Will Alain Vigneault drive Dan Bylsma right into Canucks’ open arms?

There’s a lot on the line in Tuesday night’s Game 7 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Rangers: a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals; questions about Pittsburgh’s core, which is 4-5 in playoff series since their 2009 Stanley Cup, and now a loss away from a 3-1 collapse; Sidney Crosby’s reputation as a game-breaker, which has taken a hit over these playoffs, what with all the games he hasn’t broken.

And, most importantly, for our purposes here in Vancouver, Dan Bylsma’s job. If the Rangers win, Bylsma more than likely hits the open market. From the Post-Gazette:

Yet Bylsma will take the hard fall if the Penguins lose tonight at Consol Energy Center. Who says life is fair for an NHL coach? No sport treats its coaches with less respect than hockey.

But in other ways, Bylsma would deserve to take the fall. It’s true, he led the Penguins to 109 points in the regular season — their second-biggest number in franchise history — despite losing 529 man-games to injury. It’s also true he would be hired by another club in about 3½ minutes. He’s that highly regarded around the NHL.

He is, and he would. And wouldn’t you know it, the Vancouver Canucks are in the market for a coach.

Needless to say, the Canucks are likely cheering for the Rangers, and not just because the Blueshirts are directed by ex-head coach Alain Vigneault and they still have feelings for him. If Bylsma’s available, without a doubt, the Canucks are tying up his line. He’s got everything they’re looking for: name recognition, a Cup ring, cachet, and, most importantly, a reputation for coaching a fun system.

This matters to the Canucks. As Trevor Linden said in his letter to the season-ticketholders the day John Tortorella was dismissed, the team is “committed to making it exciting to watch Canucks games throughout the season.” As we discussed when it happened, that’s why Tortorella and Gillis had to go. The Canucks are desperate to appeal to their fanbase, who got bored of the Alain Vigneault-era Canucks. Linden’s primary task was to put a face and a name to a new era: The Trevor Linden era. Oooooooh.

But in order for this era to seem like a new era, the new coach needs to tick off a lot of boxes when he comes riding into town — boxes a guy like Barry Trotz won’t tick.

Trotz is a smart and accomplished guy, who made something out of nothing for years in Nashville. He’d have more pieces in Vancouver, of course, and one imagines his system would be very different. But even if you promised the fanbase that he’d be installing a different style, the skepticism would still be there and the pizzazz of the hire would go undelivered. As Jason Botchford said, ”If everything else is getting a fresh start, including the president, GM and core, so too should the head coach. And there is nothing fresh about Barry Trotz.”

Jim Jamieson and Ed Willes said much the same in Tuesday’s Province roundtable. “Trotz is a solid career coach but he has the feel of yesterday’s man and this organization is trying to rebuild and rebrand itself,” Willes explained.

Basically, Trotz doesn’t gel with the rebrand. Bylsma, on the other hand? He does.

Not that this makes a lick of sense when you really think about it. The Canucks would be hiring a guy that just got “outcoached” by Alain Vigneault to spearhead a rebrand from the team of the Alain Vigneault era. But nevermind about that. Nothing about the fan expectations for Vancouver’s head coach have ever made sense, and since the Canucks are effectively letting the inmates run the asylum by allowing the fans to dictate what this team does now, a paradoxical hire really does seem fitting.

19 comments

  1. Noodle
    May 13, 2014

    I would love to see Bylsma in Vancouver, but I really doubt that Bylsma would get fired if the Rangers win the series.

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  2. James
    May 13, 2014

    It doesn’t make any sense to fire Bylsma, if anything their GM is the guy responsible for the ‘relative’ lack of playoff depth on their roster.

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  3. Just Some Guy
    May 13, 2014

    With our luck he will get fired as quickly as McLellan was after the sharks were ousted from the playoffs.

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  4. DanD
    May 13, 2014

    Nice sassy finish! But right on, really. Listening to Vancouver’s fandemonium is not a great way to establish a team identity. And this team sorely needs some sort of identity right now.

    Trotz probably isn’t the right guy, but is Bylsma much better? There are actually a few similarities between Pittsburgh and Vancouver right now – solid team with a few (aging) stars, but a little too weak on depth to really be a contender. Bylsma may be able to bring in a better system, but he’ll probably find the same issues he’s running into in Pittsburgh right now.

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  5. rvtBC
    May 13, 2014

    Well, if Bylsma has trouble getting the Pens deep into the playoffs – with arguably two of the best players in the NHL in Crosby and Malkin, along with a decent supporting cast such as James Neal, Paul Martin and Kris Letang – what do we expect him to do with the Canucks? I guess if he employed a more open, run-and-gun style of play that’d be more entertaining but that just begs the question whether that’d result in success, particularly as measured as playoff success, here with the current squad.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      May 13, 2014

      The issue with the Penguins is that their depth is really terrible. They’re a very top-heavy team. There’s definitely an argument to be made that the Penguins have not done better in the playoffs because their stars don’t have enough of a supporting cast.

