Vancouver Canucks Daily Rumblings: Give Desjardins Time

Apr 2, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Vancouver Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins during the first period against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 2, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Vancouver Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins during the first period against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

Vancouver Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins is entering his third season on the job, and the pressure is growing.

We all expect the Vancouver Canucks to win, and head coach Willie Desjardins is someone who has a lot to do with the outcome of their games. However, it is still too early to call for him to be fired. Coaches need time, which is something fans and owners aren’t necessarily willing to give.

One decision that could influence what we think of Desjardins in the future is that on rookie defenseman Nikita Tryamkin

Tryamkin Could Become an Issue

Connor Cullen — The Canuck Way: Is Nikita Tryamkin the Real Deal?

"Tryamkin signed a two-year entry-level contact with the Canucks in 2015, the first year of which was burned since he finished up playing for the Canucks in the second half of last season. He’s made it clear he doesn’t want to go to the AHL, so it’s essentially NHL or KHL for Tryamkin. The Canucks will want to see big developmental strides from him this season."

The Vancouver Canucks finally developed some defensive depth. Unfortunately, that could backfire as early as this season. Not because the Canucks made a mistake, but rather because rookie Nikita Tryamkin — or his agent — did a great job negotiating his entry-level contract.

As of today, there is no doubt that Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, Ben Hutton and Erik Gudbranson will build the top four. Behind that, the Canucks would like to see Philip Larsen, especially to quarterback the power play, on the right side. If Larsen does indeed crack the roster, that leaves Vancouver with Luca Sbisa and Nikita Tryamkin for the final spot in the lineup. But why would it go to Tryamkin?

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In most situations, it would be easy. Sbisa is a seven-year NHL veteran who makes $3.6 million per year. Tryamkin, on the other hand, is a rookie who is entering his first full season in North America. He is still adjusting and will need some time to really get going. At this point, Sbisa would easily be ahead of Tryamkin on the depth chart — even though a large group of Canucks fans seem to hate Sbisa.

So, in any other scenario, Tryamkin would have to go into training camp trying to earn a roster spot but expecting to start the year in the American Hockey League. Making a rookie a healthy scratch instead of playing him big minutes in the AHL never makes a lot of sense. But, of course, Tryamkin isn’t like every other rookie — he has a European assignment clause.

At the end of training camp, that — and only that — could be what keeps Tryamkin in the NHL. If that is the case, the Canucks would have to decide between benching Sbisa, who might actually be the better option, or scratching Tryamkin, which could hurt his development and confidence.

The only way to really end up in this scenario is if Larsen and Sbisa both convince the coaches and management that they are deserving of a roster spot. But I don’ think that’s a big stretch.

Tryamkin can only hope to outplay Larsen. If he doesn’t, our last hope would be for him to actually allow a demotion to Utica. It certainly wouldn’t hurt him.

Give Desjardins Time

Neil Acharya — Yahoo Sports: Willie Desjardins looking forward after Vancouver Canucks disappointing season

"One of the videos in Vancouver Canucks’ head coach Willie Desjardins’ 60-minute presentation: “Building the foundation for a winning team culture” at the TeamSnap Hockey Coaches Conference on Friday showed prospective Navy SEALs during what is known as “Hell Week”.(…)In his eight years with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers from 2002-2010, he guided the team out of years of futility to winning the league championship twice (2004, 2007).  In 2014 he led the Texas Stars to their first Calder Cup victory.He has also been awarded coach of the year honours in both the CHL and AHL."

When a team gets a new bench boss, fans want him to win immediately. If hockey was about losing, anyone could stand behind the bench. But no, it is about winning. That coach was brought in to win hockey games, so that is the expectation from day one.

So, naturally, fans get angry and are quick to blame the coach when things aren’t going too well. I can be one of the many people who blame the coach for losses. For example, I got angry at Willie Desjardins a lot in the 2015-16 season, mostly for three reasons:

  1. The lines didn’t seem to work but Desjardins refused to change them up.
  2. No matter how close the game, Desjardins had Brandon Prust, Adam Cracknell and Derek Dorsett beat the Sedin twins in even-strength ice time more than once.
  3. When pulling the goalie, Desjardins sent Brandon Prust out as the extra attacker. I honestly don’t remember if this was a one-time thing. But even if it was, it was reason enough to get angry.

So when I read that out of all the coaches in the world, Desjardins was the on “Building the foundation for a winning team culture”, I found that hard to believe. Until I read on and was reminded of what Desjardins has achieved at the WHL and AHL levels. Sure, he’s in the NHL now and things might work a bit different there, but he definitely has a nice resume. He knows how to win.

The most important words in the title of his presentation: “building” and “foundation”. 

Every GM and every coach does their job differently. There are no two GMs or two coaches who do their job the exact same way. So when a coach comes to a new club and everyone, including himself, expects him to win games, there is a lot of pressure on a guy who had no say in what the roster looks like.

Willie Desjardins and Jim Benning need time to build a foundation for a roster they think can win games.

Next: Canucks Top 10 Prospect Ranking

Now, Desjardins and Benning are in their third season on the job, so they are entering a time where results do need to come. But calling for Desjardins’ head after one disappointing season would be too much. He led a mediocre team into the playoffs once and had it not been for all the injuries, he might have done it again.

What’s important is this: Willie Desjardins knows how to win. He is a good coach who understands the game and knows how to do his job. Desjardins and Benning needed time to build their roster; they got that, and there is no reason to call for their heads — yet.