Canucks make major move behind the bench

Hossa
05-10-2004, 02:25 PM
Anytime there is a regime change in an organization, the coach's job security is questioned. When Sean Keogh took over as General Manager of the Vancouver Canucks in August of 2002, the same questions arose about Mike Keenan's place as coach.

Keenan, who expressed serious interest at the time about adding the role of GM to his plate, was said to be close to quitting when he lost out to Keogh. The fiery coach stayed on, but saw the roster get torn apart because of a financial disaster of a team left by Keogh's predecessor. As the Canucks' roster got worse, Keenan's patience for Keogh's dealings diminished.

All seemed to be fine at mid season when the Canucks were surprisingly in a playoff spot ahead of Cup contenders like the LA Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets. Keenan got a lot of the credit for the success, and was a coach at the HFNHL All-star Classic as a result. Things went sour from there though.

In February of this year, Mario Lemieux was dealt. One of the best players to ever play the game, Lemieux was acquired about six weeks prior, in a complicated deal with Pittsburgh. Mario put up around two points a game in Vancouver, the primary reason the team remained in the playoff picture.

When Keogh dealt Lemieux for Sergei Berezin and prized youngster Antoine Vermette, Keenan vented to the media: "I guess it's not his fault he's (Keogh) is ignorant. He's only a kid in this game." Compared to Lou Lamoreillo for his willingness to deal and shyness around the camera, Keogh didn't respond to Keenan's comments.

Throughout the remainder of the season, the Canucks plunged and Keenan's position within the organization came into question. Keenan tried to cover up his frustration, but when asked what he felt about deadline acquisition Rem Murray (dealt for Dave Andreychuk), the coach said "for the second time in two months, our best player was just dealt...how the **** am I supposed to be excited about getting this Murray kid."

With his contract up at the end of the season, it became clear within the organization that Keenan was gone. The question was who would replace him. Last week, Keenan was informed he would not be brought back, but Keogh asked him to wait until a replacement was found before announcing it officially.

The replacement for Keenan is Claude Julien. When asked why Julien, Keogh responded clearly saying, "he has an impressive history in the QMJHL and AHL, and at every stop he's had success." Julien is known for his ability to work with young players, and is often compared to coaching superstar Jacques Martin for that reason. With stud prospects such as Eric Staal, Pavel Vorobiev, Maxime Ouellet, Jeff Taffe, Ilya Bryzgalov, Alexander Polushin, Antoine Vermette and Noah Welch primed to jump to the NHL within the next couple of seasons, Keogh decided he wanted the perfect coach for his young players. "In Julien we get a coach who can develop with our kids and coach them to the top," said Keogh.

The reaction was mixed among the players. Claude Lemieux was angered by the dismissal, saying "Keenan was as good a coach as I've ever had, and his departure could make me retire." Others such as defenceman Jiri Slegr, whose ice-time was limited this year becuase of a personal feud with Keenan said, "a coach needs to lead the team, not just pick certain players to lead and bash and ignore the others, Keenan and me had some problems, but hopefully Mr. Julien gives me a fresh chance."

Yesterday's press conference was to announce Keenan's departure, and who was hired. It is expected Julien will be officially introduced as coach this afternoon at a 5 PM press conference.


Stan Smyl
Vancouver Province

Pandastyle
05-10-2004, 03:32 PM
Damn Sean, I was gonna hire him as soon as the playoffs were up for me. :cry:

Now I'll have to go shopping for other guys.

Hossa
05-10-2004, 03:46 PM
Damn Sean, I was gonna hire him as soon as the playoffs were up for me. :cry:

Now I'll have to go shopping for other guys.

I'll make you a trade offer...Claude Julien and Ron Tugnutt for Evgeni Nabokov....

Deal? We can get Doug to confirm it right here.

Pandastyle
05-10-2004, 04:22 PM
No that's alright, I'll keep my whining and crying to myself. :)
I'll make you a trade offer...Claude Julien and Ron Tugnutt for Evgeni Nabokov....

Deal? We can get Doug to confirm it right here.