The job security of Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins has been in question dating back to last season and it appears those questions will last for a little while yet. In a recent interview on TSN 1040 in Vancouver (audio link), team president Trevor Linden didn’t exactly give Desjardins a glowing vote of confidence but certainly didn’t rule him out from returning either:
“I think we’re going to take our time and look at our options at the end of the season. I’ll have to do a full assessment of our organization, as I always do, and we’ll move forward from that point.”
It’s worth noting that around this time last year, Linden was unequivocal when answering a similar question about Desjardins, clearly stating that the decision had already been made to bring him back at that time.
The 59 year old is in his third season behind the Vancouver bench and has a 107-97-26 record through his first 230 games. He’s been tasked with guiding a Canucks team that is at the end of their window of legitimate contention and are likely headed towards a rebuilding (or at least a retooling) process.
However, some of his decisions have been called into question and there is some cause for criticism for the way some of the young players have been handled, even though the likes of Bo Horvat and Troy Stecher, among other youngsters, have progressed this season. If Linden has concerns about the way some young players are being deployed, the time may be right in the offseason to make a move. That said, Desjardins has spent plenty of time working with young players at the junior level (plus one year in the AHL) so he should have a good handle on the situation the team is heading for.
If he were to be let go, TSN’s Darren Dreger suggested on TSN 1040 that there would likely be a market for him, going as far as noting that at least one team has already asked him about what he thinks will happen (transcription via Fan Rag’s Chris Nichols):
“But you know what’s interesting about that is I’ve actually had other teams – and I can’t be specific to the team or teams who have asked me – but I have been asked about Willie’s future and whether or not the sense is that Vancouver will go in a different direction. And the reason I’ve been asked is there are teams out there who see him as a prime candidate. He’s a respected coach from an NHL perspective.”
Given Linden’s statements about waiting until the end of the season before making a decision, it’s safe to say that Desjardins should be around through to mid-April so the questions about his future should get a short reprieve though only for a few weeks.