Canucks fans should have been pulling for the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks all along. Coaching candidate Dallas Eakins was back in Vancouver this week for his second interview as the Canucks search to replace Alain Vigneault. But he left without an offer, and he wasn’t likely going to get one from the Canucks. The second interview was more about collecting information than hiring Eakins. Essentially a courtesy call for a guy they like a lot, but one lacking NHL experience. He’s going to get some now, as Eakins was hired Saturday by the Edmonton Oilers to replace Ralph Krueger. From the Canucks’ side, all of this was expected. From the start, the Canucks wanted someone who had been an NHL head coach. They are loath to hand the keys of a veteran group to a coach who will be learning on the job. What they’ve been waiting for is the Chicago Blackhawks to beat out the L.A. Kings in the Western Conference final. That’s so they can finally talk to the favourite John Stevens, the Kings assistant and former head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers. But while the Canucks were taking their typically patient approach, the Pittsburgh Penguins were getting smashed to rubble in a series against the Bruins. It may — stress, “may” — have changed everything. Sure, it looked stunningly similar to final five games of the 2011 Stanley Cup final when the Bruins throttled the Canucks. But that one didn’t get a coach fired. This one could, yet. There is widespread speculation Pittsburgh’s loss, an embarrassing four-game sweep, may be enough to convince GM Ray Shero and team chairman Mario Lemieux it’s time to dismiss Dan Bylsma. It was the fourth consecutive disappointing postseason for the perennially favoured Pens, including two first-round exits, one second round kiss-off and this year’s meltdown in the Eastern Conference final. The Pens were healthy, and supposedly loaded after Shero made a string of “win now” moves leading up to the trade deadline. It remains a long shot Bylsma gets gassed. But just a week ago the idea seemed straight off of Fantasy Island. His team finished first in the East and made it to the conference final. Coaches, however, get fired for not winning Stanley Cups all the time. It happened to Vigneault. It happened to John Tortorella. And, over-reaction or not, it could happen to Bylsma. At the very least, after Pittsburgh’s no-show versus Boston, the concept of firing Bylsma has entered the world of the plausible and is worth exploring. Bylsma has one year left on his current contract, meaning the Penguins are either going to let him go or they’re going to sign him to an extension. It’s unheard of to bring a coach like Bylsma back in the final year of his deal, making him something of a lame duck. If Bylsma is let go, there are already reports he would bolt to the top of the New York Rangers’ wish list. The Canucks will race them to him.
Canucks, Rangers could bang heads over Bylsma
Vancouver Province | Jun 10