Coach Hunt 2013: Is Mike Gillis taking too long to find his replacement?

Oilers’ General Manager Craig MacTavish originally went out shopping for an associate coach — a little first anniversary present for his man, Ralph Krueger. But, like a husband walking the mall in search of a gift for the wife, only to find himself drawn less to the jewelry stores and more to the family law offices on the second floor, MacTavish soon realized that what he really wanted was a divorce.

And so he fired up his Skype account and he fired Krueger in a flash. (It was a more fitting gift anyway. The first anniversary is the paper anniversary, so walking papers are more in line with the hierarchy than a shiny new associate.)

Now coachless, MacTavish did what any newly single man would do: he hit the market hard. Having keyed Dallas Eakins as his next target, and not long after hearing that Eakins had gone in for a second interview with the Vancouver Canucks and they might soon be getting serious, MacTavish sprung into action, got Eakins in the room, and made his best pitch.

When he left the room, Eakins was his. The next time Mike Gillis logged into Facebook, he saw that Eakins had changed his status to “in a relationship”, and then Eakins wouldn’t return any of his text messages, it was horrible.

Or something like that. In any case, if the Canucks were interested in Dallas Eakins to replace the recently-dismissed Alain Vigneault, he’s off the market. And now they have to look elsewhere.

For the time being, they’re left looking a little slow on the take, like Kevin McAllister arriving in the kitchen for dinner:

Yes, while Mike Gillis took his time, Craig MacTavish ate his pizza. Thomas Drance plays the role of a Pepsi-guzzling Fuller in this metaphor, exacerbating the situation for Gillis by wondering aloud if the coaching move showed “a hint of organizational analysis paralysis”.

While I love the term, since it rhymes and is gloriously cumbersome (much like the word “cumbersome” itself), it seems a touch on the dramatic side. While Eakins was the early front-runner — no one else had been given a second interview, at least that we’ve been made aware of — if he was officially Vancouver’s guy, they’d have offered him the position.

But they didn’t (that we know of), and not because they’re paralyzed, but because they have other candidates in the mix that are only just now become available. The first and, by all indications, foremost of these is John Stevens, the kitten-loving former Philadelphia Flyers coach that’s been with the Los Angeles Kings since 2010.

What might make him a better fit than Eakins? He has experience.

Not that Eakins will be a bad coach because he’s inexperienced, but you never know how someone’s going to react to their first time. You have to have time for that, and the Canucks, as constructed, are a little old for that scene.

If Stevens, not Eakins, was the Canucks’ first choice, then what’s the sense in choosing suitor number two before you even get to talk to suitor number one? There isn’t any.

And it’s not like Stevens is the only guy. Another name suddenly on the radar: Dan Bylsma, who could, conceivably, be dismissed in Pittsburgh as early as Wednesday, when Ray Shero is scheduled to address the media. If he becomes available, he skyrockets to the top of Gillis’s list.

I think it goes without saying that Bylsma would be a strong fit, but, as Tony Gallagher pointed out Tuesday, he even managed to strengthen his case when he met with the media after the Penguins’ playoff elimination. From The Province:

Dan Bylsma would indeed be the perfect coach for the Canucks if for no other reason than the fact he is already so well versed in goaltender controversies. He is able to say the most absurd things with a straight face, all brought about by some contract that was signed years ago forcing him to make a spectacle of himself.

Even though Marc-Andre Fleury cannot stop a beachball these days, Bylsma was able to stand in front of an assembled media throng and proclaim him the Penguins’ No. 1 goalie going forward, this after the guy looked like a kid trying to pick up his marbles in the schoolyard in his last two seasons of playoff play. And he managed to choke this out because Fleury has two more years at $5 million per left on his deal.

Tell us now, who better than to come in and assume the Roberto Luongo fiasco? Gillis has said he wants an experienced guy for this group. How could any coach more ably demonstrate his readiness for this job than with a performance like that?

Funny and true, that.

There’s a chance that Eakins was (or was about to become) the Canucks’ guy and they missed out on him by waiting to confirm it until they had interviewed another top candidate in Stevens — although if that’s the case, we’ll never know it. But the more likely story here is that the Canucks, unlike the Oilers, are comfortable taking a more patient approach, and the Eakins situation did nothing to dissuade them on that front.

Mike Gillis has earned some skepticism for playing the long game, what with the Roberto Luongo fiasco still ongoing. Why, Luongo wouldn’t even wish never-ending purgatory on a domestic worker:

 

Gillis’s recently-reported interview with John Tortorella does little to inspire confidence, either, although we would welcome Torts to Vancouver, because we run a comedy blog, and we run it from the safety of our homes, for the most part.

