New Philadelphia Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault spent seven years with the Vancouver Canucks, the most time he has spent with one team in his career. I sat down with Kent Basky from Nucks Misconduct to chat about what we should expect.
First things first, would you say Alain Vigneault is a good coach?
Well, yes and no. It’s been a while since the glory days in Vancouver, and he went on and did his run on Broadway after that. I think he can be a good coach if he has a solid staff of assistants and a GM that provides him with the right tools on the ice. When he was here in Vancouver, he took over from Marc Crawford after a couple seasons in Winnipeg with the Manitoba Moose. I think one of the reasons the team responded so well was it was being fed with players from their AHL club: Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows, Kevin Bieksa, Jannik Hansen, Rick Rypien, Chris Tanev and Cory Schneider all spent time with the Moose. This is probably going to be his last go-round, but if he has the right guys with him, he might be able to make it work.
What are his coaching philosophies?
Oddly enough, he’s a coach who will endear himself to Flyers fans. He can line match with the best of them, but isn’t afraid to shake things up. He’s passionate, and in the East where things are a little wilder, he seemed to not stick out too bad when he was having success in New York. If he’s learned from the mistakes he’s made in the past, and recognizes how the game is changing, great. If not, it could be something to watch.
Is he a coach who makes adjustments or does he stick by his gameplan regardless of the outcome?
As mentioned above, he can shuffle things up (hell, he benched Roberto Luongo more than once on the 2011 Finals run), but in the Finals some felt he didn’t do enough to respond to what the Bruins were doing. I think that’s partially true, though the injuries were so rampant by that point, his options were pretty limited. Once again, if he’s learned from mistakes this shouldn’t be an issue.
When it comes to goalie usage, does he prefer a tandem system or riding the hot hand?
AV is definitely a tandem coach. Luongo and Schneider won the Jennings on his watch, and he always seemed to be motivated to make sure his number one was getting enough rest. It’s been said he ran them as 1 and 1A, if that helps. I think most coaches will let a guy go if he’s on a good run, but you’re not gonna see a 65 games for one goalie type of situation from AV if there’s a competent backup.
There is a preconceived notion in Philadelphia that he does not play kids and over relies on vets, is there truth to that?
Like I said, he very much brought guys up from Manitoba and gave them chances to play. He brought Kesler along until they found the right role for him, gave Hansen (who was a 9th round pick!) a shot when a lot of teams likely wouldn’t have, especially in their situation. I never got the impression he wasn’t willing to give the kids a chance.
Can you give me some positives to look forward to?
He was the coach that gave the Canucks their most successful seasons, still holds the records for wins and points, and though it was definitely time for a change when he left, most remember him fondly. I wouldn’t say no to putting him in the Ring of Honour down the road. With the young talent Philly has, and if Carter Hart is everything he appears to be, the Flyers could be a couple tweaks away from being really good with AV.
Do you have any warnings for Flyers fans?
I think give him a year’s grace period, and see how he adapts to the way the game is getting back to speed and finesse. He may bring in some guys that he had in Vancouver that aren’t tied up elsewhere, and during that 2008-2012 period, they were a team that was deadly on special teams. He may not have the Sedin brothers to work with, but I think he’s gonna be fine. If I’m wrong, blame the Rangers because they obviously broke him for good.