It appeared that the Canucks were done making moves this off-season and that does seem to be the case in terms of what we’ll see on the ice, with Trevor Linden confirming that the current roster is what we’ll see when training camp rolls around. But the team has reportedly made one more change behind the scenes.
According to a report from Gregg Drinnan, the Canucks have hired Ben Cooper as their new video coach, a rather thankless job that involves endlessly watching and breaking down video from Canucks games and those of their opponents.
It’s not a position that fans tend to think about too much, as the video coach doesn’t appear on the bench or get interviewed by the media, but it’s a vital role for analyzing a team’s trends, pinpointing areas where a player needs to improve, and scouting tactics of upcoming opponents. Video coaches will also often watch live from the press box and do analysis in real time, communicating with the coaches on the bench.
If Drinnan’s source is accurate, Cooper will be the youngest coach on the Canucks staff at 36, but he does come with at least one impressive line on his resume: he was the video coach for the gold-medal winning 2010 Canadian Olympic team.
Cooper is actually a Vancouver native, and has actually worked for the Canucks before, albeit in a ticket sales and media relations role. He got his start as a video coach, however, in Toronto with the Marlies, which led to the job with Hockey Canada. That job included working with the national junior teams, world championship teams, the U-18 Ivan Hlinka tournament teams, and, of course, the Olympic team. That gave him the opportunity to work closely with Mike Babcock, Jacques Lemaire, Lindy Ruff, and Ken Hitchcock.
While young, he certainly doesn’t lack in confidence, saying at the time, “I can say without a doubt, especially having spoken to the video coaches of Team USA and Team Sweden, that Team Canada was by far the most prepared team in the tournament.”
Cooper turned that experience into other coaching opportunities, taking an assistant coach job with the Victoria Royals in the WHL for two seasons from 2011 to 2013, then working as a head coach for the Varsity team at the Okanagan Hockey Academy. Back in May, he took a job as head coach of the Burnaby Winter Club’s U-18 Prep team, but a chance to work with his hometown team likely takes precedence.
He did a fascinating interview with The Coaches Site, where he talks about his journey as a coach and the advancements in video technology.
What this means for long-time video coach Darryl Williams is unclear. It’s doubtful that the Canucks would have two video coaches in their coaching staff. Williams has been with the Canucks since 2008 and survived the transition from Alain Vigneault to John Tortorella.