Canucks Army Roundtable: Coaching Carousel

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You may have heard this week, that one of the top-25 winningest coaches in NHL history was fired. Claude Julien, was let go from Boston after spending a decade with the team, in which he won a Stanley Cup. I don’t know if you remember that, but let’s move on from that.

Going into the season, it was widely assumed that it would take a lot for the Canucks to bring Willie back next season. However, the Canucks have performed better than people expected (not difficult) and perhaps the plane isn’t ready to take off quite yet. That being said, Julien would be an asset to any team.

Should the Canucks pursue him as a coach? I asked our writers what they think.

Question:

Should the Canucks pursue Claude Julien as a coach?

Ryan Biech

Let’s start by saying that I don’t think that Willie Desjardins should be fired. Yes, he makes personnel  and systems choices that I don’t agree with. But he doesn’t deserve to be canned right now. With that being said – Julien represents an improvement over the current coaching staff, so it does make sense to trade up. Willie Desjardins isn’t being paid a large sum currently, so making the change wouldn’t be a huge financial burden. We harp about making minor improvements everywhere you can, and making this move would provide an improvement for years to come.

J.D. Burke

On the one hand, Claude Julien is among the best and most qualified coaches. Coaches of this calibre don’t come around often. If the Canucks are keeping with the “compete while we rebuild” thing, then I guess he’s the guy for it. Even if they’re not, you could make a case that hiring Julien accelerates the process. On the other, I wonder if this just continues the delay in acquiring the kind of high-end talent the Canucks need the Sedins to pass the torch to. This team so desperately needs more talent grabbed at the top of the draft. Perhaps Julien can have a Babcock like effect — the team play legitimately good hockey while all the while finishing with a bad enough record to help them land a first overall pick.

Vanessa Jang

I agree with Ryan that it doesn’t make sense to fire Willie right now. We’re two thirds into the season and Benning has said that they’re going to let everything run its course. Julien is on a whole other tier than Desjardins in terms of coaching and reputation, so it would be crazy to not want him on our team. If we let go Desjardins, I highly doubt Julien would still be available unless he’s seriously considering Las Vegas. Apparently he’s already in conversation with other teams…

Jackson McDonald

If the Canucks want to win, they should hire Claude Julien right this second. But they shouldn’t want to win.

Always90Four

I agree with the Panthers, the Canucks should pursue Claude Julien and they should have pursued him illegally long ago. Thankfully, he won’t get hired until the Canucks miss the playoffs but he may not be around by then. Its tricky but for the greater good, the greater “real good”, this move should make the move. The Boston thing bugs me but hey, Cups are Cups.

Tyler Horsfall

Whenever you can get a coach who has a noticeable impact on a team’s performance, you should do it. Julien’s one of the few coaches who can do that. While firing Willie doesn’t make sense right now, this is like trading a second pairing blue liner for an elite forward. You do this whenever you get the opportunity to because it will make the team better over time.

Taylor Perry

Is Claude Julien a better coach than Willie Desjardins? Undoubtedly, yes. But that doesn’t mean the Canucks should necessarily fire Willie right now to go for an upgrade. What would concern me is that the Canucks now have about a 3% chance of making the playoffs, and they should now be positioning themselves for the draft in Chicago. Hiring Julien – if that’s a possibility – may move the Canucks into the that dreaded 10th position in the West and worsen their odds at the lottery. Better to start looking to next year, and if possible, look at adding Julien behind the bench in the off-season.

Matthew Henderson

Claude Julien would be an asset to any team. However, if the Canucks want to pursue him they need to be patient and realize he won’t make them a contender overnight. If they are just going to fire him after a couple seasons, then it’s not worth it because this team isn’t going to be good enough to win a cup in the next couple years. If they are willing to let him ride the wave, and mentor the young guys then I’m all for it. However, I think Willie has done an admirable job with a tough situation this year, and I really don’t think he should be let go.

  • Locust

    Meh……

    Let Willie continue and see what happens, saddling ownership with another Torts like contract would just be another thing for us to complain about.

    We are two years from competing and four years from contending, I don’t think Willie will make it to four, I’d be ok with two (as long as someone talks to him about late game player deployment.

  • Roy

    Nothing personal, but the intro to this article is really badly written. There are punctuation errors, the language is clunky and ham-fisted (e.g. “That being said” is an awful transition that is never used in good writing), and there is also a completely nonsensical parenthetical aside.

    Contact me directly if you are interested in an excellent writer/editor with fast turnaround who doesn’t charge much.

  • Pat Quinn Way

    Such bad timing. Of course it would be awesome to have a winner like Julien behind the bench ‘next season’, but we need a top draft pick so bad ‘now’ it’s probably better to keep Willie in place for the stealth tank. However, truth is, a coach of Claude’s caliber will be long gone by the summer.

