Alain Vigneault officially found himself on the unemployment line on Wednesday afternoon as Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis swung the axe after a second consecutive first-round exit. You can be sure the news didn’t come as a total shock to Vigneault, who has been around the coaching block and been the bench boss in two places — Vancouver and Montreal — where the weight of expectations is often a heavy burden and occasionally leads to a visit from the firing squad after failing to meet them. There will be many who say Vigneault’s expiration date with the Canucks had passed, that his message was becoming stale or that he simply led the current group as far as he could. Hockey is a win-now business, but it’s important to remember that Vigneault coached the Canucks to a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup final against the Boston Bruins in 2011. He’s grown immensely as a coach since his time with the Montreal Canadiens and part of the maturation process took place during his one season behind the bench of the Manitoba Moose during the 2005-06 season. Vigneault guided the Moose, then the farm team of the Canucks, to a solid 44-24-12 record and they made it to Game 7 of the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs before bowing out to the Grand Rapids Griffins. When Vigneault accepted the job, he was quick to say he wasn’t worried about getting back to the NHL-level, that he was here to do a good job and the rest would take care of itself. It was no surprise the Canucks hired Vigneault after Marc Crawford was sent packing. Vigneault obviously left a good impression on the folks from True North who hired him out of the P.E.I. Rocket of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, so naturally when word of his dismissal became official, social media was left to wonder if he might be a consideration for the Winnipeg Jets. Only Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff knows the answer to that question and it’s one that will likely linger until the status of Claude Noel is clarified. I’m on record as saying the Jets are most likely to keep Noel as their head coach and would be best served by offering him a one-year extension to avoid lame-duck status. However, when a coach of Vigneault’s status is available, the Jets would merely be doing their due diligence in finding out if a return to Winnipeg might be a consideration for him.
Available Vigneault has to be tempting for Winnipeg Jets
Winnipeg Sun | May 23