New contract extends through 2012-2013 season
For as much as Alain Vigneault has accomplished as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, there have been questions since Mike Gillis took over the role of General Manager as to whether or not Vigneault was his guy.
On Thursday Gillis stated loud and clear that he backs Vigneault to the fullest.
The fourth-year Canucks bench boss signed a three-year contract extension that will keep him with the club through the 2012-2013 season.
“This is an exciting day for me and my coaching staff,” said Vigneault. “Having the opportunity to work with the Aquilini family, Mike and his staff and our players has been very rewarding. I love working and coaching in this tremendous hockey city and look forward to continuing to build on our previous success.”
Often when new GMs are brought in one of the first orders of business is cleaning house. That typically includes canning the coach in favour of someone the general manager brings in himself.
GILLIS STANDS BEHIND AV
Gillis stated right off the bat that he was going to give Vigneault every chance in the world to succeed and he has thus far.
Last season the 48-year-old Quebec-native coached Vancouver to a 45-27-10 record and its third Northwest Division title in five seasons and second in three years with Vigneault at the helm.
The Canucks made it as far as the Western Conference Semifinals last season before bowing out of the playoffs. Gillis was impressed with what Vigneault has shown him over the past year and that made re-signing the Jack Adams Award winner a no-brainer.
“This is a significant announcement for our hockey club,” said Gillis. “Alain and his staff have done an excellent job leading our team to two Division titles in three years. I believe strongly in the partnership between management, coaches and players and we are all committed to building a championship team here in Vancouver.”
Of Vancouver’s 16 all-time coaches, Vigneault was the fastest to reach the 100-win plateau. He accomplished the feat early last season before collecting his 200th win and 500th appearance as a head coach in the NHL later on in the year.
Success has found Vigneault, but by no means did he take the easy road to achieve it.
After spending six years coaching in the QMJHL, split between the Trois Rivieres Draveurs and Hull Olympiques from 1986-1992, Vigneault was hired on as an assistant coach with the expansion Ottawa Senators.
Three eye-opening years later Vigneault was back in the Q, this time with the Beauport Harfangs, but it didn’t take long for him to get another shot at the NHL. After only two seasons with the Harfangs, Vigneault got the call from the Montreal Canadiens.
Prior to the 1997-98 season, Vigneault became the second youngest head coach in Canadiens franchise history when he took over for Mario Tremblay at age 36. For Vigneault, coaching his beloved home-province Canadiens was a fairytale, one that lasted 20 games into his fourth season.
Two seasons after Vigneault and the Canadiens parted ways, he was back in the QHMJL, but not for long again; the Canucks made him part of their organization in 2005-06 when they hired him to coach the Manitoba Moose.
One season later he was behind the bench in Vancouver for his third NHL tour of duty and second as head coach.
Two hundred and forty-six games have since passed with him behind the bench and the Canucks look to be in a position to put together another solid season this year. And the year after. And the year after. And the year after that.
For as good of a coach as Vigneault is, that should be plenty of time for him to lead Vancouver to the Promised Land.