OK, one shoe has fallen.
GM Mike Gillis didn’t mince words during his postseason press conference, calling the team’s 2012-13 campaign a “terrible season” after their ouster at the hands of the San Jose Sharks
in Round 1.
"We’re going to have to reinvent ourselves and do things differently in order to be successful. The macro look at this team is that changes have to be made,” said Gillis.
On Wednesday, changes were made: According to Louis Jean of TVA, head coach Alain Vigneault and assistant coaches Rick Bowness and Newell Brown were all fired by Gillis in a massive house cleaning for the franchise.
It was later confirmed by the Canucks:
“We have made the very difficult decision to relieve Alain Vigneault, Rick Bowness and Newell Brown of their coaching duties today,” said Canucks President and General Manager, Michael D. Gillis. “Alain, Rick and Newell worked tirelessly to lead this team to great on-ice success. I am personally grateful to each of them and their families for their commitment to the Canucks and the city of Vancouver and wish them continued success in future.”
Vigneault coached the Canucks from 2006-2013, winning 313 games. He captured the Jack Adams in 2006-07, and coached Vancouver to the playoffs in six of those seasons, including that Stanley Cup Final loss to the Boston Bruins in seven games.
But he guided the team to back-to-back first-round playoff losses over the last two seasons, as the Canucks were humbled by both the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks. Vancouver’s offense went stone cold in both series.
The Canucks were viewed as a Stanley Cup contender in both seasons; they didn’t come close either time, and Vigneault was reportedly shown the door.
There are likely as many fans who called for the head of Gillis as called for the head of AV. The notion of total regime change for Vancouver probably didn’t make sense to ownership, who see the window still open for this edition of the Canucks to win. But the mismanagement by Gills – being too focused on the blue line, adding offensive pieces that didn't pan out – is as much a factor in Vancouver’s underwhelming results as anything the coach did.
But it’s Vigneault who was always going to pay the price for that. He won’t be out of work long, with both the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche openings a possibility for his next move. And what about a Chicago Wolves reunion with Craig MacTavish in Edmonton, if the Oilers decided to make a change?
As for the Canucks: If they’re “win now,” and one assumes they are, could the next move be former Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff? What about Toronto Marlies coach Dallas Eakins, who is now allowed to listen to offers with the AHL team’s season over? Would they turn to Guy Boucher, recently dropped by the Tampa Bay Lightning?
Here's an idea: Perhaps it's time to add the Canucks to the Dave Tippett Watch, if the veteran coach doesn't remain with the Phoenix Coyotes?
And hey, if the Canucks ever decide to upgrade the GM spot: Don Maloney. Just sayin'.
The bottom line: Roberto Luongo outlasted Alain Vigneault in Vancouver.
Who saw that coming?