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.