With a year left on his contract, and an unexpectedly premature exit from his team this year, Alain Vigneault had unfinished business in Vancouver. The Canucks decided that giving him some job security in the completion of his mandate as the team and their coach agreed to an extension.
Like many NHL deals, terms of the contract are not immediately available.
This is the second member of Canucks leadership to be brought back following Vancouver’s first-round exit from this year’s postseason at the hands of the Cup Finalist Kings. Previously the club had retained general manager Mike Gillis with a contract extension.
Below the fold, you can take a look at Vigneault’s bona fides and some speculation on what the retention of Vigneault and Gillis means for Roberto Luongo.
Vigneault’s track record gave Vancouver plenty of confidence in returning their head coach to his station behind the bench. Per the club:
Vigneault, 51, was named the 16th Head Coach in Canucks history on June 20, 2006. In 492 games behind the Canucks bench, Vigneault has guided the team to a record of 287-155-50 and the highest winning percentage in franchise history (.634). In his six seasons with Vancouver, Vigneault has led the Canucks to two Presidents’ Trophies, five Northwest Division Titles, and five 100-plus point seasons. Under Vigneault’s leadership, the Canucks have made five playoff appearances, and compiled a playoff record of 33-31. Vigneault has won more playoff games than any coach in franchise history.
With the Canadiens considering a major franchise overhaul and Vigneault satisfying several conditions for consideration in Montreal, the Canucks were wise to lock up Vigneault for the time being. But with the security will come further expectations for Vigneault.
Dismissing him following the Kings dismissal of the Canucks would have been regarded as the signs of a shake-up. The vote of confidence includes an unspoken dictum – get us the Cup we so desperately want. With that expectation his subsequent success will be measured.
Of utmost importance to that potential success will be resolving the issue of who is in net. With Gillis and Vigneault back, the smart money is on Luongo being shopped. Someone has to take the fall for the failure.
Though he backstopped the team to the Cup Finals last year, and continues to provide solid if no longer spectacular goaltending, Luongo’s high profile failures have made him an easy choice as the franchise’s scapegoat. Gillis will be working determinedly leading up to June’s draft to get value for him.