    The curse of the Canucks strikes again!

    • Silverback

      IMO the Canucks success will not hinge solely on Claude Julian. He would be one of many moving parts that comprise an NHL team. There will be many coaches available over the course of the next couple of years, and realistically, the chances of Julian choosing to coach on the west coast and for the Canucks especially are slim. My thoughts are that he would rather coach a team that has a more immediate upside, rather than a team with a 5 year window to success.

      Willie’s coaching style will certainly evolve as his team becomes more experienced. Right now, there is too much emphasis on sedins, and not enough on Horvat & Co. Next year will be interesting, as we will witness that evolution, as the 1st and 2nd line will probably trade places, our defence will have one more year of experience, and some of the prospects likely will be traded and or moved up to the the big club.

      All is not roses with this club but will be interesting to watch.

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    There are 28 games left in the season. I strongly doubt that hiring Claude Julien will move the needle enough for this team’s final ranking to differ much. By which I mean that I don’t think you should not hire him just to try to lose more. Plus, it’d be much easier to sell a “letting Julien see the kids he’s going to be coaching” excuse for moving a few veterans and calling up Subban and Gaunce.

  • LTFan

    Sometimes what you wish for doesn’t necessarily turn out that well. Both Gallant and Julien have impressive credentials, but I would stick with WD for the remainder of this season for sure.

    The players haven’t quit on him since he has been head coach. For me that says a lot.

  • Jabs

    I think often we see reasons as to why keeping Willie around can be a mistake. He obviously is in damage control mode a lot of the time and makes un-rationale decisions which seem more in line to keeping his job as opposed to helping the young guys get more experience in different situations or get more than 7 minutes ice time on many nights.

  • JuiceBox

    I don’t even know where to start with this….

    Claude Julien is one of the best coaches in the NHL. It doesn’t matter where you sit in your rebuild, or in the standings, or where you want to draft; if you have a chance to make this kind of an upgrade you do it without a second thought. At this moment bad coaching is the least of this teams problems and hiring Julien will not improve this team enough in last 28 games this season to have an impact on their likely final resting place but it will a lasting impact on this team 2-3-4 years down the road. Missing out on the next 3-5 years of Julien because you are worried about results (and a higher draft pick) in the next 3 months? What world of professional sports do these bloggers come from? I can’t even put my head in a place where that makes any sense. This should be such a no-brainer.

  • Vanoxy

    Julien probably wants to take a few months off, and there’s no urgency to make a change right now.

    Hopefully JB has called Claude and discussed options for next year.

    Let Willie D lead us to a top 5 pick, then make the upgrade after the season.

  • Steamer

    Ah, but question really is ‘who is wearing the pants, Linden or Benning’? Linden, not Benning, hired WD. There’s Gallant, there’s Julien, & there’s Travis Green’s contract expiring at end of season. WD has 1 year left, if not resigned in off-season, Canucks head into next year with a ‘lame-duck’ coach. Hard to see management wanting that. Equally hard to imagine the Van market bellying up to the season-ticket renewal bar with WD as the incentive. He may have done a good job, but doubt he has the backing of the market.

  • apr

    John Torterella (this year’s likely Jack Adams winner, at least finalist) couldn’t get anything out of this team. And he had a better team than what the Canucks have now. Coaching isn’t the issue with this team. WD is doing fine with a clearly fading Sedins, not enough firepower in forwards, and very young d. Babcock’s team finished dead last, last year.

  • JuiceBox

    WD has taken serious flack all year long. He’s inadequate, in over his head, can’t coach himself out of a paper bag, to stubborn and won’t adapt, questionable player deployment, the list goes on and on. Now everybody seems ok to keep him around? I don’t understand the sudden flip-flop. Everybody wants a change but nobody has the guts to pull the trigger. Nothing says “we are turning this ship around as fast as we can” like keeping a mediocre coach.

    But don’t worry, when the time is right we’ll bring up our wicked awesome minor league coach with zero NHL experience to turn this thing around.

  • Dirk22

    How about no. Lots of good coaches out there. They don’t need any more people in the organization going after the ‘Boston model.’ Get a new GM in here before worrying about the coaching.

      • Dirk22

        One? Sure. Hitchcock. That doesn’t really matter though.

        Coaching can have a big effect on a team but the talent needs to be there. eg. Mike Sullivan won the cup last year with Pittsburgh but was a disaster as an assistant in Vancouver…go figure (Willie D. chose the wrong job back in 2014!)

        Going after a new high end coach when you’re as far away from competing as the Canucks are would just be rearranging deck chairs, but if you’re going to do it why the need to get Boston’s old coach? I’m sorry but that just seems lame.