Update: It is now officially official. We’ll have more after the Canucks’ introductory press conference on Monday.
We’ll likely have to wait for the Canucks to spend a few days whispering it to the season ticket-holders before it’s announced, since that’s what they do now, but it would appear the club has found their new head coach in Willie Desjardins.
This is according to reports from Kevin Weekes, and the always-trustworthy Bob McKenzie:
Nothing signed yet, but Willie Desjardins will be in VAN this weekend. Assuming all goes as expected, he’ll be introduced as coach next wk.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 20, 2014
The reports fit with recent updates from Darren Dreger and Rob Rossi regarding the coaching search over in Pittsburgh. Dreger reported on Thursday that the Penguins had become suddenly enamoured with Desjardins, who just finished coaching the Texas Stars to a Calder Cup in the AHL:
It’s believed Willie Desjardins has made his way to Pittsburgh. He’s the frontrunner for the coaching job but a deal needs to be finalized.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 20, 2014
And then something changed overnight, as Penguins’ GM Jim Rutherford all but admitted he’d swung and missed on Desjardins. From Trib Live:
“The guy I had is going to go in a different direction,” general manager Jim Rutherford said Friday afternoon.
[..] Team and league sources said Rutherford spent Thursday night and Friday morning meeting with Willie Desjardins, a minor-league coach with only two years of experience as an NHL assistant. Topics discussed included assistant coaches, contract length and Desjardin’s possible salary, the sources said.
“We couldn’t make it work,” Rutherford said, adding he will start another coaching search next week.
Dreger suggested the meddling Canucks as the likely impediment between Pittsburgh and Desjardins, and now we have the Weekes and McKenzie reports.
If true, this points to a sudden, and marked intensifying for the Canucks’ in their search for a bench boss — they haven’t had a head coach, after all, since they fired Alain Vigneault a little over a year ago.
They haven’t seemed overly hurried to fill the vacancy under Jim Benning, either, with some saying that they were likely to announce their new head coach, a job strongly believed to be Desjardins’ to lose, after the draft.
But we can assume that was before Pittsburgh felt they’d found their man in the same man, and created a Betty and Veronica situation, with Desjardins as Archie Andrews. It echoed the way the Oilers fell head-over-heels for Dallas Eakins last summer, and locked him up in a hurry while the Canucks twiddled their thumbs. No way they were letting that happen two years in a row.
We’ll have more on this hire when it goes from “reported” to “official”.