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Vigneault all smiles

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

If there’s been one member of the Canucks Sports & Entertainment team happiest that hockey is back, it’s Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault.

I won’t go as far as to say he’s had a jump in his step, but Vigneault has been closer to the AV we saw laughing at Vern Fiddler than the one who has heated discussions with players.

Vigneault remained all smiles when he met with the media Friday morning, he even suggested a large media group hug saying that he really missed everyone.

He was serious about having missed the media, not about the hug.

“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said Vigneault, sporting a familiar Canucks jacket, mobbed my cameras and recorders.

“From the months of September, October and November I was down here maybe 10 days to two weeks a month hoping that this would get started and it’s finally here and we’re as ready as we’ll ever be.”

During his 36-minute availability, Vigneault answered what he could, but there are plenty of questions without answers until an NHL schedule is set in stone and the Canucks know what they can and can not do during training camp according to the new CBA.

What we know for sure is the schedule will be condensed and intense, which Vigneault compared to an Olympic year. In doing homework over the lockout, coach read a lot about last year’s shortened NBA season and he also spoke with other coaches who went through the 1994-95 shortened season.

Both Vigneault and Rick Bowness were part of the Ottawa Senators organization in 1994-95, so they’re not completely unfamiliar with less games, yet that season still had a normal training camp and pre-season.

That won’t be the case this season.

“We’re all basically going into uncharted waters. We all have expectations that our guys are going to react to this the right way, but with a five or six day training camp, we don’t really know what we’re going to get. We’ve laid out different scenarios and we’ll see what happens here moving forward.

“Obviously we’ve got a veteran group and we’ve got a lot of confidence in our players.”

Unlike other teams, there was little to no turnover to the Canucks roster or within the coaching ranks. Theoretically that should make hitting the ground running a little easier for Vancouver, if only the Canucks could do something about their traditionally slow starts.

“We’re not playing in October, so I think we’re good that way,” laughed Vigneault. “I think what we’re going to do is focus on Game 1. We’ve got five or six days to get ready for that and our focus is going to be on getting ready for that first game, then after we’ve played it, we’re going to skip to Game 2. Then after Game 2, we’re going to skip to Game 3. That’s the only way that we can do this.”

Regardless of how strenuous the schedule looks, as Vigneualt pointed out, the Canucks face more travel than every other team every season. They’ve managed to overcome it more times than not; let’s not forget about back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy wins.

“For us here in Vancouver, we’re used to the challenges, we’ve been through this before. Obviously it’s going to be hard, but I don’t think it’s anything we haven’t gone through before.”

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