After an inconsistent regular season and a complete no show in the playoffs, for Alain Vigneault, it’s time to go. The most successful head coach in Canucks history has been in Vancouver for 7 seasons now, and the players need a new message.
While he has his critics, AV has been behind the bench for the Canucks for the best stretch of years in Canucks history. They have made the playoffs 6 out of 7 years. They have 6 northwest division titles and 2 President’s Trophies. They made it to at least the 2nd round on 4 occasions, including nearly winning the 2011 Stanley Cup. Through it all, Vigneault was there, and he deserves credit for that.
But the expiration date has passed on this coach.
Unless Vigneault could somehow reinvent himself and have the players buy in, to which nobody in their right mind would bank on, there’s not a lot of new material left for Vigneault to motivate his players. They have heard it all before.
This core group of players has heard what he had to say before game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. They have heard what he had to say during the Chicago meltdowns in 2009 and 2010. They have heard what he had to say before overtime of game 7 against Chicago when they slayed the dragon. They have heard just about everything.
When and if the Canucks fire their coach, Alain Vigneault will undoubtedly be snapped up by another team immediately and he will be successful. But not with the Canucks. Not anymore.
Coaches have a shelf life and the evidence is out there to support this theory. Just look at the most recent cup winning coaches and how long they were with their team when they won the cup:
2012: Darryl Sutter (year 1)
2011: Claude Julien (year 4)
2010: Joel Quenneville (year 2)
2009: Dan Bylsma (year 1)
2008: Mike Babcock (year 3)
2007: Randy Carlyle (year 2)
2006: Peter Laviolette (year 2)
Vigneault has received a lot of arrows in the last two seasons, but he does deserve credit for a lot. He is criticized for some of his line combinations, but perhaps only he would have paired Alex Burrows (a career checker perceived to not have any skill at the time) with the Sedins. He was behind the bench as many young Canucks turned into excellent players, including the Sedins, Kesler, Burrows, Bieksa and Edler.
Vigneault’s playoff record is perhaps the most troubling to me. They beat Dallas in 2007 on the back of spectacular goaltending from Roberto Luongo, though Dallas had a better team on paper. The following round they lost to a superior team in the Anaheim Ducks.
In 2009 and 2010, the Canucks had impressive first round wins against St Louis and Los Angeles, but bowed out to the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round. In 2010, the Blackhawks were simply a better team, but in 2009 the Canucks appeared to be outcoached as they frustrated the Canucks with their antics and figured out Roberto Luongo.
In 2011, the Canucks were the superior team let their foot off the gas pedal against the Blackhawks and nearly blew a 3-0 series lead. They were able to beat the Predators and Sharks on their way to the Stanley Cup Final, but lost in bizarre fashion to the Boston Bruins (like you needed reminding). Vigneault needs to share in some of the blame of not being able to get the job done in 2011, when given the best team.
Vigneault’s playoff record was decent from 2007 to 2011, but the last two seasons have been downright atrocious. In 2012 and 2013, Vigneault didn’t appear to have his team prepared and the Canucks made quick exits. Sure, they played good teams, but the New York Islanders have more playoff wins in the last two years than do the Canucks.
Alain Vigneault, you have had a great run. You have been of great service to this team and quite a character too. But it’s time to move on. For you, and for the team.