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Photo Credit: Victoria Royals Team Website

Report: Vancouver Canucks Courting Dave Lowry for Head Coach Position

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 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?

Continued…

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.

  • dmacgreg37

    I don’t know that coaching the WJHC team does count for much, particularly when he did a horrific job of it.

    Coached a team with Marner, Strome, Point, Barzal, Konecny, et al to a 6th place finish.

  • LTFan

    I cannot see him being considered for the Head Coach position. Perhaps as an assistant or going to Utica. “An anonymous but reliable source …” doesn’t say much. Something to write about by CA as there will be little on the Canucks until after our draft position is confirmed at the end of April.

  • Gored1970

    If they’re going to dip not the CHL for a coach, why not consider John Paddock of the Regina Pats. He’s had experience as a NHL coach and GM and look at what he’s done with the Pats. They were the #1 ranked team in the CHL for most of the year.

  • justmyopinion

    Whoever they get needs to be able to play a speed and skill game as that seems to be the direction the league is now trending and most importantly, – willing to give the younger players a chance to make their mistakes and grow from it. If WD had a big fault, that would be it IMO..

  • Whackanuck

    Another former Canuck, he went straight to the NHL from the London Knights.
    Not mentioned is his record as coach of the Calgary Hitmen for 1 season where he was 72g 59W 9L 4 122PTS 330GF 159GA

  • Keenyana

    Clearly, i hope, Lowry is a Utica replacement . . . but for all the Willie bashing from the CA writers about player deployment, special teams, youth integration etc . . . and now the near unanimous anointment of Travis Green, i’d like to see someone explain how they think his track record would give hope to solving any or all of these issues if he were to be the next Canucks coach.

  • Marvin101

    Lowry isn’t going to help aqualini sell tickets so you can stick a fork in him as far as being the canucks head coach. Is Green really an improvement over Willie?

    I don’t think so.

  • wojohowitz

    There are several pluses and minuses with Lowry. It`s hard to produce a consistent winner in junior hockey with the age related turnover but Lowry has done it so yeah he can coach. The debacle at the WJC raises the question of whether he can handle elite talent. He has played over a thousand NHL games and was an assistant in Calgary for three years so he knows his way around a NHL rink. He`s a hardass – no sense of humour. I vote no Mr Aquilini.

  • TD

    I live in Victoria and have seen the Royals 5-10 times a year. The last couple of years they have been a small fast team. Their offense mainly came off the rush. They played fast and attacked every time they had the puck. Lowry had players leave early to spread the ice and create room. I’m not surprised they have lower possession number as their lack of size made it hard to keep possession. Their offense was not created by zone possession, instead most of it came off the rush or off a hard for fore-check.

    They have been a good team for a while and have done it without any players taken in the first half of the NHL draft.

    Last season they were supposed to be weak and trade their vets for youth to compete the next couple of years. Instead they unexpectedly won the WHL regular season.

    I think their lack of size hurt them in the playoffs when the ref’s put the whistles away.

    I think Lowry would be an excellent coach in Utica. I can’t see him being hired for the head coaching job as he lacks the resume. He might make a good assistant, but that should be the head coach’s choice not management’s choice. So I think they must be looking at him for Utica.

  • TimfromAnahim

    Talking for 6 weeks? They knew Green wasn’t going to be back in Utica, so likely that is what they are talking to him about. From the WHL to the AHL would be a logical step forward.

  • Chickenthief

    He’s already been an assistant in the NHL. He’ll either move to head coach in the NHL or stay put. He’s been waiting for a head coaching job in the NHL for years.