But in this case, if Gillis’s patience nets him John Stevens or Dan Bylsma, I don’t think he, or anybody else, will mind him taking his time.

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31 comments

  1. Tom 1040
    June 11, 2013

    Too long? He’s already decided.

    John Stevens is his man; Gillis had to wait until LA was gone.

    But, what do I know?

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    • akidd
      June 11, 2013

      tom, not sure you’re gonna get too many prognosticator points here. pretty obvious.

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      • Harrison Mooney
        June 11, 2013

        Tom comes here for the validation, akidd. Way to ruin his day.

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        • Tom 1040
          June 11, 2013

          Just by replying Harry, you’ve made mine.

          Honestly, I don’t understand what you mean, ‘validation’.

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      • Tom 1040
        June 11, 2013

        Hi akidd,

        Is it obvious? I think it is. You think it is. Does anyone else?

        So, the question then becomes: Why is Gillis going to interview 4 or 5 more candidates?

        Answer: Because he wants to spin his ‘supreme effort’ to the adoring media and fans.

        “I approach everything I do as GM with supreme effort.” is a likely quote.

        Thanks for helping me bring this to light, akidd.

        Hope you are well.

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  2. Mt
    June 11, 2013

    They may also be waiting for Dave Tippett’s status to change from “in a relationship” which happens on July 1st.

    After all the interviews they may have picked Eakins but we’ll never know and, at this point, who gives a care.

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  3. akidd
    June 11, 2013

    what happened to quenneville?!? :)

    but ya, it’s fine that gillis is taking his time. pretty huge decision. i think stevens is probably gonna be the guy. former head coach, knows the west etc.

    that’s the thing with bylsma. dude has no idea how tough it is in the west. it would take him at least a season and probably more. the same goes for players. there’s definitely a learning curve. better they learn on someone else’s dime.

    also is bylsma really that good? the pens are stacked but hardly formidiable. he got the honeymoon bounce in 09 but not much after that.

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  4. BedBeats
    June 11, 2013

    Duders, are you kidding me, there are reports that MG interviewed Torts?! I didnt even think he would ever be on the radar. He just doesnt seem to0 be a MG type guy at all. Id still like to see Dave Lewis on the list for potentials as associate coach.

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  5. Aaron
    June 11, 2013

    I think your right Tom, and yes I just agreed with you.

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    • Tom 1040
      June 11, 2013

      Hi Aaron,

      I don’t mind disagreement.

      But, be careful! If you agree with me, you’ll likely get attacked.

      Anyway, take care.

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  6. Harrison Mooney
    June 11, 2013

    Good God, enough with your martyr act. And why would we “attack” you or Aaron for saying pretty much the same thing I just wrote?

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    • Tom 1040
      June 11, 2013

      See.

      Knew you couldn’t stay away.

      Have a nice day, Harry.

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      • Harrison Mooney
        June 11, 2013

        “Honestly, I don’t understand what you mean, ‘validation’.” — A forehead-smackingly unaware Tom 1040, 29 minutes ago

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        • Tom 1040
          June 11, 2013

          Please, explain.

          If you explain, I promise I won’t post a comment for a week.

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  7. Brent
    June 11, 2013

    Torts! Really! Why the hell would they interview him. Gillis might as well fire himself if he does that. It would be like Iron Mike, without the upside.

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  8. goat10000
    June 11, 2013

    I kinda want Tortorella hired now, because of all the people freaking out about the possibility.

    Sports is entertainment, and Torts provides plenty of it.

    Plus he won a Stanley Cup, which is experience we could use.

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  9. Doop
    June 11, 2013

    Make Torts and Guy Boucher engage in Mortal Kombat for the position. Yeah, the collateral would be unimaginable, but it would likely end on a rope bridge suspended over an active volcano, which is pretty okay, I think.

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  10. PB
    June 11, 2013

    Harrison, I thought your advice was to avoid engaging with nonsensical trolling like Tom 1040? Tom, I really fail to see why you continue to post comments on an always funny, often insightful blog that provides an entertaining recap of games, good analysis of developments, and gossip at all times for a team you profess to care nothing about. If you don’t care about the Canucks and you don’t like this blog, why don’t you stop watching them and stop reading this? No one is forcing you to do either and the fact that you see it as your mission to “educate” the readers and rescue the soulless minions of orthodoxy from all the errors you see from the posters (not to mention the evil that is Gillis) is laughable.

