Edmonton - June 22, 2014 - The Vancouver Canucks have reportedly found their Head Coach in Willie Desjardins. Desjardins is coming off a Calder Cup Championship with the Texas Stars of the AHL. This was just his second season as a Head Coach in the AHL, in his first he won Coach of the Year.
Desjardins NHL coaching experience comes from his time as an associate coach with the Dallas Stars, this will be his first Head Coaching experience in the NHL.
Taking top coach’s from the AHL and thrusting them into Head Coach positions in the NHL is a growing trend, both the Oilers and Tampa Bay Lightning have done this in recent years with varying results. An important play in this situation is surrounding the bench with guys Desjardins trusts, who have experience at the NHL for times when Desjardins needs to lean on them.
It is an interesting move to make, as the jump from AHL to NHL is not only a big jump for a player to make, but for a Coach to make as well. This move is likely to fall on Monday, but TSN’s Bob Mckenzie has been reporting that is basically a sure thing.
What Does it Mean?
What does it mean that the Canucks are bringing in a rookie Head Coach from the AHL? With Ryan Kesler on his way out of town, young goaltenders carrying the load in net currently, and a good spot picking sixth in the upcoming draft, does bringing in a rookie Head Coach the final signal in what is quickly starting to resemble a rebuild?
It certainly doesn’t have to mean that, but there are increasing signs that this may be the case. The Draft and Ryan Kesler trades will be telling, if Kesler is swapped for immediate help that tells me the Canucks aren’t dedicating themselves to a full rebuild, but if Kesler is moved for building blocks and potential…well then all things considered this would look mighty similar to a rebuild.
The Canucks and free agent Mike Santorelli have mutual interest in one another. Santorelli is a 28 year old journeyman who has been making his way around the NHL for quite some time.
Last season with the Canucks Santorelli scored 28 points in 49 games with a CF% Rel of +0.9% and was used mostly as a guy that was jumping throughout the lineup. He started most of his shifts in the defensive zone, and won 49.0% of his 675 face offs. He is an important resigning as he can play both the power play and penalty kill and is coming off his best season as an NHL player. He is not a replacement as the second line centre for Kesler, but he can certainly be a third line centre with the ability to kill penalties and get some spots on the power play as Shawn Mathias continues to round out his game.
The Canucks must actively be seeking help in their top 6, as it sits right now they could use at least two additions, they will likely be active in the free agent market, though I can't see them going after the big fish. They will aim for second tier free agents that cost less but have significant upside.
The hiring of a rookie NHL Head Coach in Willie Desjardins is interesting, there were some big experienced names on the market, yet Linden and Benning have apparently opted for the inexperience. This may be telling as we head into the off-season as to the direction this Canucks team is headed, but the true indicator is yet to come. Kesler will be traded, it is the worst kept secret since the Luongo scenario, but the key is to see what Vancouver gets back in the Kesler deal. Rebuilding or not? We’ll know soon enough.
This article uses information from extraskater.com