WWYDW: Keeping Things Interesting

As the Canucks limp towards the finish line, interest in the club wanes. With the Canucks now 12 points back of a playoff spot, Vancouverites have grown so tired of the on-ice product they’ve turned to reigniting the old stats vs. mainstream media debate that should have been settled years ago.

In other words, it’s been a slow news week. There just hasn’t been much to talk about.  So, let’s think outside the box. What would you do to make the last few games of the season more exciting?

Last week I asked:  Does Desjardins deserve another season in Vancouver? If not, who would you like to see as a replacement? 

clutch fan:

I am not sure which coach would be available end of the season. Obviously you would like to have a coach with experience at the NHL level and a track record for developing talent, and can teach offence to some degree. Maybe Crawford? I honestly haven’t looked at his track record on development side of things, but seemed to do a good job with Mathews and tried to hone his coaching in Europe, so always looking to learn and grow.

WD is so horrible as a coach for this team, and I think his style is not suited to the NHL game:
a) Team has one of the worst goals for/goals against in the league, ultimately this is on the coach
b) Pop-gun power play
c) Horrid penalty kill
d) Slow and predictable offence for a large part, not entertaining style
e) Mismanagement or inability to manage young talent (hard for him to communicate clearly with young talent)
f) can’t appropriately adjust in game


I think the WD experiment has run its course. I heard someone on radio the other day say that if he’d come in with this roster at the outset it would have made more sense, full of younger players and a team in transition. I don’t know if I buy that. I’ve been more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt — not playing Goldobin enough that first game made sense given the situation (killing power plays the last half of the game, lack of practices with the Canucks) — but overall as has been well documented, WD doesn’t seem capable of making in-game adjustments and his unwillingness to take the opportunities afforded by injuries to play younger players makes no sense to me. I give him absolute credit for bringing Horvat, Hutton, Stetcher, Granlund, and Baertschi closer to their potential. But he’s mismanaged Markstrom for no good reason and his insistence on playing Megna, Biega, Chaput and a few others makes little sense. If you already have Tanev and Edler in the lineup you don’t need an AHL veteran for your sixth D. You may as well try out Larsen to see if he’s anything or Pedan/Subban. Why not play a Grenier or Labate (or even an Archibald) over a Megna/Chaput? I realize it’s not the end of the world and most coaches make these kinds of mystifying decisions but if we are looking for a teaching coach and are committed to being a developmental team the next 1-2 years (I have a hard time imagining the fanbase would stomach much more than that), then we need someone who is ok with doing so. I actually thought WD might be the guy given that he’s not the youngest coach in the league and wasn’t when he joined. But if anything he’s looked worse every year in this job. As for replacements I am not convinced that Travis Green is the guy. How many Utica Comets have graduated to us? Gaunce? Most of the others were developed here. And the top minute guys down there are not the prospects. I’d suggest Benoit Groulx. Great coach for the Olympiques (won several championships or went to finals), was ok his first year in the AHL, having a good year this year as coach of the Crunch, real reputation for working with young players.


I think we have a major case of the grass is always greener on the other side here. Willie has his flaws and he has his less than ideal favourites (i.e. Megan) but what coach doesn’t? The dude has won at every level and clearly has an excellent rapport with the players…coaching today is 50% human/personality resource management and 50% systems (oversimplification there but it isn’t that far off from the truth).

Main thing for me is that (for the most part) the players who deserve to play, are playing. Guys like Horvat, Stech, Tryamkin, Hutton, etc. have all taken big steps under Willie. The worst thing the Canucks could do is upset the stable environment they have established for the young guys. I would like to see the Canucks agree to a one year extension and see what Willie can do with a younger, quicker forward group next year.

Instead of getting rid of him, they should think strategically and focus on improving key skills (i.e. like they did with face-offs by hiring Manny). I am probably the only one on this board but I think they should keep Willie (especially considering where the team is on it trajectory – young and developing – if in two years they are failing to take the next step, then by all means get a new coach).


I agree with most of the points brought up here on why we need a better coach, Im 100% behind finding a better coach long term, but I personally believe Willie deserves another year based on the fact the Canucks arent a good team anymore, what type of coaching talent will we attract? Probably just another coach with just as many flaws. His track record with developing kids isnt half bad, maybe its luck, but I think Willie does things that teaches these kids to play a full 200ft game. He makes them accountable, I think long term hes a horrible coach I dont think he has the tools in his toolbox to coach a contender to the cup. BUT if he can imprint on our top prospects in the next 1-2 years about defensive responsibility I think he will have done his job. Then we can get a more skilled coach to maybe take this rebuilding team to the next step. In saying all that Im hoping he doesnt stifle the development of young offensely gifted forwards with his defense first approach.

