Bet on Lindy Ruff to be the next Canucks head coach (or be smart and don’t)

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.

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19 comments

  1. Nee
    May 27, 2013

    I thought the-other-paper-who-shall-not-be-named was saying John Stevens, Assistant Coach in LA, was also a candidate?

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    • Daniel Wagner
      May 27, 2013

      I’m sure he is. But these were the only coaches that had odds.

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      • Nee
        May 27, 2013

        Ah okay. Forgot about that detail.

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  2. caley
    May 27, 2013

    One of the TSN Insiders had Vancouver interviewing Glen Gulutzan, as well.

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  3. peanutflower
    May 27, 2013

    I agree that Ruff is more of the same old same old. Get in with the new and new ideas! I wouldn’t want to have to look at Ruff’s irascible-looking face all the time lol. So not really an opinion based on any sound hockey sense, I admit it.

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  4. DanD
    May 27, 2013

    I would be very intrigued to see Tippett behind the bench, but you’re probably right about Phoenix keeping him.

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  5. RicardoB
    May 27, 2013

    Larry Robinson–sploosh.

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  6. Double A
    May 27, 2013

    The TSN ‘insider’ who claimed Gulutzan was a candidate for the job was Dreger and after his recent shoddy PR campaign for the Leafs/smear campaign against the Canucks at the trade deadline, I highly doubt he has the inside scoop!

    My bet is it comes down to Eakins or John Stevens and Stevens get its due to his great work with the D-core in LA.

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    • Matt
      May 27, 2013

      Canucks Army seemed to think that the Gulutzan reporting was credible, but that the Canucks were likely looking at him to fill one of the vacant Assistant Coach positions rather than Head Coach.

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  7. PB
    May 27, 2013

    I also think Ruff would be a bad choice. Does anyone know what his relationship with Kassian was? I hope it is Eakins or Arniel. I thought Arniel got a really bad deal in Columbus because, well, it’s Columbus. For those who are all over Gillis as GM, try having Scott Howson. Now there is some bad managing…

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  8. Lenny
    May 27, 2013

    No Guy Boucher at all, huh?

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    • Daniel Wagner
      May 27, 2013

      I’m really surprised that they didn’t give odds for his hiring. I’d consider him among the favourites.

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  9. Chris the Curmudgeon
    May 27, 2013

    I’d like to see Tippett or Robinson, personally. Tippett has a proven track record and could probably do wonders with a more talented roster than he currently has. Big Bird is also a proven coach and would have the cachet of being a star player and Cup winner of his own right, which instantly gives his voice extra weight. Eakins sounds like a heck of a coach, but if the Canucks really are entering a win immediately scenario it might be too much of a risk.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      May 27, 2013

      I’d love to see Robinson. His success as a head coach is very impressive, but it really seems like he’s more comfortable as an assistant.

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  10. Justin
    May 27, 2013

    I’ve always liked Ruff. I think that he would make a “smooth” transition as our coach. HEY YO!

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  11. BBoone
    May 27, 2013

    J. Hector Blake , if he is still available.

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  12. Tom 1040
    May 28, 2013

    I think Gillis should be the coach, GM and President.

    At least his ego is big enough to fill each position.

    And, …

    http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/52058-Alain-Vigneault-fired-for-GM-Mike-Gillis-mistakes.html

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  13. Aaron
    May 31, 2013

    Speaking of Ego’s I think Tom 1040 should apply! I would love to see how he does!

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    • Tom 1040
      May 31, 2013

      Gee Erron,

      Could you provide an example of what you mean?

      Also, in my humble opinion, I think when we all take guesses as to who will be the next coach, there is one very important consideration: Brand.

      Is the brand that Gillis sold to Aquilini still the same or is just making the playoffs the only brand consideration?

      I think that this is important.

      Sorry to go back on topic.

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