During Wednesday’s conference call with Canuck head coach Alain Vigneault, the news of his recent contract extension was likely the least revealing tidbit for the ravenous media.
With Mike Gillis’ contract extension, the supposed debate about Alain Vigneault’s future in Vancouver was long over. All that was left to discover was the length of his stay.
Alain Vigneault, in his tenure in Vancouver, has been most readily approachable to the media swarms, though his responses are most always cagily guarded so much so that one local media personality has claimed that AV is instead short for Always Vanilla.
And you can’t really blame Vigneault, given the tendency of the media to over analyze every word that comes out of his month. But let’s play along and take a closer look at some of his disclosures yesterday on a day when AV did momentarily lower his guard, presumably much to the chagrin of his boss, Mike Gillis.
We can only hope that Ryan Kesler was not listening though it appears either he or his agent were. With the recent implicit lashing from AV, he might otherwise pull a Cody Hodgson. Seriously, this time AV is not excusing Kesler’s poor play on account of his chronically injured status. It’s hard to imagine that this is the best way to motivate the thin-skinned Kesler, the Canucks’ obvious inspirational leader. If this now frosty relationship can’t be fixed, Mike Gillis might be placed in the unenviable position of having do deal Roberto Luongo and Kesler.
Along with tossing his team’s embattled defacto captain under the bus, he lobbed a grenade at the Canucks’ medical team declaring that his biggest regret this season was how he handled the return of Daniel Sedin. Apparently, Vigneault fully expected his leading scorer to return in time for game 1 of the playoffs, but didn’t appreciate the extent of his injury until it was too late to implement the roster changes he might have contemplated to best compensate for the loss. This is simply a bizarre declaration from Vigneault - where he’s somehow trying to absolve himself from any early exit blame by leaning on an injury excuse and while casting a bad light on his medical team.
In the end, it’s ridiculous thing for him to have said. In today’s NHL, how could anyone (put aside the medical staff for the moment) particularly AV, not envision that Daniel’s head injury had a very good chance at being a season ending injury. He should have planned on that basis right from the get go. When we talk about AV not having his team prepared to play when it matters most, this is exactly what we are talking about.
But perhaps he his, unknowingly or not, onto something. From the issues regarding Willie Mitchell’s concussion to the supposed mistreatment of Cody Hodgson’s bad back to the premature injury returns by Ryan Kesler to the apparent uncertainty about what seemed a classic head injury to their best player, the Canucks’ medical team is starting to quack like a collective duck.
Vigneault also seemed to confirm that Cory Schneider was to be his main man next year, which runs contrary to the recently publicized, but completely ridiculous notion that he and Roberto Luongo could share the net duties once again.
And apparently there has been strong internal discussion about how next year’s edition of the Canucks should be styled. In his season ending press conference, Mike Gillis proclaimed his love for an attacking, offensive and entertaining brand. But perhaps he and his coach aren’t quite in agreement, no doubt inspired by the collective style of this year’s Stanley Cup final contestants.
We’re not so sure we’re sold on chasing the latest fad. It seems that from one year to the next, teams with different styles win. Chasing what seems to be working now will leave you a season behind. In the end, it’s about the personnel the coach is entrusted with that should dictate the style of play. Clearly this edition of the Canucks’ is not built for grinding out low-scoring affairs.
So enjoy stewing on these little nuggets from Alain Vigneault, it’s another long summer after all…