After three seasons yielding a single playoff berth and two disappointing/injury riddled years, the Vancouver Canucks have decided to move forward without Willie Desjardins.
Desjardins took the reins of a team on a downward trajectory and tried his best to correct the course. This was no easy task, the roster he was working was getting staler by the moment and the absurd amount of injuries this team faced in the past two years didn’t give him a lot of time to develop chemistry within his lines.
Willie may have had more fans on his side if he’d been willing to give his younger players more ice time. His fixation on giving ice time to the likes of Jayson Megna, Michael Chaput and Derek Dorsett over some of the younger, more offensively gifted players absolutely played a part in souring his image within the fanbase.
"Now it looks like YOU'VE been scratched....permanently..." whispered Goldobin into Coach Willie's ear as they shook hands to end the season— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) April 10, 2017
That being said, we saw Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi and Markus Granlund take huge steps forward in their careers under Desjardins’ guidance. The team was willing to play hard for him and clearly respected him.
After the Torterella era this hard working, team first mentality was enough to overlook any potential wrinkles tied with the Canucks position in the standings. The Canucks have never dealt with an onslaught of injuries similar to what they’ve faced in the last two seasons. You can’t get water from a stone and you can’t get to the playoffs with a team that looked more like the Utica Comets than the Vancouver Canucks.
But something had to give. Someone had to take the fall. And more often than not, that responsibility falls on the boss behind the bench.
We’ve also likely seen the last of the Doug’s (Lidster & Jarvis) with Desjardins moving on his way.
With Willie gone, you can assume Lidster/Jarvis are as well. #Canucks new coach will want his own guys.— Irfaan Gaffar (@sportsnetirf) April 10, 2017
I sure hope this isn’t the case, I actually enjoyed seeing the effects Doug Lidster’s had on our young defence. This up and coming core has taken some strong steps forward in their game and I’d like to see what they can do with more time under the wing of Lidster.
The big question going into the off season isn’t just where the Canucks will draft, it’s who takes Willie’s place. Travis Green is the obvious choice, he’s doing great things with our prospects in Utica, has a familiarity with the majority of our players and deserves a shot at the NHL level.
If Green happens to remain in the AHL, there are a few strong applicants in the wings. Including Ken Hitchcock, Marc Crawford, Lindy Ruff, Gerrard Gallant and Kevin Dineen. We’ll just have to wait and see where this wild off season and wacky management team take us.