The Vancouver Canucks have unveiled Willie Desjardins as their new head coach – LIVE with a YouTube’d press conference (video above) – after announcing his hiring early Monday.
The Canucks have conducted their past several hires this way, with an announcement followed by a streamed media session, dating back to last year’s new head coach John Tortorella, as well with the hirings of president Trevor Linden and general manager Jim Benning this year.
“I’ve looked forward to this day for a long time, wondering if it was ever going to happen,” Desjardins said in the video below. “I’ve always enjoyed wherever I’ve been at but, coming here, it’s such a great city and great fans.
“I really think they have some real character players. I always think you win with your leaders. I think they have great leadership on this team, a real nucleus to build. They know how to win, they’ve won in the past.
“You look at the people who are heading it up, in Trevor and Jim, you can’t find bette people in the game. They’re such quality people. We all have the same goal and, when you know that, its’ exciting.”
Desjardins says he’s looking to coach a fast team, a hard-skating team, and a hard-working team that plays to win every game and every shift.
“The way he wants to play is the same, you know, things that we’re looking for in a coach,” said GM Jim Benning. “He wants to play fast. His teams all work hard. He’s a guy that respects the players and the players play hard for him.
“At the end of the day, I think it’s a great fit for him and for us.”
Desjardins’ hire is the newest and final piece added this spring, finishing a brand new triangle of power for the Canucks.
Last year, the three roles now occupied by Benning, Linden, and Desjardins were instead split between Mike Gillis – who acted as both president of hockey operations and the team’s general manager – and John Tortorella, who replaced Alain Vigneault and was canned after one year on the job.
Tortorella’s Canucks finished eight points out of the playoff spot in the Western Conference. It was the first time Vancouver had failed to qualify for the postseason since the 2008 season, which was Linden’s last in the NHL.
Desjardins comes to Vancouver as the fresh winner of the AHL’s Calder Cup, guiding his Texas Stars to the NHL’s affiliate league championship last week.
Vancouver has retained assistant general manager Laurence Gilman and assistant coach Glen Gulutzan, who was the head coach with the NHL’s Dallas Stars – with Desjardins as his then-assistant – from 2011 to 2013.
Desjardins, 57, is originally from Climax, Saskatchewan. He has coached in the WHL, with the Saskatoon Blades and the Medicine Hat Tigers. He has coached Canada’s World Junior championship team in 2009-10, winning silver, and winning gold with Pat Quinn in 2009.
Desjardins began his coaching career with the University of Calgary in 1985.
With Monday’s appointment, the Canucks now have three first-timers in their three most visible executive roles – Desjardins is a first-time head coach, Benning is a rookie GM (having been a longtime assistant in Buffalo and Boston), and Linden is in his first summer as the president of an NHL club.
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