Just a matter of time.
All “I’s” are dotted and “T’s” crossed, Willie Desjardins has been named the head coach of the Vancouver Canucks.
Though it was previously reported elsewhere, the resounding statement of confidence came from TSN’s Bob McKenzie late last week.
Nothing signed yet, but Willie Desjardins will be in VAN this weekend. Assuming all goes as expected, he’ll be introduced as coach next wk.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 20, 2014
Provided all goes as planned, this looks like a great hire for Trevor Linden and Jim Benning. After the Los Angeles Kings elected to retain assistant coach John Stevens in a likely succession plan, Desjardins emerged as the Canucks‘ leading candidate, and for good reason.
He has won at every level he’s (head) coached. He coached the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers from 2002 to 2010 and had a career record of 323-176-60, making him the winningest coach in franchise history, via HockeyDB.
Also, he led the Tigers to league championships in 2004 and 2007. After a two-year stint as an assistant coach with the Dallas Stars, he had a subsequent two-year stint as coach of their AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars, capped by a Calder Cup win earlier this month.
As far as his coaching style, in Vancouver, he will need to be, and essentially already is, the “anti-Torts,” according to Mark Spector. Much was made last season of John Tortorella’s disastrous coaching approach, from commuting from Point Roberts, WA to a lack of emphasis on practice to overplaying his top players, and not to mention that he evidently never had any conversations with Travis Green.
Desjardins will have to take a completely different approach. If he can re-create some form of honest communication within the organization, deploy his players correctly, and, preferably, getting a place somewhere in the province, he’ll do just fine.
He has plenty of question marks surrounding him; first and foremost, his lack of NHL head coaching experience.
While he has had a winning career in the WHL and AHL, it is difficult to predict how it will transfer to the NHL game, not to mention dealing with heavy media and fan presence likely for the first time.
His assistant coaching stint in Dallas will have certainly helped him, not to mention having Glen Gulutzan, his former head coach in Dallas, as his assistant.
Another consideration is his age. He is 57 years old, and while that doesn’t make him a senior citizen, he will be among the oldest coaches in the league.
These factors will be interesting to watch as the season goes on.
All in all, Desjardins seems to be the right man for the job. He has the qualities you look for in a leader, and he doesn’t seem to be anything like John Tortorella.
Now, the priority must be to change up the roster. Benning and Linden need to work hard over the next few weeks to get the players they need for Desjardins’ system.