Do you want to bet on who will be the next head coach of the Vancouver Canucks? If so, you might have a gambling problem. You should probably seek help.
But if you still want to gamble on Mike Gillis’s big decision, you can. Sports gambling website Bovada.lv has released odds on the Canucks’ coaching decision, with Lindy Ruff the odds-on favourite.
(Actually, I lied: Bovada.lv appears to have removed the odds and option to bet on the next head coach of the Canucks from their website. I’m sure if you ask around, however, you’ll find someone to take your action, particularly if you actually do want to bet that Ruff will get hired. Nothing gets deleted permanently from the internet, however, and we have Bovada’s odds, courtesy of The Buffalo News.)
Let’s break down the odds and take stock of just how likely each candidate is to be hired:
Lindy Ruff – 2/1
Before he was fired, Lindy Ruff was the longest tenured coach in the NHL. Next came Barry Trotz with the Nashville Predators and, after him, Alain Vigneault. With both now out of work, Ruff is apparently the favourite to take over in Vancouver and has been repeatedly mentioned in rumours.
Except, according to Jason Botchford, the Canucks aren’t even considering Lindy Ruff as an option. Thank goodness. Ruff strikes me as a retread of Alain Vigneault: similar defensive systems with a bit more of a hard-nosed attitude and the same (supposed) issues with developing young talent. It doesn’t sound like he’s quite as forward-thinking, either. If Gillis is looking to move away from the Vigneault era — and for PR reasons, at least, he needs to — then going with Ruff would be the wrong move.
In any case, at those odds, Ruff is a bad bet. The Canucks might not even end up interviewing Ruff for the job, so having him as the favourite is ill-conceived.
Dallas Eakins – 5/2
Eakins has been hyped as the next big AHL-to-NHL head coaching success for a couple years now. He was passed over by his parent club, the Toronto Maple Leafs, when Brian Burke chose to go with his old friend (shocker!) Randy Carlyle instead. With the Leafs seeing unexpected success under Carlyle, his job is secure, which means Eakins needs to look elsewhere for potential NHL employment.
The Canucks have reportedly asked the Leafs for permission to speak to Eakins, which is a professional courtesy: Eakins has an out-clause in his contract with the Leafs organization that allows him to seek an NHL head coaching job for the 2013-14 season. He’s had very good results with the Marlies over the last couple seasons, both on the ice and in developing young talent.
If Gillis wants a new, younger voice guiding the Canucks, Eakins makes sense. The only issue from my point of view is that hiring a coach with no NHL head coaching experience is a risky move for a team with as much pressure to win now as the Canucks.
Dave Tippett – 5/2
Tippett’s contract with the Phoenix Coyotes is up this season, meaning he may be available for the Canucks. And, according to the Winnipeg Free Press’s Gary Lawless, Tippett is the Aquilini’s choice. Whether his sources within the Canucks organization are reliable or not is another question.
It may be a moot point: with the Coyotes GM, Don Maloney, re-upping in Phoenix long-term, it seems likely that he will make every effort to give Tippett a similar extension. Tippett has been able to grind out some impressive results with very little talent in Phoenix and, while it would be intriguing to see what he could do with a more talented roster, I’m guessing Maloney will want to keep him.
Scott Arniel – 9/1
Vigneault was an internal hire, getting promoted from coaching the Manitoba Moose, but I don’t think the Canucks will go the same direction this time around. Gillis has stated that Arniel is a candidate, but for him to suggest otherwise would be a slap in the face.
Arniel’s first stint as a head coach in the NHL was an utter disaster. To be fair, the Columbus Blue Jackets were already a lousy team and were still relying on Steve Mason to be a number one goaltender, but Arniel seemed to be in over his head. The Blue Jackets finished 13th in the Western Conference in his first season with the team. In his second season, the team got off to the worst start in franchise history, starting the season 2-12-1. That also happened to be the worst start by any NHL team in 19 years.
Tom Renney – 9/1
Renney is certainly a fine coach who experienced some success with the New York Rangers and he has history with the Canucks organization, but his most recent head coaching stint was with the Edmonton Oilers, guiding a young team to 15th and 14th place finishes in the Western Conference. Whatever you think of the Oilers’ roster, the optics of hiring Renney would be absolutely awful.
With Renney still in the playoffs as an assistant in Detroit, his name has been clear of the rumour mill. If the Canucks have interest, they won’t be able to speak to him until the Red Wings are knocked out.
Doug Houda – 12/1
While Houda hasn’t been specifically mentioned in connection with the Canucks, the Bruins assistant coach has been rumoured to be next in line for an NHL head coaching job. Houda coaches the defence in Boston, which has been very, very good, though it certainly helps to have good goaltending and Zdeno Chara.
Canucks fans likely wouldn’t mind recruiting the defensive architect that helped limit the Canucks to just 8 goals in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, but he’s also a major unknown. Again, since the Bruins are still in the playoffs, the Canucks have not yet been able to speak to him.
Larry Robinson – 12/1
Robinson was the head coach in New Jersey for two consecutive trips to the Stanley Cup Finals, winning in 2000. For the most part, however, Robinson has been an assistant coach and it’s entirely likely that is where he’s most comfortable. He joined the San Jose Sharks as an assistant this past season, coaching the defence and penalty kill.
With Robinson behind the bench, the Sharks penalty kill went from 29th in the league to 7th and have shown improvements in their defensive game as well. Very few people in the NHL know the position of defencemen better than Robinson and, with his pedigree, he could likely have any head coaching job he wants. The question is whether he wants the job or not.Tags: Canucks Coach Search, Lindy Ruff