In the rather unexpected news column, Canucks' Head Coach Willie Desjardins will miss all of training camp and preseason due to hip surgery.
Vancouver, B.C. – The Vancouver Canucks announced today that Head Coach Willie Desjardins underwent successful surgery to address an acute flare up of his preexisting hip condition. Although he will not be in attendance for the Young Stars tournament and Training Camp, Desjardins is expected to be back behind the Canucks bench by opening night.
"Willie has been dealing with the chronic discomfort for a long time and our medical staff has been monitoring it since he joined us last year. Unfortunately his hip deteriorated rapidly in recent weeks and it required immediate attention," said General Manager Jim Benning. "Willie's expected to recover quickly and will be connected every day until he's ready to be back in person."
Coaching duties for Penticton's Young Stars tournament will be led as usual by Utica Comets' Head Coach Travis Green. Training Camp and some pre-season duties will be shared by Canucks Assistant Coaches Doug Lidster, Glen Gulutzan and Perry Pearn.
It goes without saying that it's pretty unusual to not have your Head Coach leading training camp, really the only time a coach can instil in the players the systems and philosophies he wishes to employ during the season.
Now, Head Coaches often leave many details to their assistants during training camp anyway, and Lidster, Gulutzan and Pearn are more than capable of running training camp themselves. Of course Coach Willie will also have constant contact and input into the proceedings, but one has to wonder what kind (if any) impact his absence might have.
To me, given Desjardins' much-discussed reluctance to insert young players into his lineup, its curious to think whether this will have any affect on Jake Virtanen's mission of making the big team this year, along with taking away the other rookies' opportunities to leave a lasting impression on the boss.
All this of course will be revealed in due time, and for now we wish "Titanium Hip Willie" a quick recovery and a return to health very soon.