An unlikely name has surfaced for the Canucks’ head coaching vacancy, as the Victoria Sports News is reporting that there’s been a dialogue between the team and Victoria Royals head coach Dave Lowry.
— Victoria Sports News (@Vic_SportsNews) April 11, 2017
Victoria Sports News reporter Christopher Kelsall suggests that there’s been a dialogue between the two sides going as far back as six weeks and that there are two likely scenarios for how this can play out.
An anonymous, but a reliable source close to Victoria Sports News as well as the Victoria Royals Western Hockey League franchise, claims that Dave Lowry has been talking to the Vancouver Canucks for at least six weeks. The source also suggests that one of two scenarios is likely to take place:
Lowry to coach the Vancouver Canucks or NHL veteran Travis Green to coach the Vancouver Canucks and Lowry to be one of Green’s assistant coaches.
Did the Canucks just make room for one or both of Green and Lowry by firing Desjardins?
Lowry’s tenure in the Western Hockey League has been long and successful and as Royals’ General Manager Cam Hope has said, “he is long overdue to move on to a higher level….” and “…each year we have been lucky to have Lowry come back.”
To say I’m surprised by Lowry’s candidacy would be an understatement, though I’d caution against looking into that as indicative of my confidence in him as a coach. His was a name that just hadn’t come up in the months leading up to former Canucks’ head coach Willie Desjardins’ dismissal. When I profiled the top three candidates for the job, I didn’t so much as consider Lowry — much less profile him.
All this is to say that there’s a fair amount of meat left on this bone. And while I haven’t a strong enough qualitative base with which to make assessments of how the Royals have played stylistically under his stewardship, there are some judgements I can make based on the numbers they’ve produced.
The Royals season only recently ended, as the Everett Silvertips dispatched of the Vancouver Island-based franchise, beating them in six games in the first round of the Western Hockey League’s playoffs.
With that, the Royals finished their season in the final Wild Card position in the WHL’s Western Conference, with a 37-25-9 record. In four seasons under Lowry, the Royals have gone 170-95-16, but have failed to achieve post-season success as the furthest they’ve made it is the second-round twice.
When looking at www.Prospect-Stats.com, it seems, at first glance, as though Lowry’s had his fair share of bounces en route to his fourth consecutive post-season appearance. Though the Royals estimated Fenwick close and Shots for percentage both fall well below the fifty percent mark, the Royals controlled over fifty-two percent of goals. Their PDO was 101.24, which isn’t overly alarming, especially considering the Royals have always had great goaltending,
In fact, the Royals have controlled more than fifty percent of estimated Fenwick close events (our best proxy publically available for WHL team metrics) in just one of the last four seasons, though, that season they were a dominant fifty-eight percent team.
Three years in the red by underlying metrics, as opposed to one year of dominance, certainly makes one wonder. Which is more indicative of his ability? And to what extent did circumstances out of Lowry’s control, like roster construction, mitigate his ability to tilt the ice in his favour?
It’s possible, likely even, that some of what Lowry is doing to run such a successful team in Victoria is getting lost in translation when we split hairs in this manner. I often try to avoid appealing to authority when I conduct my analysis, but I think there’s something to the interest from NHL teams and the fact that he coached Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships has to count for something, too.
We’ll learn more about Lowry, the Canucks interest and where he fits into their bigger picture in the coming days and weeks. I still tend to think the head coach’s title is Travis Green’s to lose, but that doesn’t prevent Lowry from joining his staff as an assistant. Perhaps that’s better for everyone involved.