Vigneault offers hope

KEN WIEBE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

The message Alain Vigneault plans to deliver is a simple one.

When the head coach of the Vancouver Canucks addresses his prospective players this morning at the first day of training camp in Victoria, B.C., Vigneault will let it to be known that -- contrary to popular belief -- there are jobs to be won.

"Part of the message in our orientation meeting to the group is that whoever deserves to be here and whoever helps us win games is going to be here," Vigneault said yesterday in a telephone interview from Vancouver. "It's not about contract status, it's about performance on the ice. It's going to be up to us as the organization, management and coaches to find room for the ones who deserve to be here.

"I've said this many times, for me talent has no age."

Vigneault's words are sure to be music to the ears of guys like Jason Jaffray, who led the AHL's Manitoba Moose in scoring last season and is going to camp with what he believes will be his first legitimate shot to earn NHL work.

"I need to show well at this camp," said Jaffray. "If contracts don't matter, maybe I can come into camp here and steal a job. You never know."

Even if he can't land a job out of camp, this is another chance for Jaffray to leave an impression with Vigneault, since there should be recall opportunities as the season goes on.

"I'm quite a different player to what I was when he coached me," said Jaffray, who played for Vigneault in 2005-06 with the Moose.

The Canucks are coming off a strong season that saw them win the Northwest Division title and finish third in the Western Conference.

After dispatching the Dallas Stars in an exciting series, the Canucks fell to the Anaheim Ducks, who ultimately won the Stanley Cup.

"Last year we feel we set the foundations, as far as the work ethic of this organization and the demands on individual and team preparation," said Vigneault. "We really want guys that have the team-first attitude. Basically, what we're looking for this year is more.

"We expect more from ourselves and more from the group. We really believe this group can perform to a high level."

The Canucks will play eight pre-season games before the regular season opens up Oct. 5 at GM Place against the San Jose Sharks.

"There's going to be great internal competition and that's why you have training camp," said Vigneault. "Up front, except for the (Sedin) twins playing together, everything else is up in the air. I'm not coming in here with a fixed idea that this guy is a fourth liner and this guy is a second liner. It all depends on how you play."


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