  • Buula

    Unless Boeser can gets in some games soon in NHL (ideally I AHL) there isn’t much we can do other than shutting down a few injured vets (Tanev and Sutter). Would be nice to see Subban, even if he’s brutal in his own zone.

    Aside from WD opening up the game and playing more exciting run and gun and moving the PP to actually play with the Sedins stengths, the team is what it is.

    Embrace the tank this year, shut vets down and give the young guns the playing time to see what we got.

  • TheRealPB

    So here’s a slightly different viewpoint — Utica is actually doing quite well, with Demko having won his last seven straight and the team poised for a decent run in the playoffs. I’m not sure I’d be wanting to drag up some of the players who are actually having success to join this tire fire. In particular it’d be better for Demko, Carcone, Virtanen, Cassels, maybe Roy and Subban (though it seems like the Canucks are going to move on from Subban, Grenier and Pedan). I know we papered Gaunce back down there to join them, I wouldn’t mind having Goldobin there too. In terms of playing out the stretch here, shut down Sutter and Tanev, cut the Sedins, Edler and Miller’s time way back, keep giving Granlund, Baertschi, Horvat, Boucher, Goldobin, Stetcher, Hutton, Tryamkin and Markstrom prime minutes (I realize some of them are banged up but when they’re back). I will concede that Chaput at 24 has at least some potential. I think the rest of the depth AHLers should give the actual vets a rest, not the prospects.

  • TD

    I would like to have a look at the prospects but think they need to earn their chances. If they aren’t ready for the NHL then it will only hamper their development playing for a weak team that has been eliminated. While I would love to see Boeser, I am worried that his wrist is healthy. If that’s the case, get him with the medical staff and get him ready for next season. If he is healthy, I can see Boeser and the fans wanting to see him play for the Canucks this season, but think he would learn more playing for the Comets.

    Let Subban and Pedan have a chance. If they have given up on them what would it hurt. I have always been intrigued with the idea of Subban as a winger. He is dynamic with the puck, which can’t be said for most of the forward group and he could be used as the PP QB.

  • wojohowitz

    Forget about Willie – it`s over for him.
    I think Gallant is the guy to bring in and tomorrow would not be too soon. The last two years the Panthers improved. Even this year he was fired for posting an 11-10 record and he has handled the young players very well.

  • DogBreath

    So, most agree that Willie has done a really good job of developing the young players (Bo, Baer, Stech, Tryamkin, Granlund etc). You often hear that his reputation in hockey circles is that of being an excellent teacher. There are actually very few games where you can say that his players didn’t give him 100%. Yes, deployment is a challenge at times (but to an earlier point I made, I think much of this is about young players earning their way up the lineup). Really, most of the issues we have today are because Gillis’ drafting and development record was terrible and we haven’t seen any benefit from Benning’s recent high draft picks (outside of Tryamkin?).

    Very little of the Canucks current state is actually on him. He’s a bit boring and yes, it would be nice to have a shiny new toy. But, if we were to draw up the profile of coaching traits to take this young group forward, wouldn’t that profile look a lot like Willie?

  • Len

    I agree that WD is not the coach to go forward with – toss up between Crawford and Gallant, leaning towards the former. Travis Green should also be given some consideration, but I think management would prefer someone with NHL experience. It will be interesting to see how things unfold – I believe a lot will hinge on how they do on the upcoming 5 game road trip.

    • DogBreath

      Really? Why Crawford. You hear the morning show guys go on about him all the time (are they getting kick-backs?). He hasn’t been a NHL head coach in 6 years. The game has changed a lot in those 6 years.

      • Chris the Curmudgeon

        Why? Probably something to do with a certain large, heavy, shiny object that some players seem to enjoy lifting over their heads after one of the games in June.

        • DogBreath

          Good one … but that was 21 years ago with Hall of Fame names like Sakic, Forsberg and Roy on the team. I’m more just interested to hear what he’s done recently that makes him a good candidate that justifies the talk he’s getting these days. Gallant would be interesting, if only to hear the opinions of CA writers after he was fired from Florida ….

