feel more comfortable at the GM level, which will be another vacancy in the Canucks’ organization as soon as Gillis quits, blaming the media on the way out, because he fails to make the playoffs next year.

      Why don’t you wait, watch and learn in the meantime.

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  22. Dane
    May 25, 2013

    Emilio Estevez

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  23. arjay
    May 27, 2013

    the odds of Trevor Linden ever doing anything more in hockey are almost non-existant. Remember Trev was the president of the NHL in the lock-out year. No Owner will ever allow him pas the front door.

    Also, Trev is making way too much money outside hockey with his building developments, a chain of fitness centres, spokesman for clearly contacts etc etc.

    Now, if he were political he would likely take the mayor’s office in a landslide!

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