McKenzie: "I expect the Vancouver Canucks to make a Coaching Change"

Thomas Drance
May 21 2013 01:30PM


Should he stay or should he go now?
Image via Wikimedia Commons.

In the Vancouver sports market, Canucks fans have been waiting impatiently for several weeks to hear more about the fate of controversial head coach Alain Vigneault. Since the club's inglorious first round ouster earlier this month, Vigneault hasn't addressed the media - the second year in a row in which he's ducked the press following a first round exit - and General manager Mike Gillis has been quiet as well, aside from an e-mail promising change that he sent to season ticket holders late last week.

For what it's worth, TSN analyst and the godfather of hockey coverage Bob McKenzie appeared on the Scotty and Company morning show on the Team 1040 today. McKenzie quite plainly said that he "expects the Vancouver Canucks to make a coaching change," and then added that he "can't imagine [Vigneault's situation] dragging on much longer than it has."

Read past the jump for more.

Here are Bob McKenzie's comments on Vigneault's future in Vancouver in full (transcription my own):

Hey listen, we go through the disclaimers. You can say and I can say that, "is Alain Vigneault an above average to excellent NHL coach?" Absolutely, of course he is, and he's got the resume to prove it. His teams are prepared and they play hard, and everything else.

But the simple fact of the matter is, and this is reality, there are certain times in any franchise's development when they've got to start a new chapter. And that's where the Vancouver Canucks are at, and it's as simple as that.

It has nothing to do with whether the guy is a good coach or not - and if Alain Vigneault goes on the market I don't imagine he'll be out of a job for very long - but I just can't imagine the Vancouver Canucks, to their players, to the media, to the fans, can come back with the same basic look. The reality is unless Mike Gillis pulls a huge rabbit out of his hat... Basically the core of the hockey team is going to be back.

Now, can you show change by bringing in, y'know, Kellan Lain, and more time for Frankie Corrado, and more time for Chris Tanev, and the Gaunce kid, and Jensen? Absolutely you can. And they will and I think they need to.

But you need a greater level of tangible change to present as a face to the franchise and the easiest and most convenient and expedient and probably impactful way you can do that is by bringing in a new coach.

What it does is it completely changes the dynamic of everything. So that when the Sedins and Kesler and everybody else show up, there's no preconceived notion in terms of what they're going to get in terms of ice-time or roles. A new face brings that into focus..."

What that amounts to is that Alain Vigneault is, in Bob McKenzie's estimation, a competent NHL bench boss. We agree though he's not without his flaws. But for marketing purposes, and for the purposes of shaking up the expectations of everyone in the dressing room, a new voice and "face" is what the franchise needs right now in McKenzie's estimation. 

To be clear, it did seem like Bob McKenzie was simply giving his take on the situation rather than reporting sourced information. That's critical context of course, but his viewpoint on the status of Vigneault's job security still seems worth passing along here. When it comes to NHL personnel moves, no one has ever made a cent betting against Bob McKenzie...

McKenzie added that we should possibly expect the change to come down the pipeline sooner, rather than later:

"All things being equal I can't imagine the Vancouver Canucks come back with the same coach they had, and I can't imagine it dragging on much longer than it has."

It'll be interesting to see, certainly. That Vigneault hasn't addressed the media yet would suggest to me that he's on his way out of town, but on the other hand, he didn't address the media last season either and was retained. Also, the longer this situation drags out the more difficult it becomes to imagine that Vigneault will be axed.

After all, there aren't many head-coaching vacancies out there at the moment - especially with rumours that Patrick Roy is set to takeover in Colorado (party at Shane O'Brien's house!). Vigneault has been a core piece of Vancouver's organization for so long, and it would seem a bit unfair - and would run contrary to type - for Mike Gillis to leave Vigneault twisting in the wind this long, only to eventually be fired.

Then again, I tend to think we shouldn't read too much into the delay. Mike Gillis took a month to extend Alain Vigneault following the club's elimination last year after all, and in his season ending presser pledged to thoroughly review and vet the entire organization. Meanwhile, down in Dallas, new Stars General Manager Jim Nill has indicated that he'll take his sweet time filling that particular vacancy, and Vigneault would seem to be a natural fit for Tom Gagliardi's club (party at Aaron Rome's house!). 

Regardless of whether or not Alain Vigneault's time in Vancouver has run its course, and I tend to think it has, I'd expect we'll know for sure in short order. Maybe this week, even.

Listen to the Scotty and Company Morning Show Podcast here.

