Times are Changing (More change)
It’s not really a shock that Alain Vigneault got the boot after Vancouver’s second straight first-round playoff exit. After all, in Vancouver, if you don’t win the cup, then it wasn’t a successful season; a strange and very heavy expectation for a franchise that has never won a single cup.
I personally don’t blame AV for a lot of the mess that is the state of the club right now. But in professional sports, as we all know, the head coach is always the first to take the heat.
Most cities would be happy to have a coach who could win as many games as AV did in his time with the Canucks. But most cities aren’t this big of a hockey market. The pressure to perform each year seems to grow and grow. And of course we all know the definition of insanity: to do the same thing over and over but expect a different result. Thus change is needed, in a big way, in Vancouver.
Letting go of Vigneault was one step, whether good or bad, into a new direction. Here are five more that Gillis and the Canucks need to make in order to get out of their underacheiving slump.
Fix the Goalie situation!
This goes without saying, and has for over a year. Stick with Roberto Luongo, or stick with Cory Schneider. Two-goalie systems can work sometimes, but this isn’t one of those situations. This is a mess, and it’s costing the team money, and wins.
No matter how well the two players have handled this debacle, the organization needs to pull their head out of the sand and fix it. I realize Lu’s contract is a doozy, and no right minded team would accept it. But there is always room behind the scenes for a deal, a loop-hole to be found.
I believe if Gillis truly tried and prioritized this issue, he could come up with a cheaper and/or more productive solution to the net minding debate.
And if we are all honest with ourselves, neither is strong enough of a player to get Vancouver and it’s awful defence to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Ensure the new HC has some fire
AV was undoubtedly a good coach. His win percentage speaks for itself. But he was just far too calm and collected for my liking. Standing up for your players is admirable, but not when they play like garbage. I’m not saying one should go as far as Tortorella and literally bash your own team, but closer to that style would be perfect.
Make the players accountable to the team, the city and the media. If Bill Parcells was 15 years younger, and knew something about hockey, I would say throw 10 million bucks at his feet. That’s the kind of guy Vancouver needs.
Blow up the team, figuratively
This is big, and is very unlikely. But referring back to the definition of insanity, this club is just too comfortable together in their lackadaisical play.
The changes to the team over the past few years have just been role players. The nucleus of the Canucks hasn’t really changed a lot. They need to get rid of everyone, change the whole identity of the team. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, so get a new dog already!
Guys like Ryan Kesler and Bieksa and Burrows are all good players, and have given a lot to this team. But they haven’t delivered a cup, and lately they all disappear when it’s clutch time. And yes I dare say it, the Sedins need to go. If we were going to win the big one with them, it would have happened already.
They are past their prime, and like a few other big name Canucks, they are the opposite of clutch.
The Sedins are possibly the most talented duo the league has seen in a long time. But look at teams and star players who win the cup these days, they’re gritty, tough and aggressive. Hank and Dank are nothing like that, and even Gillis admitted that the style of play in the league has changed.
The Canucks players are not up for the challenge of this fast and rough era of NHL hockey.
Start fresh, start tough
This flows right from the last issue. When starting over, start right. Gillis already pulled the trigger on AV. Now it’s time to continue this big change trend. Like I mentioned, the team isn’t tough, and that just doesn’t work anymore.
They need to replace the dump and chase, conservative play with a faster, more aggressive style with forechecking and hitting galore.
Teams who win are teams who want it more. That’s true in all sports. And the Canucks never ever look like they want it. It’s the most frustrating part of being a fan. I don’t care if you lose because you are beat fair and square, but Vancouver gets beat by lack of effort on their part.
The new look team needs to be physical, passionate and able to step up when it matters. The L.A. Kings are a great example of that style of team. On paper, they’re not that great, besides Quick they’re really not star-studded. But when it’s crunch time, they mesh so well as a unit and play their hearts out, doing anything necessary to get wins. Let’s model our club after someone like them.
Now this suggestion would obviously come from above Mike Gillis, but it needs to happen. Change starts from the top, and firing AV was a start, but he’s not the top. This club has allowed Gillis to not make moves for too long.
He’s not aggressive in going after players or making meaningful trades. The most recent trades have all been relatively small, and not in our favor to boot!
I realize this job isn’t a popularity contest, but ask any Canucks fan you know what they think of Gillis. I’m pretty sure you’d get a unanimous dirty look. Changing the true identity of the team lives or dies at the top of the food chain.
With Gillis gone, Vancouver can truly get to work on changing things for the better.