Monday, June 23, 2014

Vancouver Canucks Hire Coach Willie Desjardins

Doug Lidster could follow to assist the NHL's newest head coach
Willie Desjardins (Credit: Colin Peddle/AHL)
Texas Stars head coach Willie Desjardins has been named the next head coach of the NHL's Vancouver Canucks this Monday morning. Following the regular season, he was on many teams' radar as a trendy head coach pick. With the Calder Cup win, his stock soared. In addition to being connected with Vancouver, he was also considered in Nashville, Carolina, Florida and Pittsburgh.

The early favorite for many was the Vancouver Canucks. Though there were flirtations with the Pittburgh Penguins over the past 72 hours, he ended up with the first team that many speculated on. With Desjardins' western Canada connections, it seems to be a great fit. The Canucks are a team looking to have a resurgence. After heading to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011, the Canucks are looking to build back to their prior heights. Desjardins has three championships across two leagues so far in his head coaching career and has shown a track record of taking teams to the top.

Toby Petersen spoke about Willie's style and his ability to inspire a team.

"He's regarded a lot as a players coach. That's not to say he's easy on players. He's actually really hard on players. If you look at the guys here, the comment I made to some of the staff is that guys want to win for Willie. He has that power to draw the team together and pull for each other. We don't want to let anyone down."

On the home front, the Texas Stars will now look for a new head coach for the third time in their history. The team has twice had their head coach leave to lead an NHL squad, a pretty solid track record. That success and the emphasis that Dallas is placing on minor league development make the Texas Stars an attractive destination for anyone looking to take that step in their career.

Doug Lidster (Credit: Josh Rasmussen/Texas Stars)
Early bets would put good money on Doug Lidster. Coach Desjardins was always keen to point out that the Stars' success was as much due to Lidster as it was due to himself. He has been a head coach before in the OHL. Other candidates will surely arise over time, including former Monarchs coach Mark Morris, but Lidster has to be the early favorite.

However, one of the rumors around the non-hire in Pittsburgh was Desjardins' concern with the assistant coaching staff. It was very set in Pittsburgh but is wide open in Vancouver. It opens the door for Doug Lidster to join Desjardins with the Canucks. If that is true, the Canucks coaching staff will consist of three former Texas Stars coach (Glen Gulutzan was retained from the previous season).

There is the assistant coach domino that then falls. Texas could call on its ECHL affiliate and pull up Brad Ralph as one possibility. AHL head coaching positions aren't easy to predict and assistant coaches are at least twice as difficult. More will become known over the next few weeks as the team progresses toward development camp in July.

For my part personally, I have always enjoyed talking with Willie. He can be cagey at times with his signature, "Oh, I don't know" in response to injury questions. But he's a very bright hockey mind, and it has been a pleasure to interact with him on a nightly basis over the past two seasons.

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

5 comments:

  1. I'm not sure why Lidster would prefer to be an assistant in Van rather than HC here. Yeah, it's the NHL (and more money) but what would his path to be a NHL Head Coach there rather than here. Texas has a pretty nice group of players here presently and no reason to think that won't be much different over the next two years. Texas has made two NHL Head Coaches in 5 years and I don't see Lidster's path being better in Vancouver.

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  2. Hope this works out for Willie. I'm not convinced Vancouver's front office has a clue what they're doing up there.

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    1. Interesting comment, from all reports Willie had other options, including Pittsburgh. Why would he go somewhere that he didn't feel was his best chance in the future?

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    2. Term and assistant coaches were huge. 3 years vs. 2 is big. It will take a year for the team to be remolded in his view. then he'll have two to work it into a winner. Personally, I think it's 50/50 if they make the playoffs this year (given how tough the West is). But then they will in 15-16

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  3. Best of luck to Willie. Marvelous two year job here in Texas. Hope Doug stays. They are dropping like flies. Steven nice to finally meet you in person after the rally.

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