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A goodbye Willie edition

Edmonton Oilers v Vancouver Canucks Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images

Five thoughts on Willie’s firing

1st thought

I had been a defender of Willie D this year. If you look back at the timing of his hiring and the team he was taking over and then the team he had to run over the past three years, you would have to admit that he had no chance of succeeding.

Willie’s first year was his downfall. The Canucks had no reason to have the success they had and expectations for the following years were unrealistic. That success really doomed the changeover to a new team as management and ownership never really could settle on a direction. Re-build…re-tool….it was all fucked up. That first year was Willie’s undoing.

2nd thought

The demise of the Sedins’s play this year was the nail in the coffin to any hope for this team’s immediate future. Any talk of playoffs were really gone by December as people were wondering why the Sedins weren’t scoring and were being scored upon so frequently. And for all the excitement surrounding Bo and his increased scoring, it definitely wasn’t anywhere what was needed to replace the twins.

So when Willie continued to treat the twins like they were first line players even when they weren’t scoring, then things went south quickly.

3rd thought

The main criticism of Willie on twitter was his faith in vets and reluctance to play “young” players. This same fault was slapped on Torts and AV before they were fired as well. I’m not sure why this record keeps getting broken and played over and over. Coaches want to win games, not test rookies for the future. Fans want exciting rookies like Bure, but then will blame the coach when the rookie falters. Remember Horvat’s struggles last year when he was played in situations he wasn’t ready for? Do you remember why Bo was played so much? Sutter was out for most of the year and Willie was forced to play Bo more than he would have liked and it hurt Bo’s numbers and his confidence.

Playing rookies to give them experience is fine, but making sure they play in situations where they have a chance to succeed is important as well. Young players make mistakes, we all know that, but the type of mistakes being made are analyzed. Mistakes that occur on plays where the player could have made a better choice are the plays that drive coaches crazy. Mistakes that are made on plays that are practiced and studied on tape, drive coaches crazy.

Willie benched young players quickly for mistakes while vets stayed in the lineup for the same mistakes.

The only true explanation I can give you, and you may not like it, is that when you start benching Edler for his shit play….and then Sutter….and you would have to eventually sit the Sedins, then the dressing room becomes toxic. Certain fans look at a team at a moment in time and think only about the player at that moment and forget about all the history of that player that has made them a team leader or got them a big salary. Unfortunately, you can’t just sit a guy like Edler for 20-30 games because you hate his play. You don’t pay a guy $5 million year to sit. Money players play, it’s a business first.

4th thought

Willie’s special teams were my personal pet peeve. His loyalty to the Sedins on the 1st PP unit really hurt the team over the past two years. And while I have heard the argument that a few more PP goals wouldn’t have got this team near the playoffs, it would have surely changed the fortunes of some games and changed the way other teams went at the Canucks. Teams were not afraid to take penalties against the Canucks as they knew the Nucks PP was shit. The Sedins past first mentality was a disease that was contagious. When a team goes for the perfect pass to get the perfect shot, it leads to less shots and no chance for a rebound to score on.

5th thought

There are at least five serious names out there for Willie’s replacement. Crawford, Green, Gallant, Sutter and Hitchcock. But let’s be clear, not one of these guys will be the savior of a team that needs probably 3 more years of drafting and trades to be a playoff team. The Sedins should retire after next year and Edler needs to go. Once that happens we have a whole new Canucks era that could be exciting again. But none of these names will carry us there.