    Onto a more interesting topic not about the non-fan, Tortorella would be an insane choice. Of course if we really did want to do a true rebuild we could always rescue Keenan from the KHL, blow up our team, alienate all the fans, destroy Schneider’s psyche, fire him, make a couple of great trades and usher in another decade of competitive play.

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    • Tom 1040
      June 12, 2013

      Actually, PB, why don’t you take your own advice?

      If you don’t like my message, then don’t read it. Don’t post nasty replies. Ignore me.

      In fact, use the extra time you have ignoring me by trying to learn something about the game.

      For example, you probably want to retract comments like “the coach will determine the identity of the team”.

      That, PB is laughable.

      What do you think, Harry, Danny?

      Do you think the coach will determine the identity of the team?

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    • BS
      June 12, 2013

      Insightful? Good analysis? Most of the commentors on here know as little about the game as Harrison so they lap it up. This blog is a love in for homers who never played the game rather than an attempt to critically review a team by knowledgeable people.

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  11. Aaron
    June 12, 2013

    I for 1 think that Tom often has some valid points and has a good hockey knowledge, it’s his delivery that is the issue. It’s ok to say you don’t like Gilles, I for one think he’s doing a good job and the problems were due to coaching. I will also say it’s very easy to make decissions from the comfort of the couch without knowing all the facts. Maybe Tom should take more time to think out the wording for his arguments it might make for some very good discussion and a lot less frustration for all!

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    • Tom 1040
      June 13, 2013

      Okay, Aaron…

      I will try my best.

      If you have any specific advice as to how I should word, phrase, state my opinion, please let me know.

      I am open to advice.

      Best,
      T.

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  12. DanD
    June 12, 2013

    Tortorella coming to Vancouver is, to use a Michael Scott concept, the “Defcon 20″ of comedy blog situations.

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  13. ktownfan
    June 12, 2013

    Yes, you have to think Steven’s has always been the front runner in Gillis’ eyes as he checks almost every box I think is on Gillis’ check list.

    NHL head coach experience.
    Been successful in the playoffs (both as a coach and in this case a Cup as an assistant).
    Develops young players well. Successful AHL coach. Glowing comments by Doughty, looking at what he has done with Viyanov.

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  14. Jason
    June 12, 2013

    Bylsma resigned for two years with Pit today so you can cross him off the list

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  15. BS
    June 12, 2013

    He isnt taking to long, he has been turned down by 1 and probably had his sights on another. The real question is why would Stevens or anyone want to come coach here next year? They are already over the cap and still need to sign 7 more players, they are unlikely to get anything but a draft pick for Luongo, and they need to make significant changes to get beyond round 1. On top of that, when Gillis gets fired next year because they dont go beyond round 1 the coach will be hung out to dry.
    The coach wont make any difference here next year. Gillis has F ed this up huge but with every night sold out to dumb fans why should Aquilini care.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      June 12, 2013

      Guess how much a run to the Stanley Cup Final pays in ticket and merchandise sales? Here’s a hint: it’s a lot. Even assuming that the Aqulinis don’t care about the Canucks winning for the sake of winning (which, by all indications, is not the case at all) and only care about money, a Stanley Cup win would lead to a massive financial windfall. So yes, the Aquilinis care.

      With that said, I don’t think the situation is anywhere near as dire as you paint it.

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      • BS
        June 12, 2013

        Aquilini bought the company for the real estate, not the canucks

        Ya I’m sure the Sedins wont disappear in the playoffs again like they have for the past 5 years or more. They dont need a big center and they can get by with light weights on defense because in 100 years the reffing in playoffs hasnt changed from the regular season and teams always back off and quit hitting (LOL). The train has left the station and homers are still smiling and waiving.
        Vancouvers number 1 line only scored 1 more goal in the playoffs this year than the fourth line who scored zero.
        Didnt you say they wouldnt fire AV?
        That headband must have squeezed out any hockey knowledge you may have had

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    • Tom 1040
      June 13, 2013

      Yep. This is a really good/valid point, BS.

      I hadn’t really thought about that.

      Didn’t Dallas Eakins (Diet) say that Edmonchuk (obviously) and even Colorado had a better chance to win, long term?

      Good point.

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  16. Chico
    June 12, 2013

    I bet he pulls that ridiculous headband over his eyes when he watches the games.

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  17. Matt
    June 16, 2013

    Good God the trolls are out in force around here lately.

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