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Highs and lows of Alain Vigneault's time in Vancouver

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- Alain Vigneault leaves the Vancouver Canucks as the franchise leader in victories and winning percentage. His 313-170-57 coaching record includes two Presidents' Trophies, six Northwest Division titles and one trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

So after being fired on Wednesday, it's no surprise that a look back at his seven years behind the Canucks' bench were filled with more highs than lows:

June 2006: The Canucks hire Vigneault after he spends a season coaching their American Hockey League affiliate, the Manitoba Moose. Vigneault and fellow newcomer Roberto Luongo lead a team that missed the playoffs the year before to 49 victories and a Northwest Division title in 2006-07. Vancouver loses to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but Vigneault wins the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's top coach and Luongo finishes second in voting for the Vezina Trophy.

June 2008: After the Canucks' season ends with a thud -- they lost seven of their final eight games and missed the playoffs for the only time under Vigneault -- general manager Dave Nonis is fired. New GM Mike Gillis is widely expected to fire Vigneault as well; instead, after a review that included weeks of daily meetings, Gillis opts not to make a change.


Vigneault out in Vancouver

By Kevin Woodley - correspondent
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May 2009: The Canucks finish atop the Northwest Division in 2008-09, largely due to the line of Alexandre Burrows with Daniel and Henrik Sedin – a surprise move by Vigneault to promote the checking winger that is still paying dividends. The Canucks roll over the St. Louis Blues in a first-round sweep and appear to be on their way to a 3-1 series lead against the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round. But they try to sit on the lead in Game 4 and allow the Blackhawks to the game with 2:44 left and win it in overtime. Chicago wins the next two handily to end the Canucks' season.

May 2010: Vigneault leads the Canucks to another Northeast Division title, but the postseason again ends too soon. Vancouver makes an impressive comeback against the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, sparked by Vigneault moving Mikael Samuelsson onto the top line. But the Canucks again lose in six games to the Blackhawks. The disappointment is muted somewhat when captain Henrik Sedin, who got increased starts in the offensive zone from Vigneault, followed up his Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's top scorer by winning the Hart Trophy as Most Valuable Player.

June 2011: The Canucks set franchise records with 54 wins and 117 points en route to their first Presidents' Trophy as the top regular-season team. Daniel Sedin follows his twin brother as the scoring leader, keeping the Art Ross Trophy in the family, Ryan Kesler wins the Selke Trophy as the NHL's top defensive forward, and Vigneault is nominated for the Jack Adams Award. The Canucks lead the NHL in goals scored and goals allowed, and their power play, which for the first time featured Kesler in front of the net on the first unit rather than anchoring the second, also tops the League. The Canucks survive a first-round scare from the Blackhawks that includes going back and forth between Luongo and Cory Schneider in goal before winning Game 7 in overtime to spark the franchise's third trip to the Stanley Cup Final. But after leading the series against the Boston Bruins 2-0 and 3-2, the Canucks lose Game 6 in Boston and are beaten 4-0 in Game 7 at home.

May 2012: The Canucks bounce back from the disappointment of coming within one victory of the franchise's first championship by winning a second straight Presidents' Trophy. But they are bounced easily by the Los Angeles Kings in five games in the first round. Vigneault switches goaltenders midway through the series, replacing Luongo with Schneider -- who played well, but not well enough to cool off the Kings, who went to win the Stanley Cup.

May 2013: Vigneault leads the Canucks to a sixth Northwest Division title in the lockout-shortened season despite several key injuries, gaping roster holes up front and the melodrama in goal as Gillis opts not to trade Luongo. However, the third-seeded Canucks are swept out of the opening round by the sixth-seeded San Jose Sharks -- setting the stage for Vigneault's departure.

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