As cool as a cucumber

BARRY MACDONALD -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

He wasn't exactly an unknown commodity at this time a year ago. But then again, Alain Vigneault wasn't drawing comparisons to Scotty Bowman either.

We were left to assume that Dave Nonis knew exactly what he was doing when he plucked Vigneault from that minor league mecca of Manitoba to reverse the fortunes of the Vancouver Canucks. So far, so good.

I have editorial licence here. I can reflect on last year, on the foundation laid by Vigneault. If he was the gatekeeper, this column wouldn't get past him.

Getting a puck past Roberto Luongo is easier than getting a discussion on last year from Vigneault. He will allow that it was a building block, and that folks, is pretty much it. Completely insignificant now. Ancient history. Done.

He subscribes to that time-honoured, coaching adage that suggests you stop improving when satisfaction sets in. Nothing that happened last season will have a tangible impact on this one. Vigneault doesn't want Markus Naslund addressing concerns about his lack of production in 2006-07. It's in the rear-view mirror, it can't be changed, it's negative, no need to go there. What matters is the here, and the now.

I have covered the Canucks for 20 years in this market, and have dealt with seven different head coaches. After one season, I can say that Vigneault is the easiest to deal with. He doesn't get consumed by the stress ... he doesn't treat the everyday questions with disdain .... he recognizes the media scrutiny goes with the territory and that we are conduits to the fans ... and he allows his human side to surface. He has a charm, and likeability quotient.

I'm not sure that is prominent on the personality profile of many head coaches in any sport.

I said in this space last spring that Vigneault's defining moment in his first year with the Canucks came last fall. His new system had been implemented, not without problems. They could not score. Paris Hilton was almost summoned as a consultant. Vigneault stayed the course, maintained a level of calm and preached patience, along with persistence. You know the rest. A Northwest Division title. A first-round playoff series win over Dallas. Respect for the organization. Coach of the year honours for Vigneault.

But that was last year. File it. His request to this year's bunch won't change. Be accountable. Work hard. Make sure your actions support your words.

It's really not asking too much. After one year, it's a little bold to suggest the 16th head coach in the history of the Vancouver Canucks might just end up being the best. Time will measure that. He is off to a very good start ... not that he is reflecting on it however.

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Barry Macdonald is co-host of BS in the Morning on the Team 1040 from 6-9 a.m.


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