Botchford: Don't lose sleep waiting for Canucks to hire new coach
It took a long time for GM Mike Gillis to fire head coach Alain Vigneault and it could be longer for the new hire
If you’re counting sleeps until the Canucks hire their next coach, you’ll probably run out of fingers.
And maybe toes too.
Be patient. If you’ve somehow missed this by now, the Canucks don’t do anything quickly.
If they were an emergency-response team, I don’t like our chances. How would they ever make it to the heart attack victim on Wreck Beach in time?
The 911 call would come in and they’d launch into safety audits, report preparation and paramedic checklists. They’d probably even do the speed limit, before someone reminds them: Uh guys, you have sirens.
Yes, they have begun a coaching search that will be slow and methodical. But they didn’t fire Alain Vigneault and most of his staff without first spending significant time making a list of possible replacements. It’s a long one, with some familiar names and a few surprises. As of now, it does not include Lindy Ruff, and that’s not expected to change.
The Canucks are leaning toward experienced, but are open to young AHL coaches. They have steered away from candidates who haven’t been head coaches in either the NHL or the minors.
Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean was able to make a successful transition from his job as an assistant in Detroit. Similarly, Adam Oates did a good job this year in Washington, his first as a head coach.
But choosing a coach who has never run a team is a step with too many risks and trap doors for the Canucks’ comfort right now.
Could Vancouver end up at the draft without a head coach June 30? It’s possible, especially if they want to smoke out Dave Tippett, who, in turn, is said to be waiting on the Phoenix ownership issue before making any decision. Doesn’t that sound like the summer of Shane Doan all over again?
There are those around the NHL who believe Tippett is at the top of the Canucks wish list. But he’s signed until June 30, and extending him will be a top priority of Coyotes GM Don Maloney, who is reportedly close to inking an extension of his own.
The Canucks may not know their next coach, but they do have a clear idea of how their roster will look. A lot like last season’s roster.
Lost in all the Vigneault rubble Wednesday was GM Mike Gillis’s vote of confidence for his core players.
“I think you’re presuming that we’re going to turn over the roster and do these things,” said Gillis. “I wouldn’t go there.
“I’m suggesting we need to have a different makeup and that makeup may very well come from within (or) it may come from the outside.
“We have a really good core group of players. Solid players. Solid people. We need to surround them with some younger, skilled players who can contribute.”
It was a question referencing a recent letter to season-ticket holders, where Gillis wrote:
“This off-season will lead to difficult decisions including roster adjustments and changes in personnel.”
Could the Canucks really bring back the same core group of players who have been together for years, some all seven of the Vigneault era, and continue to sell it as a reset?
If that’s what they’re planning, they may have misjudged the market, which is craving significant changes that go beyond the head coach.
Many Canucks fans are anxious for this team to flip the script, which has seen them pummelled in three consecutive playoff series because they lack firepower up front.
Currently, they are not planning to trade Alex Edler, whose no-trade clause begins in July. That’s a topic the team needs to revisit before the draft, which has become something of a trade frenzy the past few years.
It’s true, it’s not fair to trade Edler. He took less to sign a long-term extension believing he was one of the core players the team was building around. But how fair is it to the rest of the core if they don’t explore this potential blockbuster as an option in an attempt to reboot the team?
The Canucks have a stacked blueline, and desperately need help in their top nine. An elite scoring winger would be wonderful, but the Canucks still haven’t replaced Manny Malhotra, who was injured two years ago.
That has to change.
This team needs a centre, and it doesn’t matter how ready Brendan Gaunce looks right now.
Also, the Canucks are not planning to use a compliance buyout on David Booth.
It’s unlikely they’ll trade Alex Burrows.
It would be a lot of status quo for a stale team.
It would also put tremendous amount of pressure on a new coach to be the one making the difference.
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