UPDATE: Canucks fire head coach

Canucks fire head coach Willie Desjardins.

  • Apr. 10, 2017 10:06 a.m.

UPDATE: 11:23 a.m.

The Canadian Press

The Vancouver Canucks have fired head coach Willie Desjardins after a miserable 2016-17 season.

The team announced the move today, less than 24 hours after losing its eighth straight game in regulation.

The Canucks finished 29th in the NHL’s overall standings.

In three seasons with Vancouver, Desjardins compiled a 109-110-27 record.

The 60-year-old led the club to the playoffs as a rookie NHL head coach in 2014-15, but the rebuilding Canucks took a big step backwards last season and things actually got worse in 2016-17.

The team also let go assistants Doug Lidster and Perry Pearn.

A news conference is scheduled for Monday afternoon.

“It’s been a challenging season and we all share responsibility for the results,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning said in a statement. “However, we felt this change was necessary as we continue to develop a young team and look ahead to the future.”

Named the 18th head coach in franchise history in June 2014, Desjardins looked to have things back on track early this fall when Vancouver was perfect through its first four games. But the fast start was a mostly smoke and mirrors as the Canucks became first team in NHL history to win its first three games of a season while never leading in regulation.

Desjardins said following Saturday’s 3-2 home loss to Edmonton that his future in Vancouver was on his mind.

“It’s hard not to think about that, but the one thing you do as a coach is I coach,” said Desjardins. “I can’t control that.

“Every day I will work to make our team the best it can be and others will decide what we are going to do. I like our team and I like how the guys competed. We didn’t get the results we wanted, but I liked how the guys competed.”

And Desjardins also understood the potential sense of finality with Vancouver’s last home game.

“There could be,” he said. “You always realize that is a possibility.

“You don’t worry about that thought. If it is, I’ll worry about that when it comes.”

Vancouver committed to a defensive system this season under Desjardins that sacrificed offence. After their 4-0-0 start, the Canucks went on a nine-game losing streak (0-8-1) that included getting shut out four times in five games.

While rumours concerning his job security swirled, Desjardins seemed to have righted the ship by mid-season — the Canucks were 23-20-6 on Jan. 25 and occupied the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot — before things cratered in spectacular fashion.

A 3-0 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 26 where Vancouver didn’t register a shot until just before the midway point of the second period started a downward spiral that would see the club go an NHL-worst 7-23-3 over its final 33 games — a 42-point pace over 82 games.

All told, the Canucks wound up 30-43-9 in 2016-17, including 10-25-6 over their final 41 games.

During his time in Vancouver, Desjardins’ deployment of superstar twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin, along with host of other players, was a lightning rod for criticism.

This season, a lot of the questions surrounded his loyalty to certain members of Vancouver’s veteran core — he leaned heavily on the likes of Brandon Sutter, Luca Sbisa and Alexander Edler — as well as fringe NHLers like Michael Chaput and Jayson Megna.

The power play and penalty-kill were also disasters, ranked 29th and tied for 28th, respectively.

Vancouver dealt veterans Jannik Hansen and Alexandre Burrows prior to the trade deadline for assets as the rebuild finally got into full swing, but things went from bad to worse for the injury-riddled club that has now missed the playoffs three of the last four years.

The Canucks scored just 178 goals this season to set a new franchise low (not including lockout-shortened campaigns), eclipsing the 186 goals of 2015-16.

Their 12 straight games without a victory at Rogers Arena (0-9-3) dating back to an overtime win on Feb. 18 to close out the schedule also broke a franchise mark previously set during the team’s inaugural 1970-71 campaign.

Just 2-13-2 over their final 17 games overall, the Canucks’ last victory in regulation in Vancouver came all the way back on Jan. 20.

As the 2016-17 season wore on, Desjardins became more candid with the media, especially regarding his expectations of some of the team’s younger players.

While there weren’t many highlights, Desjardins can be credited with helping develop Bo Horvat, who led Vancouver in scoring this season, Sven Baertschi and Markus Granlund into legitimate offensive contributors.

In his first year with the Canucks in 2014-15, Desjardins steered the team to a 101-point campaign and second place in the Pacific Division before falling to Calgary in a tough six-game first-round playoff series.

Already in the process of dismantling the aging core that got to within a game of winning the 2011 Stanley Cup, Vancouver continued down that course the following season with younger players taking on bigger roles in an attempt to rebuild on the fly while still trying to stay competitive.

The plan didn’t come close to providing the desired results, and Desjardins was eventually the one to pay the price.

The team stumbled to 31-38-13 mark in 2015-16, good for just 75 points and a 28th-place finish, and he managed to survive 2016-17 despite a couple of instances where his dismissal looked likely before the hammer finally fell after Game 82.

Desjardins replaced John Tortorella after his one tumultuous season in 2013-14 that saw Vancouver miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

—————

Canucks coach Willie Desjardins has been relieved of his coaching duties along with assistant coaches Doug Lidster and Perry Pearn.

“It’s been a challenging season and we all share responsibility for the results,” said GM Jim Benning on Twitter. “However, we felt this change was necessary as we continue to develop a young team and look ahead to the future. We’re grateful to Willie, Doug, Perry and each of their families for their dedication and hard work and wish them every success.”

Just Posted

Oxford Dictionary responds by video to Victoria boy’s bid for levidrome

William Shatner tweet garners attention of Oxford

Car fire slows highway traffic in Central Saanich

No injuries were reported after the fire broke out in the engine compartment of a car Thursday morning.

‘Emma Fillipoff Is (still) Missing’

New podcast sheds some light on five-year-old case of missing Victoria woman

Tenant relocation plan recommended in Victoria city staff report

City to consider renter protection program Thursday

Oak Bay teacher wins 91.3 the Zone’s Teacher of the Month

French teacher at École Willows School wins custom Converse from Baggins and Big Wheel gift cards

Oak Bay teacher wins 91.3 the Zone’s Teacher of the Month

French teacher at École Willows School wins custom Converse from Baggins and Big Wheel gift cards

Costs loom as Saanich considers future of public works yard

Current conditions of the facility pose a risk to service delivery, according to a draft report

UPDATE: B.C. cat torture recorded on Snapchat, sent to owner

“I can’t stop shaking,” Haglund said. “Last night was so bad my teeth were clattering.”

Charge laid against B.C. man in cat torture

Joshua Michael Lemire, 20, has been charged with one count of causing unnecessary pain/suffering to an animal.

Site C allows more wind, solar energy, experts say

Lawyer, economist argue for completion of B.C. Hydro dam

Record-high temperatures reached in 18 spots in B.C.

White Rock, Victoria and the Fraser Valley made new records for the unusually warm November day

Supreme Court to hear case on whether ISPs can charge for IDing online pirates

Film producers seeking to crack down on people who share copyrighted material illegally

Canadian initiative fuelled by Terry Fox’s dream may be only hope for young cancer patients

Young cancer patients in rural or remote areas did not always get the testing available

Olympic gymnastics ex-doctor pleads guilty to sex charges

Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas are among the women who have publicly said they were among Nassar’s victims

Most Read