Right now, nothing he tries is working. But what’s not working most of all is the team, since Sundin’s arrival. It might be coincidence, but I kind of don’t think so.
All I know is, many more stinkers like Thursday, and it could come down to this:
Not Vigneault’s fault, but his responsibility.
It might not be the right answer, but it is an answer.
Cam Cole, Vancouver Province
No no, it IS the right answer. There's a time to be diplomatic and a time for action.
Management already got to be diplomatic this past summer when Vigneault's neck was last on the line. We all did; newspapers, blogs, radio shows and countless sideline coaches and hockey moms all got to play the pros/cons game of keeping him around after the team tanked in the final weeks of last March.
A mere five months after he got a pass from Gillis (almost as long as it took Sundin to figure out he wanted to come back and sit in the penalty box as a Canuck) lady luck has shown brightly again: we're tanking in January instead of March. Maybe that's a good thing because there is still time and lots that needs to change, such as:
Fact: Six straight losses at home, tying a franchise record they set in the year the team debuted ('70-'71)
Fact: Three points from being out of the playoff hunt
Fact: In two straight they haven't bothered to show up in the first period, much less the remaining two
Fact: They have zero confidence or flow to their game (you want a particularly sadistic drinking game? Everytime a Canuck misses a pass from a teammate, pound a shot)
Fact: This team has become what the critics wanted them to be in the beginning of the year - a team with no chance in hell of competing.
In an effort to find some semblance of identity in 2008 alone, the Canucks booted their old captain (two if you count Linden's treatment), shed the vestiges of the past (Morrison) and canned the old GM for not getting it done when he had a chance to make a difference. In their place they took the unorthodox steps of naming an agent their GM and a goalie their captain and actually brought in high priced free agents (in Demitra and Sundin).
New look, same result.
Forget the Jack Adams; anyone who uses that claim isn't paying attention to (a) how the hell he got that award (re: Luongo) and (b) what the team has done since he got that award. He's failed to get the best out of the players he's been given. He can't juggle lines effectively (Naslund with Isbister? How about Sundin with Hordichuk?) and yet continues to do so. All the while he has consistently coached teams that have been in the bottom of the league in scoring EXCEPT this year. Well that's great only now they're not winning anymore. Or scoring. Or playing with a level of confidence your average beer league team would have.
Read this brutal account of last night's game, just two days after they played their worst game since San Jose a few weeks ago. That sounds like a team not destined for the first round. It sounds like a team waiting for something to get better. Anything.
So what happens now?
1. They keep Vigneault and turn it around when Luongo & Sundin everyone decides to collectively play better. They'll make the playoffs and we'll all forget the month of January ever happened.
2. They keep Vigneault and continue to tank. They move everyone possible for picks in March and rebuild (the likes of which we haven't seen in a long, long time) over the summer.
3. They fire Vigneault out of a cannon, get a new, strong coaching voice in there and try to keep up with the rest of the surging Western conference now. Before it's too late.
We know #1 isn't real and #2 is just too infuriating to think about with the season just half over. Unless we really want to challenge the Islanders for the #1 pick in June, we're left with #3. With apologies to Cole, this IS the right answer.
Denis Savard was fired by the Blackhawks just four games into the season because of a losing streak and a fear offseason expectations weren't going to be met. And my oh my have the Hawks benefited. Peter Laviolette was canned in December from a team he won the Cup with but was battling "consistency" issues. Melrose - the aslyum nature of Tampa aside - was also losing and not getting the best out of players, at least the few he wasn't benching.
No more excuses. No more games like last night (or like against the Devils or the Sharks or the Caps). No more. It's nothing personal Alain. It's just time.
Pull the trigger Mike.