When Vancouver Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau was hired in early December, the first guy he called to come along as an assistant coach was Scott Walker. Sunday, the organization officially announced Walker would not be back. Boudreau had already revealed this information as a guest on the Toronto-based Bob McCown Podcast on Friday.
“He’s decided to retire, to stay closer to his family and to Guelph, where he owns, still part owner of the Storm,” ‘Gabby’ told the show. “He’s going to be sorely missed, but it was vitally important that I had someone that I could sit there and talk to, that I knew right off the bat, while I was getting to learn what the other guys were all about.”
The decision is not related to any health issues. Vancouver Canucks fans may recall Walker missed two months of the season with vertigo and other side effects from being hit in the head by a puck at a home game against the Florida Panthers on January 21st. The 48-year-old former hard nosed winger with 829 games of NHL playing experience actually coached the Storm of the Ontario Hockey League from 2010 to 2015 while winning an OHL championship along the way.
Ironically, one could say Walker kind of “lost his job’ anyway to fellow assistant coach Brad Shaw during Walker’s absence. Shaw had a successful history with developing penalty kills earlier in his NHL assistant coaching career and he picked up where he left off with his cohort out of commission. The PK improved to a rate of 80-percent effectiveness under the Boudreau regime after floundering early in the season, last in the league at under 70% under head coach Travis Green.
When Walker returned, he stated that it would be best if Shaw continued in the PK role.
“Scott is the ultimate team guy,” Boudreau said at the time.
The power play also improved dramatically as the season progressed, finishing 9th in the NHL at 23.5% under the collaboration of Boudreau and Jason King, a key factor as to why King will be back on the job.
Catch-all assistant Kyle Gudbranson will not return. Video coach Darryl Seward will not return.
The Vancouver Canucks search begins for replacements and the process is underway.