What's Vigneault's fate?

BARRY MACDONALD -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

It has been more than a month since the Vancouver Canucks last played a hockey game. There are still four and a half months to go before they play their next one.

The question we pose here today is: What the hell is going to happen in the interim? So many questions, so little time.

There has been one significant off-season move, of course. Mike Gillis assumed the general manager's chair upon the dismissal of Dave Nonis.

That was more than three weeks ago, and it was then Gillis discussed his immediate priorities. One was to determine the fate of head coach Alain Vigneault. That still hasn't been determined, but it should be, and sooner rather than later.

Because once that domino falls, so much else can fall into place. Gillis has room to manipulate the Canucks' roster, overhaul more succinctly, and what he does with his head coaching position will impact who embraces Vancouver as a possible destination. As appealing as Vancouver might be geographically, any potential free agent will want to know who he is playing for before making a decision on an address change.

Vancouver has eight forwards under contract for next season, two that would seem to fit what Gillis wants. Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows play with speed and a decent level of belligerence. I think Matt Pettinger can be a fit here. Mason Raymond is too young and too promising to give up on, but is hardly untouchable. Gillis didn't exactly endorse the Sedins upon his arrival, but they won't be easy to move for a number of reasons, including the GM's lukewarm endorsement of their resumes to date.

As for the seven free agent forwards, one name remains the most intriguing: Markus Naslund.

Had the new GM not been his agent in a previous life, the idea of Naslund returning here was laughable. It was universally conceded that the captain needed a change. A new start. A new city.

His relationship with Gillis makes for interesting discussion. Would he stay here now? At what price? And would he be alright with Vigneault staying on as head coach? I still maintain that the best move for Markus is one that involves an airplane.

Brendan Morrison is still attractive at the right place coming off knee surgery, but the quartet of Shannon, Ritchie, Isbister and Rypien won't be on the GM's "must do" list.

A trade involving a defenceman and/or prospects should be anticipated. Assuming Roberto Luongo is committed to this market, Cory Schneider should be made available and, along with one of the top four defencemen, should net the Canucks some sort of top-six forward.

Given the cap room, Gillis can work the free-agent angle as well with rumours persisting that Pavol Demitra and possibly Marian Hossa could end up here.

But let's figure out who the coach is going to be. Vigneault has been twisting in the wind long enough.

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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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