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Photo Credit: http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/willie-desjardins-named-canucks-head-coach-1.2684536

Top 10 Things Willie Desjardins Gave Canucks Fans

Most of you have given up on this season, and the ones that are still hanging around either don’t have a remote to change the channel or your curiosity for the possible line combinations Michael Chaput could be part of is bordering on dangerous. As this season comes to a close, there is a strong feeling that Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins won’t return to the bench next season.

One could make a strong argument in Desjardins’ favour for finishing this season (and I have), and I’d wager that’s the path management charts. Still, Desjardins’ shortcomings likely belie the job he’s done with what’s available to him — he hasn’t been a huge disappointment. He hasn’t had a playoff calibre roster since his first season, and even then we were all surprised he took them that far.

If Willie is indeed let go, we should really be thankful for all the things he’s given us as fans. After all, it wasn’t his mess, to begin with, and if we’re honest with ourselves for a second, he’s cleaned up some of the loose trash around this dumpster fire.

Here are my top 10 things Willie D gave Canuck Nation:

  1. He taught us cool words like “must” and “compete”. Sure, his teams never showed any of that but it was a big deal in his pressers, and at the time we thought that it wouldn’t get as bad as it did. It just might’ve.
  2. Desjardins didn’t believe in Bo Horvat to start his career and slowly gave him responsibility bit by bit. It was beyond frustrating because Horvat answered the call each and every time and in his rookie season he almost had the second line centre spot locked up. Injuries to other players like Brandon Sutter helped that along but Bo developed under Willie, and he’s a pretty responsible player because of it. #neverforget
  3. One could make the same argument for Troy Stecher and Ben Hutton. Desjardins has been vocal about not wanting to get kids into the lineup and trusting his vets; by his vets, I mean anyone who’s ever played in Medicine Hat.
  4. Jayson Megna’s existence. That’s actually something Jayson is thankful for, truthfully. As bad as the Canucks have been; as many shots as they’ve continually given up night in and night out — Megna was constant. When there were better options on every line, Megna was trotted out, and it made about as much sense putting Anton Rodin in the lineup and sitting him for 60 straight minutes. One day I will explain to my children why one of the worst statistical players ever for the Vancouver Canucks got more ice time with the Sedins and on the power play than the puck spent on the ice itself.
  5. His scratching Sven Baertschi. I know what you’re thinking “Why should I be thankful for that? Baertschi was already rolling along, and of all the players that deserved to be scratched, he made no sense”. It fired up Baertschi, and it furthered his development on the team as one of the key goal scorers. What is hilarious is that Desjardins probably thought he was teaching the team a lesson. There is some underlying, profound meaning teaching going on there. Now I’m curious.
  6. When he called out Nikita Tryamkin. OK, you got me there. I have no idea why this is something we should be thankful for happening. Putting Philip Larsen as a forward is worth calling out. Letting Michael Chaput ride shotgun with the Sedins for more than a game, let alone a shift, is worth calling out. Dressing Alex Biega on defence because he is valuable on the PK is worth calling out. Tryamkin is the least of his worries and if he wants to be a bully, he’ll let you know.
  7. Since Desjardins arrived on the scene, his Canucks through three seasons have amassed 15 shootout wins, good for a share of 4th in the league. He has taught the Canucks to endure past 65 minutes, 23 times,  to get that extra point and only lost 8 in that time. His goalies have backed him up in that same timeframe, allowing only 17 goals against, good for 2nd best.
  8. He can explain any situation. Willie is the master of the sell. With a team so underwhelming, he made you believe anything was possible. If he told me the Canucks were in the game even when they lost 6-1, he could always explain how something so trivial to us was actually the most important factor in the match. I don’t even think Torts could do that.
  9. His belief in Luca Sbisa. Much like Megna, Willie had a strange infatuation with Sbisa that no one could explain. Did he have some ultimate plan to get him sent out of town or is he just loyal to the most awful players? This we’ll never know. Statistically, again, Desjardins picks players that have no business getting the opportunities that they do and yet he sits performing players or “saves” them for critical moments. News flash: there aren’t any right now.
  10. It hasn’t always been bad, there was a time it was “real good“. We defined a game or a player by Willie’s description of how real good or really good someone or something was. We gauged development, the standings or the pace of a game by how real good it was. If Willie is gone, we’ll always have the real good times.

What will Desjardins’ fate be with the Canucks after this season? It’s anyone’s guess. What we do know is that he gave us the beginning of the rebuild and like it or not, he’s made progress.

  • Killer Marmot

    CanucksArmy is the premier site for discussing things Canucks. This type of article is the premier reason why it I wish there was a good alternative.

