This evening around 6:00PM PEI time, I found out via Twitter that Alain Vigneault, the Vancouver Canucks’ head coach was fired. Obviously it is a terrible thing for anyone to lose their job, however it seems to me that this might have been the time for coach AV to go.
Coach had an incredible run with the Canucks, and they had tremendous regular season success playing under him. His issues always seemed to come during the playoffs. Other than the Stanley Cup final run in 2011, the Canucks never made it past the second round with AV at the helm. In his first year as coach, 2006 -2007, they were ousted in the second round by Anaheim, who eventually went on to win the Stanley cup. The following year they missed the playoffs, and the next two seasons, were eliminated in the second round by the Chicago Blackhawks. Then came the cup run in 2011, where they ended up losing to Boston in seven games, despite taking a two games to zero lead heading into game three.
Then came the last two seasons. The Canucks looked equipped for deep playoff runs both years, but were disappointingly eliminated in five games by the LA Kings last year, and swept in four games by the San Jose Sharks this year.
Perhaps AV’s biggest accomplishments also ended up being his downfall, as the regular season success that the Canucks had during his tenure was unprecedented. Aside from the 2007-2008 year in which they missed the playoffs, AV guided the Canucks to Northwest Division titles in every other season he coached. In 2007 he won the Jack Adams Trophy as the NHL’s coach of the year, and prior to this season had guided the Canucks to two straight President’s Trophies as top team in the NHL regular season. This unfortunately didn’t translate into the playoff success that fans and ownership were craving.
One interesting stat that I stumbled on when reviewing AV’s time with the Canucks, is that in ever playoff year besides 2009, when the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup, the Canucks lost to the evetual Stanley Cup winners (Anaheim 2007; Chicago 2010; Boston 2011; LA 2012). This is not to say that the Canucks would have won the cup in any of these seasons if they had been able to get past theses teams, but it certainly makes one wonder.
I have always had a special place for AV, as he was the coach of the PEI Rocket of the Qubec Major Junior Hockey League when they first arrived on PEI from Montreal in 2003, before leaving in 2006 to coach the AHL affiliate of the Canucks at that time in Manitoba.
AV will be missed, but it certainly did appear to be time for some sort of change in Vancouver.