Canucks to reveal coaching plans
Elliott Pap speculates on announcements made with the Vancouver Canucks Thursday morning.
"The Vancouver Canucks are expected today to clarify their coaching plans for next season, and apparently they don't include assistants Barry Smith and Mike Kelly."
"'We will be announcing something [today],' general manager Mike Gillis said cryptically Wednesday night."
"Gillis would not confirm that Smith and Kelly were fired, which was reported on TSN's website Wednesday."
"'No comment,' Gillis said."
Indeed the Canucks did make announcements regarding the coaching staff this morning, which included an extension for Vigneault
and releasing assistant coaches
, Mike Kelly and Barry Smith.
"Smith, a holdover from the Marc Crawford regime, was extended last summer for two more seasons while Kelly was brought aboard by Vigneault when the latter was hired."
"The 47-year-old Smith has been a member of the Canuck organization since 1999. He worked with the organization's minor-league affiliates in Syracuse, Kansas City and Manitoba before moving up to the big club. He also worked with the Moose during the 2004-05 lockout season."
"Kelly, 48, spent the 2005-06 season in Manitoba when Vigneault was head coach of the Moose."
"Kelly previously coached the major junior Brandon Wheat Kings and North Bay Centennials as well as Canadian universities."
"One of Kelly's main responsibilities under Vigneault was running the power play, which finished 18th last season at 17.1 per cent. In the game in which Vancouver was eliminated from the playoffs, a 2-1 loss to Edmonton, the Canucks' power play went for 1-for-8 despite spending nearly 18 minutes with the man advantage."
Canucks coach fires two assistants. What does that tell you?
While Ben Kuzma wasn't completely sure of the fate of the Canucks coaching staff Wednesday night, he had a pretty good try at it, reportin this in Thursday's Province - prior to the official announcements made this morning.
"Assistant coaches Barry Smith and Mike Kelly have been fired by the Vancouver Canucks."
"Head coach Alain Vigneault delivered the news to them Wednesday, which would seem to indicate that he and associate coach Rick Bowness will be retained by new general manager Mike Gillis. Smith and Kelly each had a year left on their contracts."
"The Canucks could fill the coaching vacancies from within by promoting Manitoba Moose coach Scott Arniel and assistant Brad Berry."
With many critics failing the Canucks defence first style the past two years, Kuzma wonders if Vigneault can fulfill the style Gillis wants for the team moving forward.
"Gillis says scouting, player selection and development are priorities. The hiring of Scott Mellanby as an advisor to aid pro scouting is a step."
"However, the burning question that Vigneault must have answered is that he can coach a more up-tempo system. That is of paramount importance because Gillis wants the accent on an aggressive team that will improve on its 23rd-ranked offence that averaged 2.60 goals per game."
"It's not as if Vigneault, the Jack Adams Trophy winner for the 2006-07 season, suddenly forgot how to coach. The Canucks were 17-7-4 in November and December, and 6-1-5 in February. But in January, March and April combined, the club was just 11-18-1 and much of that had to due with a rash of injuries."
"The Canucks lost 277 man games to injury and had Lukas Krajicek, Aaron Miller, Brendan Morrison, Taylor Pyatt and Mason Raymond
out for much of the stretch drive."
"In his season-ending address, Vigneault took exception to theories that he somehow lost his team and that he's too defensive minded. He remained steadfast that offensive hockey is a concept he can wrap his head around."