Canucks fire Assistant Coaches

Confirmed by TSN on their website, the Canucks have just fired assistant coaches Barry Smith and Mike Kelly.

It has long been rumoured that coach changes are imminent ever since the replacement of GM Dave Nonis by Mike Gillis. General expectation was a complete change to the coaching line-up, but on Wednesday afternoon, it was Alain Vigneualt who delievered the news of firing two assistant coaches to the media.

Hard to imagine Vigneualt, the Jack Adams Award winner as top head-coach of the NHL for the 06-07 season, specifically for his efforts in bringing the Canucks to a club-record-breaking 49 wins per season, worrying about his job so soon. Vigneualt, a veteran coach who work as assistant coach for the Ottawa Senators in 92-93, spent four seasons with the Montreal Canadiens from 97-01 as their head-coach, during which he was first nominated for the Jack Adams Award in 2000.

Known for his defense-first playing style, which critics claim to be a “boring trapping” system, Vigneault was successful in making the Canucks a strong cup-contender in his first season with Vancouver. The Canucks won the Northwest division title, but was regretfully outsed in the second round to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions Anaheim Ducks. Fans were disappointed, but few pointed their fingers at the Jack Adams Award winner for his defensive style of play.

But coming into his second year this season, with expectations sky-high, the Canucks, plaqued with injuries throughout their line-up, failed to make the playoff again(twice in three years). Most were expecting Vigneault to follow Nonis’ footsteps out of Vancouver for good.

However, analysts suggest wednesday’s action by the Canucks’ management a clear sign of support for Vigneualt to remain as the head coach for at least the coming season. Since it doesn’t make sense to just announce firing of the assistant coaches, if management doesn’t intend to keep the head-coach. Why fire the coaches separately? Not to mention the announcement was made by the head-coach himself. So all signs do point to Vigneualt to spend his remaining year of his contract with the Canucks, although he will surely be on a tight leash.

With Vigneualt staying put, does this mean the end of the Markus Naslund era for the Canucks? Or does the firing of two assistant coaches who were responsible for the forward lines indicate a change of playing style to follow?

Signing out, this is


Saint Pako of the Hockey Digest.

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