It started with the news early Sunday evening that former Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau was going to be named the new head coach of the Vancouver Canucks. There wasn’t even any announcement that the current Canucks head coach, Travis Green, had even been fired yet.
But as the evening progressed and Sunday night turned into Monday morning on the east coast, it became clear that Vancouver was cleaning house, from the top down, and other moves were being made.
The official announcement was finally released by the team around 1:30 AM eastern time – General Manager Jim Benning, Assistant GM John Weisbrod, Head Coach Travis Green and Assistant Coach Nolan Baumgartner were all relieved of their duties.
FROM THE VANCOUVER CANUCKS
Vancouver, BC – Francesco Aquilini, Chairman and Governor NHL, Vancouver Canucks, announced today significant changes to the team’s front office and coaching staff, and confirmed a search for new Hockey Operations leadership is underway.
General Manager Jim Benning, Assistant GM John Weisbrod, Head Coach Travis Green and Assistant Coach Nolan Baumgartner have been relieved of their duties.
Bruce Boudreau has been named the 20th Head Coach in Vancouver Canucks history and Scott Walker has been named Assistant Coach. Stan Smyl has been named Interim General Manager and Ryan Johnson has been named Interim Assistant GM while the search for new Hockey Operations leadership has begun.
“First, I want to sincerely thank Jim, John, Travis and Nolan for their passion and dedication to the organization and our community,” said Aquilini. “We are grateful for everything they have done for the Canucks during their tenure, and we wish them nothing but success in the future.
“These are difficult decisions, but we believed we would have a competitive group this year. As a result, I’m extremely disappointed in how the team has performed so far. I’m making these changes because we want to build a team that competes for championships and it’s time for new leadership to help take us there.
“Our search for new leadership is underway. In the interim, Stan Smyl will lead our Hockey Operations team with the strong support of Ryan Johnson, Chris Gear, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Doug Jarvis and others on the team to ensure day-to-day continuity. Stan has been a very loyal and committed member of our Hockey Operations Senior Management structure for many years and is someone whose experience and leadership we value greatly.
“I am excited to add Bruce Boudreau as our new Head Coach, and Scott as Assistant. Bruce is one of the most experienced coaches in the NHL, with nearly 1,000 games behind the bench and a successful track record working with some of the game’s best talent. Scott is a young coach with an excellent reputation who will fit in very well with our group.”
Boudreau has a career coaching record of 567-302-115 (.635) in 984 regular-season games with the Washington Capitals (2007-08 to 2011-12), Anaheim Ducks (2011-12 to 2015-16) and Minnesota Wild (2016-17 to 2019-20). Boudreau became the fastest coach in NHL history to reach the 400-win milestone (663 games) and is the seventh head coach in NHL history to win 200-plus games with multiple teams. He has also coached 90 playoff games (43-47). He was the recipient of the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year in 2008.
Scott Walker, a former Canuck, joins the team from the OHL’s Guelph Storm where he was President of Hockey Operations. Walker was previously the Storm’s Head Coach for five seasons (2010-11 to 2014-15) where he guided the team to a record of 164-94-14. He won an OHL Championship in 2013-14 and took his team to the Memorial Cup Championship game. He also earned a gold medal as Assistant Coach for Team Canada at the 2014 World Junior Hockey Championship.
LEADERSHIP MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Francesco Aquilini and Stan Smyl will meet the media on Monday, Dec 6 at 3:30pm. Bruce Boudreau will be available at 4:15pm in the Norm Jewison Media Room at Rogers Arena.
Including Saturday night’s 4-1 loss to the Penguins, the Canucks have lost 10 of their last 13 games and are 8-15-2 this season, last in the Pacific Division.
The perceived tipping point came on Saturday when fans were booing, chanting for firings and a jersey was thrown on the ice.
After a 24th-place finish in the NHL standings during the Covid-shortened 2020-21 season, Benning undertook a major offseason roster overhaul and promised a revitalized squad that would contend for a playoff spot. That never materialized.
Benning made plenty of questionable moves over his tenure as Canucks’ GM, such as signing right-wing Loui Eriksson (who never hit the 30-point mark in five seasons with the Canucks before being dealt to the Coyotes in the Ekman-Larsson trade).
He signed center Jay Beagle (who’s six goals over three seasons with the team was one less than his total from his final season with the Washington Capitals in 2017-18 and earned a -19 rating over that time before getting sent to Arizona along with Eriksson) and left-wing Antoine Roussel (had eight goals and 17 points in 76 games over two seasons after setting career-highs in assists – 22 – and points – 31 – in the first season in Vancouver) to four-year contracts that each count $3 million against the NHL salary cap in 2018.
He also signed defenseman Tyler Myers (earned six goals and 21 points in each of his first two seasons with the team before recording six assists this season and has -17 rating over tenure in Vancouver) to a five-year contract that comes with a $6 million cap hit in 2019.
By Jon Sorensen