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 Gordon
May 21 2013, 02:00PM
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AV has out lived his usefulness time to say goodbye the hard part who is there to step in. Mac Crawford? Maybe

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#2 Brent
May 21 2013, 02:02PM
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Agree it is time for a new coach. As with many forms of relationships (my wife isn't reading this is she?), sometimes a change serves to spice things up and improve everyones outlook.

But lets hope this doesn't end up as a refrain from an old Joni Mitchell song about a big yellow taxi.

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#3 Warpstone
May 21 2013, 02:06PM
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Could it be that Gillis is targeting an assistant coach of a team that's still in the playoffs?

He can't talk to Larry Robinson until the Sharks are eliminated...

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#4 Bob
May 21 2013, 02:28PM
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perhaps the issue is that we're operating on the assumption that Gillis is still the one to make that decision...

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#5 BrudnySeaby
May 21 2013, 02:32PM
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If I were Acquilini I would do everything possible, and then some, to get Mike Babcock to coach the Canucks next year. And if Babcock wants to serve out his contract with the Red Wings, I would hire an interim coach for next season and have Babcock coaching here for the 2014-15 season.

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#6 NM00
May 21 2013, 03:02PM
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Why are so many people convinced that a coaching change is going to have a dramatic positive effect?

A new coach is going to make the Sedins and Kesler try harder? Please. These are professional athletes. The idea that they constantly need to be coddled is insulting.

A coaching change without a roster retooling is unacceptable. The talent is the talent. It is a good team (for now) but not a great one anymore.

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#7 Tippet
May 21 2013, 04:23PM
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Ya the longer this goes on, the more I wonder if he'll actually be fired. Gillis has never been the type to succumb to outside pressure. And he's declared his support for Av year after year. McKenzie has proven to have zero sources inside the Canucks org, so like you said, he's just guessing like everyone else.

The biggest problem is replacement. Who replaces AV? I'm hoping for Tippett - if he can adjust his system to a more offensive one. He's such a great coach, great with young players. Got this welfare Phx team to the conference finals. Imagine what he could do with this Vancouver team and $$$? Even better, he can bring Boyd Gordon and Chipchura with him :)

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#8 antro
May 21 2013, 04:55PM
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I'm sure it'll be done just as fast as the Luongo trade ;)

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#9 rioter
May 21 2013, 11:46PM
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@NM00

this team was NEVER great, well at least not when it counted. It's easier to get rid of the coach and or Gm than it is the useless players, becuase let's face it, if you were antoher franchise, would you want the Sedins? Raymond? Edler? Luongo? The other teams in the league alos have a device called television, and they can themselves see how bad this franchise is. it's not as if the Canucks can hid their tradition of playoff choking.

Given that, what more can fatso Gillis do but fire the coach? Half the players werent listening to him during the post season anyways, so why would you want Av back to eff up the play offs again.

Also not surprised that AV ducked the media conference again, he's as dense as a rock as a coach, and it shows what a delusional person he is as well. It's never his fault, but someone elses, and not surprising that a coach who does not believe in accountability ducks the media after the playoffs..typical AV. He's got no one to blame for himself, for being no where when his team was getting run out by Boston, for favoring his useless pets, and who can forget him putting meltdown luongo in the 7th game finals, long after he knew the momentum had changed. Or did he? Nah, AV's more dense than a rock.

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#10 Brent's wife
May 22 2013, 11:47AM
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Brent wrote:

Agree it is time for a new coach. As with many forms of relationships (my wife isn't reading this is she?), sometimes a change serves to spice things up and improve everyones outlook.

But lets hope this doesn't end up as a refrain from an old Joni Mitchell song about a big yellow taxi.

What???!!

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#11 5minutesinthebox
May 22 2013, 12:57PM
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NM00 wrote:

Why are so many people convinced that a coaching change is going to have a dramatic positive effect?

A new coach is going to make the Sedins and Kesler try harder? Please. These are professional athletes. The idea that they constantly need to be coddled is insulting.

A coaching change without a roster retooling is unacceptable. The talent is the talent. It is a good team (for now) but not a great one anymore.

See the LA Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins of recent note to see just how effective a coaching change can be.

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#12 5minutesinthebox
May 22 2013, 01:11PM
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@rioter

Are you really so clueless as to think there ARE NOT teams who would love to have the likes of the Sedins, Edler and Luongo on their rosters?

What you fail to comprehend is that one organizations management dont view other organizations in the same way ignorant fan bases do.

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#13 NM00
May 22 2013, 04:24PM
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@5minutesinthebox

"See the LA Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins of recent note to see just how effective a coaching change can be."

See "correlation does not equal causation" to show why your cherry picked examples mean nothing.

Espescially since there is little reason to believe the new coach will be better than AV. Whatever affect a coach has, it is entirely possible the next coach is worse than AV. It may even be probable.

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