The Canucks are bad because they are a bad organization that makes bad decisions
This was never Bruce Boudreau's fault, but he paid the price for it in embarrassing fashion.
The Vancouver Canucks fired head coach Bruce Boudreau on Sunday afternoon, mercifully ending a very public and drawn out coaching change that has been the latest black eye for a franchise that seems to be going out of its way to collect them.
Boudreau was replaced by Rick Tocchet.
The issue with the firing of Boudreau is not necessarily the Canucks’ decision to make a coaching change.
Though I disagree with making Boudreau the scapegoat, teams change coaches all the time and this sort of thing is inevitable. Coaches are hired to be fired.
Given how good of a coach Boudreau has proven to be throughout his career — including in Vancouver — it is probably a bad decision because he is far from the only, or even biggest, problem with that sad sack franchise.
The issue is the way the Canucks have handled it.
Boudreau has only been on the job in Vancouver for a little more than a full season’s worth of games (103), having taken over halfway through the 2021-22 season for Travis Green. After the coaching change Boudreau injected new life into the team and not only had them in playoff contention, they ended up falling short of a Western Conference playoff spot by just five points. That might seem like a big gap, but when you consider where the Canucks were when Boudreau took over it was not only an incredible turnaround, it was the best extended period of hockey the Canucks had played in YEARS.
Despite that, the Canucks’ new front office led by former Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford and one of his assistants, Patrik Allvin, seemed to resent his presence behind the Canucks’ bench from the very start of the season.
Early in the year Rutherford was doing what he always does and going on the radio and screaming about how bad his team is, how they played with no structure (pretty much a direct shot at the coach), and needed to make changes.
As Boudreau’s seat continued to get hotter, Rutherford only managed to fan the flames by again getting in front of a microphone and admitting he was speaking to potential coaching candidates. While he never gave any names, it was still baffling to hear an executive speak like that before the current coach was fired.
It was ultimately reported that Rick Tocchet, an assistant coach with the Penguins during Rutherford’s time in Pittsburgh, was one of the candidates the Canucks had been in contact with. Tocchet, who had been working as an analyst on TNT, acknowledged that he had spoken to Rutherford but tried to back it up by saying he had spoken to Rutherford for years given their personal relationship and that it was not about a contract or a coaching job.
Meanwhile, Boudreau was left twisting in the wind as a dead man walking behind the Canucks’ bench with everybody knowing this decision was going to come after Saturday’s game. Then it did.
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