          • Chris the Curmudgeon

            Who cares how long ago it was? And Forsberg was 22 years old then, Sakic was 26. Adam Foote was 24, Ozolinsh 23 (having just exhausted the Sharks’ patience) and Adam Deadmarsh 20 years old. If you’re going to give Desjardins credit for “getting the most out of his players”, as you did in the post above, then how about acknowledging that Crawford, over two years (and with a franchise move thrown in to boot) was able to coax a Cup out of this group who, while dripping with raw talent, needed a solid hand at the wheel.

            Do I deny that roster construction played a part? Absolutely not. But let’s give credit where it’s due.

            I think that given the type of goaltending that subsequent coaches in Vancouver have relied upon, and perhaps one fewer sucker punch incidents along the way, Crawford probably also takes the WCE teams to at least one Cup Final and his legacy from that period looks far different. Specifically, 2003 should have gone very differently, after we came back against the Blues (one of the real sleepers in the field that year, too) and after Colorado and Detroit were dispatched in first round upsets. If Cloutier doesn’t complete melt down against the Wild, I think we escape that series after going up 3-1, and I think our higher powered offence (#2 in NHL) probably fares better against Giguere than the Wild did too. Not sure we would have beaten the Devils in their trapping, Jennings winning prime, but I think that if we put, say, Luongo or Miller or Schneider on that team, we have much fonder memories of it than we do.

  • Dirty30

    How to make things interesting:

    1. Sit anyone over 30 or who has an injury needing rest.
    2. Make Baer-Bo-Boucher your top line … give them a system that works to their strengths and let them loose.
    2a. Do the same with other lines.
    3. Sit Miller. Or, given his propensity for making coaching decisions, put him behind the bench. He couldn’t do any worse than the crew back there now.
    4. Markstrom and Bachman. Time to decide if the former is your guy once and for all.
    5. Bring up Subban. Play him til he drops. Remind him every time he sits down to watch Stecher because Subban either has to be that good or ride the bus into obscurity. Time to decide.
    6. Evaluate every player you have and try something different in deployment and tactics.

    Bottom line: Phil Kessel got vilified for being out of shape and not playing a 200 foot game … but he could score. Pittsburg deployed him differently than Toronto had and he was a machine during the playoffs. Not equating Goldy with Kessel, but if you have a player who can score then let him score.

    Equally, trying to limit Bo’s talent by making him skate 200 feet every time he has the puck is nuts. The Sedins didn’t start as the Sedins, they had a lot of poor years until they learned how to control the game through the cycle. Bo doesn’t look like a cycle type of player … trying to stuff him into a Sedins style of play seems a waste of his strengths.

    If this organization isn’t just blowing smoke about earning things then as your top scorer, Bo has certainly earned the right to play to his strengths, not the Sedins. This isn’t about disrespecting the twins, it’s about looking at an opportunity where you have nothing to lose and trying something different.

    Even if that means putting Benning behind the bench for a dozen games — because WD needs to adapt or go away.

    • LTFan

      Run and gun is what it seems you are proposing. I can’t see many here being happy with the team getting beat by the Sharks and Edmonton by a lopsided score. Most of your comments are simply – silly.

  • apr

    Just once, I’d like to see Tryamkin as a net presence on the powerplay. At least see what he can do in the second unit at the points. For me, Tryamkin’s has the highest potential of all of the prospects – and instead of breaking up the kids in the farm – I would experiment with the big guy and see what he can do. Do we really have the next Chara, or the next Hal Gill?

  • Ragnarok Ouroboros

    I would give Willie one more year as a coach. The team has suffered a tonne of injuries/illnesses the last two years that really affected the teams performance. Injuries are out of Willie’s hands. The Sedin’s have also deteriorated badly this year, and are a defensive liability to the team.

    Willie is responsible for bad deployments though. I can’t comprehend why Megna is even playing for the team, and Markstrom was completely mis-handled. The Sedin’s should be playing as the second line, and not the first line.

    A lot of young players have thrived under him (Tryamkin, Stecher, Hutton, Baertchi, Horvat, Granlund) so give him some credit for player development. I say give him one more year to try and improve with a young healthy roster.

  • krutov

    get goldobin back on the ice.

    put tryamkin in front of the net on the pp.

    focus the team entirely on feeding granlund to pad his stats. this will make hockey message boards entertaining.

    boeser is coming off a slow recover injury and not in top form. i expect not much when he gets here.