Canucks ‘didn't get the results we expected,’ fire coach Alain Vigneault
‘We didn't win the games we had to win in order to be successful,’ says GM Mike Gillis
VANCOUVER — Citing time and again that the National Hockey League is all about winning, Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis announced Wednesday that he had punted head coach Alain Vigneault and two of his assistants, Rick Bowness and Newell Brown.
Vigneault, the most successful coach in Canucks history, was judged heavily on the last two playoff rounds in which the team went out in five games to the Los Angeles Kings and then four straight to the San Jose Sharks
Simply not good enough, stated Gillis.
“We're in a results-oriented business and if you look at the last two playoffs we've been in, we were the higher-seeded team that lost the first two games at home,” Gillis explained during a news conference at Rogers Arena. “We've lost consecutive games in the last two playoff years and there comes a point in time where the message has to change and we have to be better. We didn't get the results we expected and, in this business, you have to get results.”
Gillis further explained that he felt Vigneault deserved another chance after the 2012 playoff flop but that he expected more from the roster of players he provided the coach.
“This year we went into the playoffs and Ryan Kesler was healthy and we picked up Derek Roy,” Gillis continued. “Personnel is changing, injuries are changing, but the fact remains is that we didn't win the games we had to win in order to be successful.
“After the previous season, we thought it might have been an anomaly. We wanted to make sure the coaches had every opportunity they could to succeed. With the lockout-shortened season, it's difficult, but in the playoffs we got the same result. I believe that we have a good hockey team and I believe we had an opportunity to win.”
Gillis declined to discuss, even in the vaguest of generalities, the profile of a coach he would be seeking to replace Vigneault.
“Today has been a bad enough day,” he responded. “Can you give me a couple of days just to clear my head? This was a process where we wanted to afford Alain and his staff every consideration we could. They're very good people and very good coaches. I need a couple of days here before we start going down that path.
"There are a number of good candidates out there. We're going to speak to them and we'll go through a process. I think the NHL is changing and evolving rapidly and we're going to listen and talk to the people we feel are legitimate candidates to coach the Vancouver Canucks and we'll make our decision based on that interview process.”
Vigneault, 52, was originally hired by former GM Dave Nonis on June 20, 2006. Gillis replaced Nonis in 2008 and opted to retain Vigneault rather than hire his own man. In their five seasons together, Gillis and Vigneault produced five Northwest Division titles, two Presidents Trophies, won five playoff rounds and, of course, reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2011.
Vigneault did not make himself available Wednesday but did issue a 286-word statement through the team's media relations department, thanking virtually everyone, including ownership, management, trainers, scouts and even Nonis for initially bringing him into the organization.
“The past seven years have been an honour for me to coach and work for a great franchise in a wonderful Canadian city,” Vigneault said in part. “To work in a city with such passionate and loyal fans is a privilege. I enjoyed every moment of it.
“Over the past seven years, I have made many good friends in Vancouver and had the chance to coach quality players who cared deeply about their profession and were committed to winning. I am proud of many of the things we accomplished as a group these past seven seasons and only wish we were able to win the Canucks' first Stanley Cup.”
According to Gillis, he had a four-hour meeting Wednesday with ownership that concluded at 2 p.m. He then phoned Vigneault 15 minutes later to deliver the bad news.
“The detail of what went into that decision and what went into that review will remain between myself and our ownership group,” Gillis said. “We're at a point now in the evolution of this team and this organization where, in my mind, a change is required. There is no other motivation other than that we didn't get the result that we wanted to get. When that occurs, you do a thorough review and you look for the areas you can address and this was an area.”
ICE CHIPS: Goalie coach Rollie Melanson and third assistant Darryl Williams were retained for the time being ... Gillis said diminutive centre Jordan Schroeder (shoulder), who played 31 games with the big club this past season, was the only player to require post-season surgery.
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