While Tony Gallagher has not identified any great flaws in the makeup or even the play of the Canucks over the past year, he is not so subtly declaring that he is ready to see Alain Vigneault lose his job. Since we have seen Gallagher’s act many times before, we know that if the Canucks don’t measure up to the impossible expectations early next year Gallagher’s campaign for a new coach will begin in earnest.
When you get to game seven of the Stanley Cup final you’ve probably had a pretty good year and just as that’s the case with the players, you’d probably have to say the same for Alain Vigneault and the coaching staff… But one clear case where things could have been handled better over the whole season was in the case of Keith Ballard and Cody Hodgson. – June 20th
Talk about damning the indicted with faint praise. Here we have Vigneault “probably” having a “pretty good” year when in fact he – clearly and obviously – had a great year. I did not agree with all the choices he made, but I love his approach, and he did an excellent job keeping an even emotional keel all year long. The team was always well prepared and most nights they put their best game on the ice.
There was nothing wrong with the way Hodgson was handled (more about him later) and Ballard is responsible for his poor year. Every player has to earn his ice time with Vigneault and Ballard was given ample oportunity to win a bigger role. He had very few good games over the course of the year.
Further, it’s abundantly clear coach Alain Vigneault is not one of [Hodgson's] big fans as the youngster always seems the last possible option and was repeatedly slotted into situations seemingly designed to make him fail.
Still, it’s clear Vigneault had no confidence in Hodgson this year and it’s not really clear how that’s going to change in the near future if the Canucks keep the coach on. Further, who knows if any of Vancouver’s pending free agents have any problem with the coach which may impact their desire to stay in Vancouver.
It’s clear Vigneault’s not the most popular coach in Vancouver history with his players, although it’s not likely it’s yet reached the point where it was in Montreal. In his final days with the Habs, the players called Vigneault ‘Mr. Gant ‘ among themselves, short for Mr. Arrogant. – June 17th
Hodgson was the last possible option because he is only really suited for an offensive role and he is not nearly as good as either Henrik Sedin or Ryan Kesler. The Canucks do not have a job for Hodgson just like they did not have a job for Grabner. This is not Alain Vigneault’s fault. In this story, Gallagher acknowledges the problem Hodgson faces, but still manages to blame the coach for it.
“If the Canucks keep Vigneault on…” Is he kidding? Its “not likely it’s yet” reached the point it did in Montreal? Mr. Gant? Please. Nobody cares whether the coach is popular. What people – including the players – care about are results. Who knows if any of the pending free agents want out because of Vigneault? I know. None of them. They’ve all have expressed a wish to stay.
Given Alain Vigneault is almost certainly staying on as coach, the players will all be coming back to a certain sameness which makes mental preparation that much more challenging. You know you’re going to hear the same message and the same droning again unless the coach finds a way to improve himself considerably. So it’s not difficult to envision another slow start. This team never seems to get out of the gate well at any time; Vigneault teams never do. – June 19th
The “same message” and the “same droning” is a good thing, not a bad thing. Vigneault had all his players on the same page all year. Vigneault does not have to improve himself considerably. He just has to do the same job, just as well.
Coaches in the NHL don’t have a long shelf life and they are frequently fired unfairly when a team loses or even when it simply fails to live up to expectations. To suggest it after the most successful year in team history is miles beyond unfair.
Postscript: One thing that I noticed about Vigneault this year that I really liked: Because hockey goals are generated randomly, it is possible to mathematically model certain things, including when to pull the goalie late in a close game. According to studies done on the matter, hockey coaches are far too conservative when they wait until the last minute.
Not Vigneault. When Vancouver is behind by a goal, he starts trying to get his goalie out with 90 seconds left. When he is behind by more he goes with six skaters even earlier. Gillis has talked about using statistical analysis more than other teams – and this may be a positive example.