New Era…New Coach

Let me get this out of the way first.  This is not a Willie Desjardins hate piece.  I do not enjoy advocating for a man to be replaced in his chosen line of work.  I do think that Willie D has had some hand in the progression of Bo Horvat and other young Canucks despite what myself and many fans view as odd and often bizarre player deployment.

That said, with the way Jim Benning handled the trade deadline by finally moving out veteran pieces for younger assets, he signalled the “start” of a rebuild that he has been trying to chip away at since he arrived in Vancouver.  By keeping Desjardins around next year he would muddy the message all over again.  Whether it’s fair or not, Willie D was brought in to coach in two directions…develop younger players and give the old core another shot at the playoffs.

Now that someone has finally smelled the rebuilding roses, the team needs to bring in a new coach who knows that they are here to grow a young group…playoffs or not, come what may.  A coach who will willingly play his budding young players in different situations and keep playing them, warts and all.  A coach who won’t staple a young player to the bench the moment they make a mistake.  I’m not saying the coach shouldn’t hold players accountable, only that the coach should give these young players a little more leash..allow them to be creative if that’s the kind of player they are.  Let the player play to his strengths and help him improve where he needs to..but let him do it on the ice, not only in the weight room, video room or watching games from the pressbox.

This team is going to have some mediocre seasons ahead as they grow, but there are finally some pieces in the system to get excited about.  Sometimes young players make mistakes….guess what?…sometimes those mistakes make for exciting hockey.  Having a coach who will allow those exciting players to keep trying to make those plays might just entice a few more fans back into the building during what is sure to be a few years of growing pains.  Bringing in a new coach cements a clear message to the fans and I think just as importantly, the players…that the rebuild is on.

No more serving two masters, no more mixed messages or “delicate dances”.  The coaching staff, the players and the fans need to hear a clear message so that all involved can grab onto the same end of the rope and start pulling.  There are exciting pieces in the system at all positions.  The foundation has been laid….no…not Brandon Sutter…he is just one of the building blocks to get the team where it needs to go.  This off season is the time.  The time thank Willie Desjardins for his service and bring in a new coach.  The New Era began at the trade deadline and can progress further by sending another new message with a new coach who knows exactly why they are here.

Send the message Jim Benning…..and send it clearly.  The rebuild is on in earnest and with it comes a new coach.


3 thoughts on “New Era…New Coach”

  1. Congratulations on joining the ever growing cadre of Canuck commentators. I was heartened to see that that have declared yourself a person who looks for the positive and won’t focus on the negative. There are enough internet stat head trolling commentators trying so hard to be contrarians because they believe that the level of their vitriol will distinguish their voice from the professional writers who are dogmatically following the the truism that bad news outsells good news. To enter the toxic environment of Canuck commenting claiming to be a positive person must be a bit daunting.

    Choosing to call for the firing of the coach is a pretty tough way to establish credibility of being a positive commentator. Using the shaky memes that were created by the the most negative writers to support your argument for change makes it even harder for readers to view you in a different light than the established haters.

    Saying that you not writing just another hate piece on Willie Desjardins is a nice thought but then you call for a new coach to be a symbol of new era and base your argument on:
    a) keeping Willie will muddy the message behind a rebuild
    b) Willie has treated young players unfairly and stapled them to the bench if they make mistakes
    c) a new coach would be clear on why they were chosen to lead the team

    Willie Desjardins has been a professional coach for at least 17 seasons and his teams have made the playoffs in 13 of those campaigns. Three times he has led his team to a championship. If making the playoffs defines a successful season then Willie has a stellar success rate of over 75%.

    He has coached teams at the university or major junior level for ten years and over 700 games. More than 100 of those games were playoff matches where the margins for mistakes are much thinner. In every single year that Willie coached a team for the complete season that team made the playoffs. Twice Willie took his teams to the highest level of winning a championship. At the junior level, where a coach’s main job is to teach and develop players into competitors that are attractive to the pro level, Willie’s teams won an incredible 60% of their playoff games. Consider that the nature of junior teams is to constantly rebuild and there are no dynasties because everyone eventually graduates about every four years.

    At the pro level he has coached for seven years as either a head coach or an associate coach. He coached for 2 years at the AHL level where the emphasize is also to teach and develop players into full time NHL players. At this level Willie’s team made the playoffs in both years with an average winning percentage of 66% and in his second year he won the Calder Cup.

    Willie Desjardins has a proven record of success in teaching and developing players. This year he has established a level of accountability that he has consistently maintained even when his players were faced with a negligible chance of making the playoffs. He has enforced this accountability for rookies, vets, call ups, try outs, North American and European players . Because he has created high expectations from all players in all situations and he has been consistent in the standards expected he has earned the respect of his players and they have for the most part played hard for him no matter the situation.

    In no way will retaining a coach with a proven record of developing players at all levels muddy the message of a rebuild. Expecting high standards from all your players is an important component of building a winning culture through the tough times and will pay dividends in the good times.

    Buying into the narrative created by the those who make up the stat head army and the main stream media does not display much original thinking. Saying that Willie has stapled a young player to the bench because he has made a mistake is a gross over simplification that chooses to ignore the facts. Players have been given a clear message of what is expected from each of them according to their talent level, experience and position. If they don’t live up to those expectations there are consequences. This is building those crucial high standards that will will lead to a successful team when you have enough players that can maintain them in all situations. If you want to make a valid point instead of a copycat sweeping generalization then name names and give examples that can allow for intelligent debate.

    Finally, there is no evidence that Willie is not clear on why he was chosen to lead this team. If you think that there are mixed messages then perhaps your complaint is with the level of team management that is responsible for those long term goals that you seem to doubt.

    I’m glad there is a new Canuck blog to read but I hope you can raise above the commentary that currently dominates the discussion. Please keep trying, especially if you really are going to offer news and discussion on prospects and not just rehash tired old topics.

    1. I appreciate your feedback. You have written a well thought out response and as such, maybe you should look into starting up a blog of your own. As I have written in my bio, I am new to the blogging world. I have my opinions that I have formed as a fan who watches games and follows the team. My opinions are my own, though some may run parallel with how some other fans see the team.

      I have used no “memes” made by outside sources and I’m not really sure which “media sources” even produce the same visual content that I have used here. I get that my work will not be for everybody.

      The point of this post was not about Willie Desjardins’ past success, but rather what this club needs going forward. Yes, he has had success at every level….except this one. The team is going into a rebuild but he plays fellows like Jayson Megna ahead of young players who actually have a future here. I’m all for players earning what they get for ice time, which is why I mentioned that Willie has had success with some players here….but I cannot for the life of me see why Desjardins has taken a perfectly good depth player like Megna and heaped first line minutes and PP time on him. This has made Megna to object of vitriol in the market when he could have been a decent story as a call up who has lasted most of the season on the roster. I can’t find any evidence where Megna has “earned” any of the favourable assignments that he has received this season….especially ahead of the younger players who will actually make up the core of this team going forward.

      I feel that the current coach has time and again leaned on his established players instead of allowing his younger guys to learn how to play in different situations. Mike Chaput out with the twins? Why is this a thing? Chaput “might” make the team as a depth player again next season, but he will never be a top six player in this league. Whereas players with offensive upside are jammed into the bottom six and given limited minutes or not played altogether.

      I’m all for bringing in a new coach and giving him a clear message as to the direction of the team.

      Thanks for your input and comment.

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