Three key issues the new Canucks coach must address

Dec 19 2017, 3:39 pm

Since Alain Vigneault and company were fired last week, the Canucks have begun their search for a new head coach.

Although Dallas Eakins was interviewed this week regarding the head coaching vacancy, the Canucks traditionally like to take their time when making important decisions surrounding the organization (think of the Roberto Luongo trade saga).

They also might want to interview other candidates before making a decision. One of the other rumoured candidates for the job is Los Angeles Kings assistant coach John Stevens, who is still working with the Kings right now as they battle the Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final.

Here are three issues the new Canucks coach, whoever it may be, will have to tackle after he is hired.

1. Get through to the young guys

The Canucks need to get through to their young guys in order to have success. This is especially key for their future since the amount of young players in the organization is fairly slim. The Canucks have a fairly veteran roster with an average age of 28.9 (4th oldest in the NHL)

Two young Canucks’ players that could use a boost from the new head coach are Zack Kassian and Alex Edler. After Kassian scored five goals in seven games to begin the season, he scored just two goals in his next 32 games, as he watched his ice time diminish. Edler was an all-star in 2011-2012 season, but had a bit of a down year in 2013, coughing up the puck way too much as he finished as a minus five. It was the first time he was a minus player in his career.

This is where coaching candidate Dallas Eakins seems intriguing. As he has helped quite a few young guys improve their game with his AHL team, the Toronto Marlies. Imagine if Eakins could ignite Kassian the way he ignited Nazem Kadri with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

2. Rejuvenate the powerplay

During their Stanley Cup run in 2011, the Canucks had the best powerplay in the regular season. Just a short two years later, the Canucks finished with the 22 best power play out of 30 teams this season.

The same players make up the powerplay that the Canucks had two years ago. Maybe a healthy Ryan Kesler is the simple solution, however one player is unlikely to change an entire powerplay.

The blame can’t fall squarely on the shoulders of Vigneault as assisstant Newell Brown was in charge of the powerplay, but, regardless, the new coaching staff needs to find a solution if they want to have any prolonged playoff success.

3. Translate regular season success into playoff success

This would highlight the main reason Vigneault was fired after coaching the Canucks for seven seasons. Despite a 313-170-57 regular season record, he had a playoff record of 33-35. After going up 2-0 in their series against the Boston Bruins in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, the Canucks have a disasterous 2-12 playoff record, and have been ousted in three straight series against the Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks.

It may be a blunt statement to say that the new Canucks’ coach must implement playoff success, but the story of the Canucks playoff success in recent history makes Romeo and Juilet look like a fairy tale. The new Canucks’ coach must find a way to motivate this team in the playoffs if he wants to last as long as Vigneault did.


Written by Trevor Beggs, a Contributor at Vancity Buzz. Follow Trevor on Twitter @beggs37.

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