Ending Idle speculation driven by some in Canucks Nation and their desperate attempt to scapegoat someone for this season, Trevor Linden said yesterday that Willie Desjardins' job is safe. Speaking to Ben Kuzma, Linden said management handed Desjardins a challenge this year by giving him a young lineup. They are happy with the way he responded. Linden also said the strides taken by several young players speaks well to the way Desjardins connects with his players.
This move makes perfect sense to me. Not only have the Canucks become a younger team over the course of the year, injuries to Brandon Sutter and, more recently, Alex Edler, have deprived Desjardins of key roster players. It would be deeply unfair to pin the blame for missing the playoffs on him. More cynically, any management group would put off firing a coach for as long as possible. Many managers get to hire one new coach. It's a rare management group that is allowed to hire two new coaches.
Linden also said they would like to retain Travis Green as coach in Utica. However, Green has an out-clause in his contract and may well be courted by an NHL team this summer. Some have talked up Green as a replacement for Desjardins, and we're sure to hear loud moaning from some if Green is hired as an NHL coach this summer. Travis Green may very well become a good NHL coach. Then again, every year it seems an AHL coach gets talked up as the sexy coaching hire of the summer. It happened with Dallas Eakins, it happened with Willie Desjardins, and now it's happening with Travis Green. If he leaves, I wish him all the best. But it never made sense to me that if the Canucks were to fire Desjardins, they would replace him with another coach who lacks NHL coaching experience.