Willie Desjardins joins Canucks, as Penguins resume coach hunt

Update: It is now officially official. We’ll have more after the Canucks’ introductory press conference on Monday.

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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:

 

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:

 

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”.

15 comments

  1. John in Marpole
    June 20, 2014

    “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.”

    Best. PITB. Paragraph. Of. The. Year.

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  2. CoolerHeads
    June 20, 2014

    But Torts was behind the bench last year? Although at times it did not seem like he was, nor did he act like, a head coach…oh, oooohhh

    It is true, Torts changed nothing except for the how he interacted with the media. Given how hard that must have been for him, he probably was an even bigger d#$k behind the scenes.

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  3. Steve
    June 20, 2014

    Just announced, Tortorella to be the next coach of the Texas Stars!

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    • Obscene Alex
      June 20, 2014

      We don’t want him.

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  4. shoes
    June 20, 2014

    I am satisfied with this hire.

    I agree with the anti-torts sentence. lol, totally.

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    • iain
      June 23, 2014

      Torts and anti-Torts…..

      for the good of all mankind, therefore, we must prevent Desjardins and Torts from meeting. ever.

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  5. DMac
    June 20, 2014

    Smart choice…..another prairie boy to bring that intangible level of integrity, discipline and up tempo hockey to the Nucks! Willie has won at every level and in time will here as well. Now we just need Ridley doing play by play as well! The displaced Hatters will understand. Good work Jim and Trev!

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  6. Chris the Curmudgeon
    June 20, 2014

    How’d that Dallas Eakins hiring work out for Edmonton? Not saying I don’t like this (putative) hiring, just that everything can look like a good idea on paper in June.

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  7. Andy
    June 20, 2014

    “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.”

    God, I hope it doesn’t turn out the same way. Shouldn’t the oilers be a lesson to us about rushing an AHL coach to the big leagues, with a big contract?

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    • TonyTanti
      June 20, 2014

      He’s not really being “rushed” to the big leagues – he’s actually been not rushing to the big leagues for the better part of 30 years now. Lots of coaches that have had success after years in the minors.

      As much as I love the Canucks, I’m shocked anyone would turn down the Pittsburgh Crosby’s job for this Canuck’s job…

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      • James
        June 20, 2014

        The trouble with Puttsburgh is that job comes with sky high expectations while simultaneously being saddled with lack of depth that the coach has no control over. Not exactly a dream job. If you don’t succeed, you are the loser that couldn’t get it done with young scoring superstars on your roster, right? Who’s gonna give a first time coach a sniff at the big time afterwards?

        And there’s the reputed seat-warming for Babcock. If I am Willie D @ 57 years old I say no thanks to that recipe.

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    • nobandwagoners
      June 20, 2014

      I read that the reason he passed on Pittsburgh was that Pitts. was offering a two year deal but no ability to hire his own assistants. To me, that sounds like his first choice would have been Crosby, Malkin and the Pens but the terms of the deal weren’t acceptable to Desjardins.

      Can’t fault a guy for signing where it best fits his wants, including financial stability, but I would have liked to have heard the opportunity in Vancouver was the most enticing and not second best. Again, I’d understand that for most coaches it’d be hard to turn down the opportunity to coach Crosby and Malkin (even if the rest of the line up is a bit more pedestrian).

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  8. Kari
    June 20, 2014

    From a Texas Stars season ticket holder, you all are getting a great coach. Sad to see him leave our team but he deserves it. Why don’t you all take Travis Morin as well. Dallas seems to not have room for him and all his does is play his tail off.

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    • Naturalmystic
      June 20, 2014

      Travis, you are too slow for the NHL. Sorry.

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  9. spikey
    June 21, 2014

    Man, Pittsburgh are maybe offering a pretty horrible deal aren’t they. “you can sign a 2 year deal, no more than that, you can’t pick your assistants and remember, the person who is hiring you is outta here in the near future”

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