Vigneault opens doors to criticism

BARRY MACDONALD -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 10:46 AM ET

Alain Vigneault has put the bite back in "sound bite," which might not be an approach universally endorsed by his Vancouver Canuck hockey team.

It's not like the man is a loose cannon. He simply, more often than not, answers a question in an honest manner.

He doesn't stare down his inquisitor. He doesn't answer a question with another. He doesn't act like it's nobody's business.

The new head coach understands world peace is not at stake when he is asked something related to one of his players.

There is nothing wrong with Vigneault's candor, but there is a risk involved.

He has been blunt at times when asked to assess certain players. He has used the terms "not very good" and "needs to be better" and "did you see him out there?" with regards to the showing, or non-showing of individuals to date.

Players tend to prefer the blisterings to be made behind closed doors. They don't like reading about their shortcomings in the newspaper. It's like a breach of trust.

A public account of that skewering, or the reasons for it, are another story.

If Vigneault is to continue his approach, he will have to pick his spots and continue to be accurate with his assessments. Don't take cheap shots for the sake of being quotable. But I don't have a problem with how direct he has been so far.

If a player can't handle the truth, then he is probably in the wrong market, and quite possibly the wrong profession.

Vigneault is not trying to sell papers. If the Canucks really do have a partnership with their fans, then honesty is the best approach. If Marc Chouinard loses 17 straight faceoffs, Vigneault can't say he didn't have enough tape on his stick. If Roberto Luongo whiffs on a 200-footer, Vigneault can't defend him. If Markus Naslund goes 20 games without a goal, Vigneault can't laud his back checking.

It is a fine line. Maintaining credibility with your players and your fan base.

For the media, he is a breath of fresh air. For the players, he might be a little too honest and open. For a change, we have a head coach who actually speaks his mind and doesn't spend much time worrying about the consequences.


Videos

Photos