The General Manager of the Vancouver Canucks Mike Gillis ended all speculation on Wednesday by giving Vancouver Canucks Head Coach Alain Vigneault a two-year contract extension.
Many people thought that there was a good chance that he would be shown the door following the Canucks early exit out of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Winning the Presidents Trophy is no consolation prize for a hockey market like Vancouver. The expectations of the Vancouver Canucks are to compete for the Stanley Cup every year. Realistically the Canucks won’t make the Cup Finals every year, however, it’s still unacceptable to lose in the first round to a number eight seed.
Alain Vigneault has the fourth longest tenure in the NHL currently. He’s behind Barry Trotz in Nashville, Lindy Ruff in Buffalo and Mike Babcock in Detroit. Vigneault is a year removed from taking the Vancouver Canucks within one game of winning the franchises first Stanley Cup. The harsh reality of coaching the Vancouver Canucks is that it isn’t about what has happened in the past, it’s all about what has happened in the present.
Even if the Canucks lose in the Stanley Cup finals next year, there will be people out there that will want him fired. Canucks fans might be the hungriest fans in the NHL right now for a cup, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the fans and media turn on this team it bit more then we should sometimes.
On the flip side, if the Vancouver Canucks can win a Stanley Cup with this current core of players with Alain Vigneault as head coach, the fans would allow him to stay the Canucks coach forever. It becomes a hero vs. goat type a deal. However, that’s what its like when you’re the coach of a Stanley Cup contending team. You can go from goat to hero, or hero to goat very quickly.
Personally, I can live with the decision by Gillis. The big reason is because there are not many worthy candidates out there right now. I believe this upcoming season is huge for not only the ownership but also the players on the ice. With the current core the Canucks have two maybe three years to be very strong Cup contenders. Therefore, if the Canucks believe that the “window” on this team is just a myth then the Canucks need to find the right players to keep this team competitive for years to come. Same thing could be said with the coach, it would be unwise to have a revolving door of coaches going in and out for the next few years.
At the end of the day, this is a wait and see move by Gillis. If the Canucks play far into May next year it will be the right move. In contrast, if the Canucks have another first round exit next year, we’ll be having the same discussion about whether Vigneault is the right guy to win the Canucks their first Stanley Cup.