By Derek Jory
The National Hockey League is a result-oriented business and based on those results from the last two seasons, Alain Vigneault was relieved as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks Wednesday.
After being 60 minutes from hoisting the Stanley Cup in 2011, Vigneault guided the Canucks to another two consecutive post-season appearances over the last two years, but in both instances higher-seeded Vancouver was rudely escorted from the dance, most recently by the San Jose Sharks in a first round sweep two weeks ago.
A 1-8 playoff record over the past two seasons was enough for Gillis, who met with the Canucks ownership group during a four-hour meeting earlier Wednesday, to relieve Vigneault of his duties.
“There comes a point in time where the message has to change and we have to be better,” said Gillis, during a 25-minute press conference at Rogers Arena. “We simply didn’t get the result we expected and in this business, you have to get results.”
Vigneault was informed of the decision from Gillis by phone at 2:15 PST; Gillis expressed what a difficult verdict it was to not only fire Vigneault, but also associate coach Rick Bowness and assistant coach Newell Brown.
Gillis would not elaborate on his brief conversation with Vigneault, except saying the two will meet next week.
The search now begins for a new bench boss for the Vancouver Canucks, who will work alongside retained assistant coach Darryl Williams and goaltending coach Roland Melanson.
Gillis has yet to put any thought into whom the 17th head coach in Canucks franchise history will be, but he said to expect a lengthy interview process.
“I know some people out there think this is an easy, simple decision to make. It’s not. I need a couple days here before we start going down that path to collect my thoughts; there’s a number of good candidates out there, we’re going to speak to them and we’ll go through a process.
“The NHL is changing and evolving rapidly and we’re going to talk to and listen to the people we think are legitimate candidates to coach the Vancouver Canucks and we’ll make our decision based on that interview process.”
The only other news to surface from the press conference was in regards to forward Jordan Schroeder, who had successful shoulder surgery and is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for the start of the season.
This September Schroeder will be competing to be part of the new Canucks regime. Exciting times are ahead.
“I’m looking forward to the next chapter in this organization,” said Gillis. “I think we’re well positioned to continue to improve and get better and I’m excited about where we’re going to go from this point forward.”
Alain Vigneault did not speak to the media and does not plan on addressing the media, but he did send the following statement in regards to his departure and his time in Vancouver.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Aquilini family, Mike Gillis, Lorne Henning, Laurence Gilman, Stan Smyl, Victor de Bonis and the entire management, scouting, training and front office staff with the Vancouver Canucks. The past seven years have been an honour for me to coach and work for a great franchise in a wonderful Canadian city. To work in a city with such passionate and loyal fans is a privilege – I enjoyed every moment of it.
I am grateful to Dave Nonis and Steve Tambellini for the opportunity they provided me eight years ago. 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 grateful to the players and their families for the sacrifice and dedication they showed in an effort to be the best they could be. Watching as many of our players started families, became fathers and grew as men, on and off of the ice, was equally rewarding.
To Rick Bowness, Newell Brown, Rollie Melanson and Darryl Williams – I say thank you for your tireless effort every day – I am grateful for your friendship and dedication. You should all be very proud of your achievements.
I am proud of many of the things we accomplished as a group these past seven seasons in Vancouver and only wish we were able to win the Canucks first Stanley Cup. I am a career coach and it is what I love to do. I hope to coach again in this League and will always have good memories of my time and the fans in Vancouver.
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