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      • akidd
        May 13, 2014

        and you’re not going to get far without decent goaltending. i mean, how many kicks at the can is shero going to give fleury? and daniel, please don’t give me some stats about how in fact fleury is really awesome. i’ve already reached my ‘being wrong’ quota for the week:)

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  6. Chris the Curmudgeon
    May 13, 2014

    Not unlike at the end of AV’s tenure in Vancouver, the issues Bylsma is dealing with are more to do with personnel, rather than coaching. The Penguins have stuck with Marc Andre Fleury for so long despite the fact that he’s cost them several series all on his own, enough to make Roberto Luongo’s occasional playoff stinker smell like roses in comparison. They have one of the least inspiring defence corps in the league in front of him. And while Crosby’s subpar play is a bit puzzling, and the Penguins have had to deal with more than their share of injuries, the fact is that we’re talking about a team that plays 4 forwards for top 6 minutes (Crosby, Malkin, Neal and Kunitz), has a decent third line of Jokinen, Sutter and Goc, and then seemingly dresses 5 4th liners every game. Missing Pascal Dupuis hurts a bit, but any team that’s saying “if only we had a healthy Dupuis…” is not a strong contender anyways.

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  7. clutch fan
    May 13, 2014

    AV led Rangers going deep also begs the question-how weak a line-up do the Canucks really have? Maybe AV wasn’t the problem at all, and Torts was just being an average coach. Maybe the players are too fragile/slow.

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  8. Lemming
    May 13, 2014

    Well, the Rangers just won, so let’s wait and see what happens!
    I wouldn’t be opposed to hiring him at all. Now we just need the Habs to win so Linden can hire Jim Benning, and we’re set!

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  9. Rob
    May 13, 2014

    As a lifetime pens fan……please take him! I’d give you our first round pick as well if you sign him to a long term deal. He’s given credit for a team put together by previous management and coach. If you remember they made the cup finals the previous year. And a team with more talent than yours can’t get out of the first two rounds…finals last year doesn’t count pens didn’t show up.

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    • Chris
      May 13, 2014

      Rob your post is like the Canucks season. The first half makes sense, But the last half makes everyone go wtf.

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  10. Pavo
    May 13, 2014

    I think I’m looking for a better return for Kesler than Bylsma.

    Especially as Vigneault only fetched us the ‘one and done’ Tortorella.

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  11. Walker
    May 14, 2014

    Not sure that I totally trust Pang’s views but he’s seen a lot more of the Penguins than I have. Last night on TSN he said that the Penguins had no system, or wouldn’t commit to one, and that Bylsma relied too much on his top players. Didn’t we just go through that experiment?

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  12. Chris the Curmudgeon
    May 14, 2014

    Well, well, Ray Shero I guess that extreme lowballing on Ryan Kesler is starting to look a little stupid right now, huh? Maybe moving Pouliot to get a much needed top 6 guy might be seeming like a missed opportunity in hindsight. Not getting screwed over by the Penguins in a Kesler trade, Gillis’ last important act as GM, was one of his better non-moves in my opinion.

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    • iain
      May 14, 2014

      agreed. if Trev does deal Kesler, he must hold out for a reasonable return. my guess is that teams won’t be desperate enough at the draft and that the deal doesn’t get done until trade deadline day. just need Ryan to stay healthy until February *crosses fingers*

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      • Shade of Blue
        May 14, 2014

        I hoping Torts was the reason Kes wanted out, and that the new coach and GM can persuade him to stay. (Of course, anyone is tradable for the right price, but I’d hope the default would be to get the most — on *our* team — from a top tier guy like Kes.)

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  13. Aijia
    May 14, 2014

    No Bylsma in Vancouver thank you. Leave him right where he is, screwing up Pittsburg and Team America with poor decisions and inflexibility.
    Read the reports coming out now about how much fun the Penguins really have with him and his approach to the game.

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  14. BBoone
    May 16, 2014

    It seems to me Trotz coached to the strengths of his team and came up short because the Preds could not afford top end offensive talent. Canucks need an experienced NHL coach who will coach 4 lines to the Canucks strengths , keep an eye on the playoffs, has the personal maturity to coach to the future and allow our nhl ready prospects to develope by playing meaningful minutes and can maintain a low key even keel under public scrutiny . There is nothing to suggest that Trotz would not be that skillful as the new Canuck coach and everything to suggest that ” Torts ” con game obscured the fact he had none of those skills .

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