Vancouver Canucks fire head coach Willie Desjardins
Published Monday, April 10, 2017 9:11AM PDT
Last Updated Monday, April 10, 2017 7:12PM PDT
After a dismal season, the Vancouver Canucks have fired head coach Willie Desjardins, and axed assistant coaches Doug Lidster and Perry Pearn.
The firings come less than 24 hours after the struggling team ended the year on an eight-game losing streak – finishing with a 30-43-9 record and putting them in seventh place in the Pacific Division and 13th overall in the Western Conference.
They also missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
Desjardins, 60, joined the team in 2014, taking over for John Tortorella, who was similarly dismissed from the position.
Trevor Linden, the Canucks President of Hockey Operations, told reporters that he understands why fans are currently discouraged with the team's performance, saying "until we can turn this around I can understand the skepticism."
Linden said with many up-and-comers and young players on the roster, he's more encouraged than he has been in the past two to three years.
"That's because we've got a future. When these kids get up and going… that's a lot of fun. I witnessed that when I came back in 2001," he said, adding that it was up to him and General Manager Jim Benning to "get there."
TSN's Farhan Lalji says Desjardins' dismissal doesn't come as a huge surprise given the Canucks' underperformance this season.
"You get the sense [Desjardins] knew this was coming. He was asked about this following his final home game… and he did acknowledge it's a hard thing not to think about," Lalji told TSN.
Coaching and management did not always see eye to eye on how to utilize young players this season, said Lalji, adding that it's difficult to pin the team's woes solely on the back of the coach.
"The team has changed direction, or at least the franchise has, in terms of whether they wanted to retool versus rebuild. It's been an unfortunate situation," Lalji said.
Benning issued a statement saying the decision was a difficult one, but necessary to the future of the franchise.
"It's been a challenging season and we all share responsibility for the results however, we felt this change was necessary as we continue to develop a young team and look ahead to the future," Benning said.
"We're grateful to Willie, Doug, Perry and each of their families for their dedication and hard work and wish them every success."
Before joining the Vancouver Canucks, Desjardins hadn't missed the playoffs in his 11-year coaching career.