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Smiles for Fin

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault is the winningest coach in franchise history.

He’s also a Jack Adams Award winner as the NHL’s coach of the year.

He’s also led the Canucks to back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy wins and the Stanley Cup Final.

He’s also no match for Fin.

For what it’s worth, none of the Canucks coaching staff could compete with Fin.

Vigneault, Rick Bowness, Newell Brown, Darryl Williams, Roland Melanson, Stan Smyl, Lorne Henning, Laurence Gilman and Fin visited the BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver Thursday, spending time with kids and families in need of a boost.

Coach Vigneault is a leader behind the bench and it comes natural to him, he was first into rooms greeting children and their parents, who were excited he and his staff took the time to visit.

Then Fin would stick his head in and ruin everything – at least for the coaches.

For some reason the children were no longer interested in talking to the brains behind their favourite team, instead hoping Fin would bite them on the head.


“This doesn’t surprise me at all,” laughed Vigneault. “It is Fin after all, he’s a legend.”

It wasn’t just Vigneault being blown off by the children. Brown and Williams, who toured the hospital alongside AV in one group, also got the cold shoulder as soon as Fin made an appearance.

It was all Fin, all the time. But that led to all smiles, all the time on the faces of children and that was a-okay with Vigneault and company.

Smiles were shared by three-year-old Isaiah, four-year-old Samara, 12-year-old Abby, four-month-old Isabelle, 12-year-old Dylan (celebrating his birthday), one-year-old Am’Mar, 19-year-old Tyson, six-week-old Scarlett, 20-month-old Ryland, 10-year-old Jordan, 10-year-old Madison, 17-year-old Courtney and five-year-old Christian, who gave Vigneault a run for his money.

“He was really hoping you’d come visit,” said Christian’s dad. “He’s been doing his impression of Vern Fiddler’s Kevin Bieksa impression all morning to make you laugh.”

Christian was too shy to do his impression for coach, but he piped up to share some advice as Vigneault was leaving.

“Play Bieksa more.”

All coach could do was chuckle.

The children perked up his day as much as he made theirs.

“It’s a special moment for us to be able to come here for a small portion of the day and brighten up the kid’s day,” said Vigneault. “Their parents seem to be so strong and all the kids seem to have so much courage that all we can do is our small little part and hopefully they’ll all get better.”

For Canucks assistant coach Darryl Williams, a Newfoundland product with a nine-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter, the hospital visit was overwhelming.

He visited one boy with was playing Minecraft on his computer; Williams’ son recently had a Minecraft birthday party. He spent time with another who is obsessed with playing Lego; both Williams’ children love building anything they can with Lego.

“As a parent sometime you take for granted the lifestyle that you lead and the health that you have,” said Williams. “To see what the parents go through here and what the kids go through, it’s overwhelming.

“You put yourself in their shoes and I don’t know what they go through, but I imagine you’re staring at those four walls with a lot on your mind and your child there, so to have coach AV and Fin here visiting them, it’s great.

"Every time Fin goes in, the smiles the kids get is amazing.”

It turns out taking a backseat to Fin isn’t so bad after all.

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