Behind the man behind the bench

BARRY MACDONALD -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

It is, of course, a tad early to discern whether Alain Vigneault is the right man for the hot seat that is the head coaching job with the Vancouver Canucks. If experience and air miles count for anything, the Jack Adams trophy could well be his. Vigneault is a hockey lifer, having played for the likes of the Magic and Golden Eagles, and having coached the Draveurs, Harfangs and most recently, the Moose.

Anyone who can survive a couple of seasons at the helm of the Harfangs has greatness written all over him.

Alain Vigneault was drafted by the St. Louis Blues as the 167th pick in the 1981 NHL entry draft, three spots after the immortal Gates Orlando. He played 42 games in the only league that matters, but rounded out his pro hockey career in Utah, Montana and Maine.

He has paid his dues, at the junior level, in the American League and in the NHL, both as an assistant and more importantly, as a head coach. The head coaching was in Montreal, and if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. Or so you might think. In three full seasons with Vigneault behind the bench, the Habs finished one game under .500. Not good enough in Montreal, but of course Vigneault's biggest failing there was his inability to lure Savard, Lapointe, Lafleur and Shutt out of retirement. He did however, have Bouillon, Bureau, Popovic and Vukota at his disposal.

Surviving the pressure cooker of Montreal prepares him well for Vancouver. Surrounded by the inquiring minds he has looked perfectly at ease.

He has been around the hockey world, and most importantly the NHL block. He will not be intimidated by veteran players - he will not intimidate the rookies. He has a presence about him, and a reputation for being fair, offered up by none other than Trevor Linden who played for Vigneault in Montreal.

The slate is clean. The judging will soon start. The sense here, is that he is the right man for the job.


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