It has come to this. The Great Canucks Watch 3.0. As rival NHL franchises attempt to get their houses in order — especially in Colorado and Dallas where not making the playoffs met with management changes — it’s now entering week three since Vancouver was swept aside in its Western Conference quarter-final series. It’s been over two full weeks to ponder sweeping change and the only noise from Rogers Arena is crickets. It’s quiet. Too quiet. Canucks general manager Mike Gillis told season-ticket holders in an email last week there would be “difficult decisions including roster adjustments and changes in personnel” and a re-invention for a return to prominence. Failure on so many fronts has obviously placed Alain Vigneault and his coaching staff in peril, so what’s taking so long? Time won’t heal the gaping wounds of a stale and predictable product that struggled to win faceoffs (25th in the NHL), score (26th) and do anything on the power play (19th). Like a carton of sour milk, the expiration date on Vigneault has passed. Move on. Not only does Gillis have to answer to fiery owner Francesco Aquilini — who has passionately provided the hockey-operations department with a salary cap ceiling budget and creature comforts like a Mind Room, players’ lounge, a sleep doctor and in-house chef to maximize player performance — he has to satisfy the season-ticket base and the corporate community. Being the big dog on the local sports scene means you have considerable bark and bite, as long you don’t drop a big mess that needs to be cleaned up. And from cap limitations to roster holes and wrestling with a home for their new AHL club, the Canucks are a mess. The Avalanche and Stars can say the same to varying degrees, but at least they’re being proactive. So are the Nashville Predators, who added Phil Housley as an assistant coach Tuesday to replace the fired Peter Horacek. In Denver, Joe Sakic was elevated to executive vice-president of hockey operations on May 10 and started wooing Patrick Roy to replace the fired Joe Sacco as coach of the Avalanche. After three seasons of missing the playoffs, it was time for Pierre Lacroix to resign as team president. It was time to plot an immediate course for a once-proud franchise that boasts an under-23 core of offensive potential — Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly — to take a big development step, if the penny-pinching franchise is willing to meet Roy’s contract demands. Owning the top pick in the 2013 draft — hello, Seth Jones — will bolster a suspect back end and the right guy pushing the right buttons could speed the process and fill all those empty seats at the Pepsi Center. Fiery to a fault, a more mature Roy carries cachet and could work well with Sakic. Like Vancouver, coaching is the biggest piece of the puzzle in Colorado because despite guiding the Avalanche to the post-season in 2009-10 and being named a Jack Adams Award finalist, Sacco couldn’t coax the club to the next level. He didn’t play favourites and promised the Avalanche would be hard to play against. They weren’t. Hard to imagine that with Hall of Fame inductee Roy calling the shots. Eight seasons in the Mile High City that included a Stanley Cup and seven seasons of coaching in QMJHL have prepared Roy for this moment. He’s just as driven but a bit more mellow, and that would resonate well with Sakic and the paying public. And you know it won’t be dull.
Canucks coaching decision taking way too long
Vancouver Province | May 22