Report: Chris Higgins to rejoin Canucks in player development role

Chris Higgins is back in Vancouver.

According to a report from Sportsnet’s Irfaan Gaffar, the ex-Canuck appears set to rejoin the team in a player development role.

Higgins appears to be a replacement type for Scott Walker, who is no longer with the team. Walker had been serving as the Canucks’ Director of Player Development before getting hired by the Coyotes this offseason to serve as a Special Assistant to GM John Chayka.

Walker had been with the Canucks since 2015-16 where he started as a Development Coach and then was moved to the Director of Player Development in 2018-19. Walker also remained owner of the OHL Guelph Storm throughout his time with the Canucks.

It was clear the Canucks were going to make some moves this summer in terms of player development. Walker worked with the Canucks prospects and was part of the decision-making regarding amatuer players. Bringing in an ex-Canuck in Higgins is a nice step in helping compensate for Walker’s departure and providing support to Utica Comets GM Ryan Johnson.

According to fans in attendance, Higgins was present throughout Vancouver’s 2019 Development camp at UBC this summer. It isn’t much of a surprise that he’s rejoining the team. Higgins spent the last six years of his NHL career with the Canucks and was a nice supporting piece on the 2011 squad that made it to the Stanley Cup Final.

Higgins final year in Vancouver (2015-16) was derailed by injury. He fractured his foot blocking a shot just 20 minutes into his first preseason game and never got back on track. He only played 33 games for the Canucks that season and was sent down to Utica in January. In 22 games with the Comets, Higgins recorded nine goals. The Canucks bought out the remaining year of his contract in June of 2016.

Higgins attempted to resurrect his NHL career in the 2016 offseason as he landed a PTO with the Calgary Flames. He was released by the team, though, before the season began.

While Higgins didn’t get his Cup in 2011, he’ll have another chance with the Canucks in a new role and with a different core.

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  • canuckfan

    Good attitude and never complained was a great role player that saw his ice time diminish as he got older was harder to come back from injury the prospects should be able to learn from his experience.

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    Hopefully Higgins can help make a difference here because it’s an area of major concern for the team moving forward. The Comets have been where our prospects go to wither on the vine. Our opening day roster is likely to sport approximately one position player who spent any significant time developing with the Comets: 3rd line winger and ex-1st rounder Jake Virtanen. It’s possible that the rest of our prospect pool has been overhyped and oversold, but I would have expected at least one out of Olli Juolevi, Kole Lind, Jonah Gadjovich, Guillaume Brisebois, Zack McEwen, Jonathan Dahlen, Evan McEneny, Petrus Palmu or even Brendan Gaunce to have shown at least some sign of tangible progress towards cracking the NHL full time from their time in Utica.

    • CanuckRealist

      Gino the drunk clutching at half straws again. Chris is correct, the Utica ‘prospect pool’ under Benning has proven to be as empty of legit NHLers as your daily haul of T-bird wine bottles pal.

  • Doodly Doot

    Getting Higgins and eventually Burrows into the organization to work with young players is a great idea. Guys with a ‘no quit’ hard work attitude is exactly what the organization needs in every area of management and coaching. Good work JB.

    • Defenceman Factory

      I think it’s great when ex players with a reputation for work ethic take these roles and immediately have the respect of prospects. That said I think that is a pretty small part of the job. Being able to see the flaws in a players stride, the mechanics of any number of skills or the way they think the game is critical. Having the knowledge and techniques to correct them is what makes someone good at player development.

      • Doodly Doot

        Not that it matters, but he turned down Boston College and Harvard to play at Yale. Picked 14th overall in the NHL draft. Sharp man with incredible work ethic and competitive spirit. I think he’s smart enough and experienced enough to figure it out. Could do worse.

  • tyhee

    HIggins not only had a reputation for hard work, but he is intelligent, always showed, to the public at least, a good attitude and is someone who turned himself from a scoring forward who was a 1st round draft pick into an effective two-way forward, finishing his career as a defensive forward.

    I think he’s a great signing and hope he’s given enough authority to make a difference.