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.