By Sally Fahey
The Flyers rebuild from the depths of mediocrity is in motion.
And, with the exception of their rock-star mascot Gritty, no one has more of a spotlight than new coach Alain Vigneault.
He has coached two different types of teams and he had similar success in both, but his time with the Vancouver Canucks seems like a closer predictor for what to expect with the Flyers.
During his time with the Canucks, Vigneault enjoyed the prime years of elite players like Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Roberto Luongo. Those years were good times to be Canucks fans (just like the years to come). Having three players that talented was a luxury coaches dream of having.
The new head coach came in and didn’t disappoint. He immediately began to take the Canucks from a bottom-dwelling possession team and turned them into a top-10 team. Below is a look at the shot attempt control for his time in Vancouver, minus the 2006-2007 season because they weren’t available.
His growth went hand in hand with the Sedins development. The Canucks also had excellent secondary scoring with Ryan Kesler and Alexandre Burrows. They also had a future Hall of Famer guarding the net in Luongo. They had a very good hockey team, to say the least. Vigneault seemed to maximize the talent he was given, taking Vancouver within a win of the Stanley Cup in 2011.
Following that peak season, the Canucks lost in Round 1 to the Los Angeles Kings (five games) and San Jose Sharks (four games). The ice is much thinner in this scenario when you’ve been behind the bench for seven seasons. Both coaches that followed didn’t seem to accomplish much more than Vigneault could have done. Outside of failing to secure a Stanley Cup, his time in Vancouver was filled with passing grades in both the eye test and statistics.