Vancouver Canucks Should Hire Darryl Sutter as Head Coach

Jan 31, 2017; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Kings head coach Darryl Sutter looks on during the first period against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 31, 2017; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Kings head coach Darryl Sutter looks on during the first period against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /

With Willie Desjardins and Darryl Sutter receiving their pink slips, the Vancouver Canucks should take a look at the former Los Angeles Kings bench boss.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that the Vancouver Canucks won the Northwest Division with ease every single year. But four years later, this team will employ its fourth head coach since the 2012-13 season.

Head coach Willie Desjardins was fired on Monday and the Canucks will once again be scrambling to find a new bench boss. Though many believe Travis Green is in line to become their next head coach, the Canucks should think about bringing in Darryl Sutter, whom the Los Angeles Kings fired just hours after Desjardins lost his job.

Sutter joined the Kings early in the 2011-12 season, turning this lost franchise into a two-time Stanley Cup champion. Sutter injected a strong, heavy defensive system that focused entirely on puck possession and clogging up the neutral zone.

Los Angeles was indeed a great puck-possession team, leading the NHL with a Corsi-for percentage of 55 in 2016-17. They also allowed just 2.45 goals per game this season, good for sixth in the NHL. That was with world-class goalie Jonathan Quick playing just 17 games, as lower body injuries sidelined him for most of the season.

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The Canucks really need to find ways to drive up their puck-possession numbers while reducing the goals allowed per game. Only five NHL teams allowed more goals per game in 2016-17 than Vancouver (2.94), and their Corsi-for percentage of 47.92 ranked 26th in the league.

Sutter is one of the greatest mastermind head coaches, and the Kings made a questionable call in relieving him of his duties. His resume speaks for itself: a 634-467-101-83 record and two Stanley Cup championships.

For Vancouver, the John Tortorella hiring was a disaster, because his dump-and-chase system that preached constant shot-blocking didn’t fit a Canucks team that relied much more on the playmaking abilities of Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

Desjardins didn’t have any NHL head-coaching experience before the Canucks brought him on in 2014-15, so that may explain a reason why his three years on the west coast were far from great.

But hiring a veteran and proven winner in Sutter is the road the Canucks should go down. They’re in full-scale rebuilding mode, and they need a strict, no fun-and-games guy like Sutter to run this team.

Look at the Toronto Maple Leafs. Their rebuilding plan was supposed to take five years, and veteran Mike Babcock got them to the playoffs in year two. Tortorella didn’t succeed in Vancouver, but he got the most out of an extremely young roster in Columbus, leading the Blue Jackets to their greatest season in franchise history.

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Oh, we could go on. Todd McLellan also helped the Edmonton Oilers end their 11-year playoff drought by getting their young guns to play more up-tempo and less fancy.

Sutter checks every box when it comes to helping the Canucks fix their woes: he’s got the experience, his system could help Vancouver transition into a more defensively responsible/puck possessive team and his demanding ways are what the Canucks’ young core needs.

The personnel is there for the Canucks and Sutter to co-exist well, too. He’s got the stay-at-home blueliners in Erik Gudbranson and Nikita Tryamkin, similar to the likes of Jake Muzzin and Willie Mitchell he had in Los Angeles. Ben Hutton is like Alec Martinez, a defensively-sound blueliner who can quarterback the power play.

Brandon Sutter isn’t as talented as Anze Kopitar, but he can score goals and he is the best defensive forward Vancouver has. And the Sedins? They know a thing or two about possessing and holding onto the puck.

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General manager Jim Benning and co. have some interviews to conduct and plenty of investigating ahead of them. But at the end of the day, the Vancouver Canucks and Darryl Sutter appear to be a match made in Heaven — at least on paper.