The Vancouver Canucks will be playing hockey against the Los Angeles Kings Monday night, but well before the warm-ups begin the club’s hierarchy and its new coach took some time to meet the media. The hierarchy was represented by some familiar faces, owner Francesco Aquilini and interim general manager, a man whose number-12 hangs in the rafters at Rogers Anena, Stan Smyl.
Smyl’s task is essentially to settle the rocking boat and assist ownership in finding the person that will permanently fill his position, or maybe even two people; one General Manager and one potential president of hockey operations. The owner wasn’t sure at this point if they’d be filling one or both. TBD.
“We’re gonna need a leader that’s gonna come in, whether it’s a president or general manager, or a combination of both, we just want to get the right people and they’ll have to articulate that vision,” Aquilini said.
“We want to get the right person, we want to do a thorough and exhaustive search, we want to look at all the candidates that are available,” Aquilini said when referring to a general manager. “There are people under contract that are available, we’re looking at everything. Hopefully that’s the plan and that’s what we’re going to be working towards.”
Aquilini smiled broadly when Vancouver Hockey Now asked him if Marc Bergevin, the recently fired general manager of the Montreal Canadiens, would be arriving in the next couple days to be interviewed for a position.
“I know Marc,” Aquilini said. “I think Marc just wants to take it easy for a minute. He’s been with the Canadiens for ten years and I think … I haven’t spoken to him but I’m sure he just wants to sit back and, you know, reflect. But, anything is possible, I mean, I’m not going to rule anything out.”
Smyl offered his passion for the franchise, his dedication to the cause, and his disdain for seeing a Canucks jersey thrown on the ice by a fan near the end of Saturday night’s loss to Pittsburgh.
“The end of that game was difficult,” Smyl said repeatedly. “Just hearing the fans, so, the end of that game was very difficult to watch.”
Next up came new Vancouver Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau. The man nicknamed “Gabby” definitely has a gift for it. He didn’t disappoint the assembled media, cracking a couple of dandy one-liners regarding the pressure of coaching in Canada and needing to get his skates sharpened.
Boudreau conducted his first morning skate earlier Monday and said he had to be careful staying out of the way of all the speed. He also discussed his simple philosophy.
“I don’t understand why you can’t be a great offensive team and great defensive team at the same time,” Boudreau said. “If we have the puck, we’re going, if we don’t have the puck, we’re checking to get it back.”
Boudreau said he’s already had a long conversation with struggling Vancouver Canucks sniper Brock Boeser, who has just four goals on the season and just two points, both assists, in his last twelve games. Simple message: “Shoot the puck!”
Boudreau said Boeser has a great shot and he needed to start using it. Don’t try to be cute, just let it go.
“I think if he scores a goal or two, he’s going to get his confidence back,” Boudreau added, “but it starts with just shooting the puck.”
Boudreau said that right after the media conference, he was heading directly to have a conversation with Elias Pettersson, the other struggling Vancouver Canucks star. As one of the three most important players on the team, along with Quinn Hughes and goalie Thatcher Demko, “Petey” has looked discombobulated.
“I want to find out where he’s at, more importantly” Boudreau said. “I know how good he can be and how good he has been against my teams. He scored an awful lot and he’s a dynamic player and I want to know if there are reasons why he hasn’t been that player right now.”
The Canucks had a feisty, fast-paced morning skate and Boudreau was encouraged. For his Canucks coaching debut against the Kings he will motivate, observe, and hope to pick up two points with a win.
A new Vancouver Canucks coaching era, length to be determined, begins.