August 11 2014 02:12PM
You can add another cook to the Canucks coaching kitchen, with the news that the team is bringing Perry Pearn into the mix as an assistant to Willie Desjardins' staff.
The term "Medicine Hat Gang" was coined by a season ticket holder during the summer summit a few weeks back, and it's looking awfully apt right now as this marks the 5th asset with a direct tie to the WHL squad that has been acquired by the team since proud Tigers alumnus Trevor Linden took over as President of Hockey Ops.
Coincidence or not, the hire seems to make sense on a few fronts, given that Pearn is a generally well-regarded member of the hockey community, and one that'll bring his fair share of experience to a staff that's rather green.
There was another piece of housekeeping news which accompanied the Pearn hire: any and all speculation can be put to rest regarding Glen Gulutzan's standing with the team, as Desjardins confirmed that he'll be responsible for running the penalty kill now.
This is an interesting turn of events for Gulutzan, who was technically brought in last summer to run the power play unit under John Tortorella. While that was certainly anything but an success, in Gulutzan's defense it now appears that the failures of the man advantage were hardly his doing. When he hopped on a podcast with me earlier in the summer, Dan Murphy didn't mince his words; he essentially described Gulutzan as a lame duck coach last season, having been left on the outside by the Tortorella/Sullivan duo. With that in mind, it makes sense that he was one of the few to survive the mass house cleaning by the organization.
The unit he inherits was one of the few saving graces for the Canucks last season. It was wildly effective, giving up the fewest shots against/60 in such situations, led by Dan Hamhuis and ace penalty killer Chris Tanev each of whom averaged in excess of 3 minutes/game there. It'll be interesting to see whether there'll be a noticeable drop-off this coming season, though, given that Ryan Kesler's prowess at 4v5 is now out of the picture.
Back to Pearn, whose role with the Canucks will be different than the one he occupied with the Jets last year (before he was ultimately cut loose when Claude Noel was replaced by Paul Maurice mid-season). It initially seemed like a logical connection to make that he'd be responsible for the penalty kill, which is a capacity he thrived in strategically with the Jets.
Instead, he'll be replacing the recently-departed Darryl Williams as an 'eye in the sky' for the Canucks, while helping Desjardins attempt to fix whatever issues plagued the Canucks on the man advantage last season. The fact of the matter is that unless they can improve from that 25th ranked power play efficiency in '13-'14, their upside as a squad will be rather capped moving forward.
As an aside, there was an interesting, if not at all surprising, bit in Ben Kuzma's take on the move this afternoon:
"Benning has stressed he isn’t interested in yellers and screamers behind the bench and the fact Pearn has maintained good relationships with those he has mentored isn’t lost on the Canucks. It’s far removed from the failed John Tortorella experiment."
This is a sentiment that has certainly been echoed by Trevor Linden in various interviews throughout this offseason, as well. At the very least, it appears that the Canucks will now have enough warm bodies on the payroll to ensure that they're at the very least practicing things like, say, their power play and shootout on occasion.
UPDATE: in case this interests you, Perry Pearn joined Ben Kuzma and Jeff Paterson on the TEAM1040 today for a radio hit.