Canucks at 50: Signing of Alain Vigneault as head coach was crucial to team’s success – The Province

Posted: February 20, 2020 at 9:41 am

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Coming out of the lockout in 2004-05 the Vancouver Canucks made one of their most important hires: Alain Vigneault. The new Canucks coach would take the team to new heights through its most prosperous period in team history. In his first season with the Canucks he guided the team to a record 49 wins, which earned him a nomination as one of the finalists for Coach of The Year, which he won. Jason Botchford was in Toronto for the awards; here is his story:

TORONTO If Michel Therrien had his way, Alain Vigneault never would have been in a position to beat him out for the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year Thursday.

If Therrien had his way, Vigneault would have joined his Pittsburgh Penguins staff in 2005 as one of his assistants.

But Vigneault remained the head coach of the AHLs Manitoba Moose, which landed him in Vancouver and the rest is now coach-of-the-year history.

I am so glad for him, Therrien said. But we tried to get him in Pittsburgh. And if he wasnt hired by Vancouver, (theres) a good chance we would have brought him in. We talked about it. Hes such a good hockey mind. He knows so much about the game and the season he had proves that.

Vigneault, 46, beat out Therrien and Buffalo Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff to win his first Jack Adams Award in what was the surprise of the night.

He took the stage to take the award and in a personal moment thanked his two daughters, Andreane and Janie, who were his dates for the awards show.

The divorced father, whose daughters live in Quebec, made a point to say how difficult it can be to balance a family with life as an NHL coach. It was one of the nicest moments of the evening.

Many were convinced Therrien would win the Jack Adams thanks to a 47-point turnaround in Pittsburgh. But he finished third. Vigneault finished with 134 points (18 first-place votes), Ruff 126 (11 first-place votes) and Therrien 91 (11 first-place votes).

Head coach Alain Vigneault of the Vancouver Canucks smiles as he looks on from the bench during their NHL game against the Dallas Stars at Rogers Arena. Jeff Vinnick / PROVINCE NHLI via Getty Images

Vigneault said he was taken off guard when he was announced the winner for his formidable role in boldly turning around a sagging Canucks team.

He returned forcefully to the NHL last season for the first time since 2000. He leaped onto the Vancouver scene. He played no favourites. He benched starters right off the hop. He made his players earn their playing time.

And in so doing, he got a team to buy in to a cultural sea change that showed he had learned plenty since being fired from the Montreal Canadiens.

Its not easy to get here and its not easy to stay and its not easy to come back, Vigneault said. It was a long journey back. But Ive done my best everywhere Ive been. Ive tried my hardest to get back to the NHL.

Therrien, who was hired by Montreal on Vigneaults recommendation, replaced Vigneault when he was fired by the Canadiens.

We both got our first opportunity in Montreal and we are both very passionate about the game, Vigneault said. You know, Montreal was a great time and a great experience. The reason I this award is because of the experience I learned in Montreal.

Vigneault made it clear he doesnt think the award should be viewed as an individual one.

Its not an honour for myself, but the whole organization, Vigneault said. It means I had a lot of good people working with me.

Its just using this individual award to say the team is on the right track.

Vigneault heaped praise on his coaching staff, including Rick Bowness, Mike Kelly, Barry Smith and Ian Clark. He said he was allowed to hand pick his staff. He wanted strong personalities. He didnt want coaches who would just be puck pushers.

I had worked with Rick before, I knew him, and I worked with Mike before, so I knew what he could bring to the table, Vigneault said. One of the best decisions I made was to keep Barry Smith. And Ian is one of the best goaltender coaches Ive seen in a long time.

They all share their opinion with me and usually we talk it out.

As the Canucks celebrate their 50th season, were looking back at the moments that stand out as the biggest in franchise history on the ice and off, good, and a few bad. Were highlighting the top moments from the 1970s through November, the 80s in December, the 90s in January, the 00s in February and the 10s in March.

If you have any great memories of where you were when your favourite moments happened, or what they meant to you, send them to

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Canucks at 50: Signing of Alain Vigneault as head coach was crucial to team's success - The Province

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February 20th, 2020 at 9:41 am

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