“We’re in a results-oriented business and if you look at the last two playoffs we’ve been in, we were the higher-seeded team but lost the first two games at home,” Canucks president and general manager Mike Gillis said. “We lost consecutive games in the last two playoff years, and there comes a point in time where the message has to change and we have to be better. And we simply didn’t get the result we expected.”
Vigneault is – or was – the Canucks’ all-time leader in coaching wins and led Vancouver to six Northwest Division titles along with two Presidents’ Trophy titles (in a row). His Canucks made it within one game of winning the Stanley Cup in 2011 but wound up being blown out 4-0 in the deciding game. The city has never recovered.business and if you look at the last two playoffs we’ve been in, we were the higher-seeded team but lost the first two games at home,” Canucks president and general manager Mike Gillis said. “We lost consecutive games in the last two playoff years, and there comes a point in time where the message has to change and we have to be better. And we simply didn’t get the result we expected.”
Vigneault’s regular season record with the Canucks is 313-170-57, but his post-season record is 33-32. That’s a problem in a sport where losing in the playoffs can erase everything that’s happened prior. Just ask Roberto Luongo.
Vancouver went through a period of significant transition under Vigneault. Prior to his arrival in 2006-2007, the Canucks were a team that traditionally either missed or fought hard to make the playoffs. Few in the city imagined that they could be Cup contenders, let alone among the league’s best hockey clubs. But in his first season as head coach, Vigneault managed to take the team to a division title and to the second round of the post-season. He won the Jack Adams Award in 2007 as the NHL’s coach of the year.
After that, however, the team missed the playoffs and general manager Dave Nonis was fired in favour of Gillis. People also called for the coach’s head, something Gillis says he never gave into. ”People wanted him fired five years ago,” the GM said. “I kept him, and we worked well together and achieved success.”
That success include more successive divisional titles, a couple more second round playoff exits and the eventual face-off against the Boston Bruins for the Stanley Cup.
“I am proud of many of the things we accomplished as a group these past seven seasons in Vancouver and only wish we were able to win the Canucks first Stanley Cup. I am a career coach and it is what I love to do. I hope to coach again in this League and will always have good memories of my time and the fans in Vancouver,” Vigneault said in a statement.
Of course, that extensive history hardly matters after what Gillis called a “terrible season” in 2012-2013. “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,” he said.
There are other changes in the wind that seem as obvious as firing Vigneault, of course, but one now has to wonder where Vancouver goes next. There are a few coaching options on the market, from former Sabres coach Lindy Ruff (a wise choice, in my view) to Dallas Eakins to maybe even Guy Boucher.
For now, there’s still time for a fond look back. And any fond look back at Alain Vigneault has to include this.