After suffering a first-round defeat for the second consecutive season, Vancouver Canucks’ general manager Mike Gillis announced on Wednesday that he had fired head coach Alain Vigneault and two of his assistants, Rick Bowness and Newell Brown. Vigneault was hired on as the team’s head coach in 2006, and when Gillis stepped in for former general manager Dave Nonis in 2008, he opted to keep Vigneault on as head coach.
Vigneault led the Canucks to six Northwest division titles, two Presidents Trophies, and an appearance in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in which the Canucks fell to the Boston Bruins in seven games. Vigneault posted a 313-170-57 while in Vancouver, making him the winningest coach in franchise history.
However, despite his regular season success, Vigneault’s track record in the playoffs was mediocre at best with a 33-32 record. Last season, the Canucks took the best record in the league into the playoffs, but were stunned by Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings who made quick works of the Canucks in just five games. This year, the Canucks were swept by the San Jose Sharks in the opening round of the playoffs. It was the first time in 12 years the Canucks were swept in the playoffs.
After last year’s playoff disappointment against the Kings, Gillis said that Vigneault’s job was safe, and he was expecting more of the players he had given Vigneault to work with. This year however, Gillis’ message was different.
“We’re in a results-oriented business and if you look at the last two playoffs we’ve been in, we were the higher-seeded team that lost the first two games at home,” Gillis said. “We’ve lost consecutive games in the last two playoff years and there comes a point in time where the message has to change and we have to be better. We didn’t get the results we expected and, in this business, you have to get results.”