It was only a matter of time
The Vancouver Canucks fired head coach Alain Vigneault and assistant coaches Rick Bowness and Newell Brown on Wednesday afternoon just 15 days after the Canucks were swept by the San Jose Sharks, marking the end of an era for Vancouver Canucks hockey.
After a second-straight first round playoff upset the Vancouver Canucks were desperate for a scapegoat, and as head coach the accountability ultimately fell on Alain Vigneault to win hockey games.
The Canucks endured a tumultuous season which saw its fair share of untimely injuries, unfamiliar tactics, and bad luck, however this team desperately needed a new direction after two unsuccessful seasons.
It seems unfortunate for the Canucks to lose AV under these circumstances, yet the decision had to be made, and it didn’t even involve a coin.
Despite recent shortcomings Alain Vigneault was an effective and successful head coach during his time in Vancouver.
The Canucks missed the playoffs only once under Vigneault’s watch, and it should not be overlooked that Vigneault helped lead the team to within one game of the Stanley Cup.
In addition to the team’s success under his watch, the Sedins twins have greatly benefited from the tactics of Alain Vigneault. As scorers their most efficient use was during the 2011-12 season when both Henrik and Daniel Sedin were starting around 80% of their shifts in the offensive zone.
A cynical Canucks fan could say the twins were sheltered under Vigneault and suffered the consequences in the playoffs, but back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies are hard to argue with.
Despite Alain Vigneault’s accomplishments above a lack of recent playoff success was enough to justify a coaching change.
He didn’t “lose the room” and he didn’t lose his ability to coach hockey, but he lost two first round playoffs matchups he probably should have won, and now he has paid the price.
Alain Vigneault shouldn’t struggle to find employment coaching in the NHL next season, but the Canucks do face a considerable challenge in finding another coach likely to be as successful as his predecessor.
Names likes Lindy Ruff, Dave Tippett, Dallas Eakins, and others have been floated around the last two weeks, but if anything was clear from Mike Gillis’ press conference today it was that he is still grumpy, and will need to take time in evaluating the franchise thoroughly before making any serious decisions regarding a new head coach.
And so ends the Alain Vigneault era, will his successor have what it takes to win that extra game necessary to achieve what he couldn’t?
It could be a long summer for Canucks fans.