    • Marvin Duey

      100% agree. You lost me at #2. The fact that Horvat has progressively been given more opportunity as he “answered the call each and every time” is ambiguous. While it may support the proposition being advanced that WD failed to provide Horvat with greater opportunity earlier than he did it also clearly supports the contrary proposition that WD properly managed and developed Horvat to his current state (Canucks’ #1 player).

      • Killer Marmot

        Point #2 truly is weird.

        I see no evidence that “Desjardins didn’t believe in Horvat to start his career.” Horvat played 68 games in his rookie season with an average ice time of 12:16. That seems reasonable for a good but not stellar rookie, particularly on a team that was at the time one of the best in the league. Was Desjardins supposed to make Horvat the #2 centre ahead of Radim Vrbata?

    • Dirty30

      Like Killer, I’m ready for this site to grow up. We can easily criticize WD for his Coaching decisions, horrific power play, weird deployments and terrible inconsistency with respect to player evaluations but this article attempts humour but is neither informative nor entertaining in the result.

      I would have preferred a mature assessment of WD’s tenure with facts, stats, observations and acknowledge what he has actually done good or real good. Most of all, give me some actual insight and analysis of the situation. Yes, it requires work and thought and more work but that’s how you become a better writer and develop an audience that appreciates and supports you.

      Bottom line — if our home team can’t be good, the least we can expect is to have the people writing about them try to be good.

  • TheRealPB

    You know rather than a snarky and fairly useless article like this you might actually provide an insightful take on what — if any — positives we can draw from this particular experience. I don’t really love WD as a coach — I don’t stress about the little lineup decisions that much and your list is dumb in that quite a few of those decisions are fairly easily explained — Baertschi’s play DID markedly improve after the benching; Tryamkin showed up way out of shape and it was the benching that led him to buying into a new exercise and workout regimen and Horvat and the other players clearly benefited from the incremental increase in their ice-time and responsibilities. In fact most of what you’ve put in here are really the positives from WD’s time here. You could make a strong argument that if you want actually player development there has been nowhere near the advances under WD in youth than in almost any other coach since Crawford had the Sedins, Kesler, Burrows, Bieksa, etc. You could also make the argument that holding onto some vets — Miller, Sedins, even those that have departed the last two seasons — have been a big reason that we’ve had any reason to have hope for the future. If you really want to have a realistic and effective criticism of WD it should be in terms of the utter futility of the PP, the inconsistency of the PK, the inability to adjust to opponent strategies or personnel, poor situational deployment of players (not overall ice time but at what periods) and quite a few others.

    The positives I would draw are youth development and a strong sense of loyalty from the players. There’s only so much blood you can draw from these stones. It’s not like he got a great lineup to begin with and the last two seasons he’s been crippled by injuries to the players they do have; running out essentially half an AHL team for half of each of the last two seasons doesn’t bode well for any coach.

  • Locust

    What would be really awesome if someone did up a list like this for all the CA writers, except Vanessa, she is awesome.

    I would, except that means I would have to go back and re-read some stuff that just eats away at too many brain cells……

    Maybe the omnipotent Freud could bless us all with some drivel……?

  • TheRealRusty

    This article is complete drivel. I agree with the others and that it’s neither informative for entertaining.

    I would love to see an article exploring the new medical staff and their “holistic” approach to caring for injured players. To me there seems to be quite a bit of misdiagnosis and wasted time spending “healing” when surgery was the better option. It is bizarre to me that Markstorm wasn’t operated on in Feb so that he would have maximum time to heal, train and be ready for next season.

    • Naslund

      The current medical approach seems to be to explore all rehab options before choosing surgery. That is the morally responsible position to take, as it is in the best interest of the player’s long-term health. Too often, teams put their own interests before the players, but in this case, the Canucks are clearly doing the right thing. Sure, on some occasions the rehab won’t work, and they will have to have surgery anyways, but on those occasions where the player is able to rehab without surgery, it’s better for the player and the team in the long-run. If Bobby Orr had had this type of medical advice instead of eager surgeons hacking away at his knees, he may have played a lot longer. There are many areas to criticize the current Canucks management team; this is not one of them. Rick Celebrini is a leader in the field of sports re-habilitation and a moral man. The Canucks players are lucky to have him.

  • Dinsdale

    Rather than these useless gasbag opinion pieces like this and “Cheers & Jeers” and “Know What I Hate,” where’s the useful Blackfish Reports?
    It’s getting to the point I’d rather read Provies.
    I’ve already stopped reading Nucks Misconduct and the Canuck Way for the same reasons.

  • Peachy

    Look, I love Canucks Army, even the always controversial JD Burke. But seriously, what is this? I get tangential humour when it is warm-hearted (see Grainne <3), but this is plain trolling and contributes nothing.

  • tyhee

    I came to the comments hoping to see a comment from the author that the article was satirical rather than serious and was really disappointed not to find it.

    This article seems as far as one can get from my original understanding of Canucks Army being analysis and fact-based.