Vigneault's job on the line?

GUTS MCTAVISH, 24 HOURS VANCOUVER

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

Without the aid of The Amazing Kreskin (a.k.a. an older Jeff Goldblum on speed) I have no way of knowing how patient Canucks GM Mike Gillis will be with his coach, Alain Vigneault, who, for the record, is technically not his coach, although he did re-sign him.

A top-eight spot in the competitive Western Conference is about as tough to come by as an STD from a Jonas Brother. Nothing is guaranteed to the half dozen bubble teams out there.

That is why a team like the Blackhawks who have grand aspirations this year fired their coach Denis Savard after just four games. Now, word out of Calgary is coach Mike Keenan, a man who's seen more checks than a 1968 Russian tank driver, is suddenly on the hot seat. The Flames are built to win now and the Hawks are built to make a deep run soon. Can anyone honestly answer what the Canucks are built for?

The early returns showed that AV was able to manage an offensive first team successfully, something I'm sure Gillis was interested in seeing for himself. The trouble is that goal scoring can stall quicker than Dick Cheney's heart which tends to create an uncomfortable environment for a coach whose team can no longer outscore their mistakes. The special teams were not great when this team was 3-1 but not many followers made it a top-level concern. Now that the Canucks possess the 29th worst power play and the 24th worst penalty kill the special teams concern has been moved from duly noted to DEFCON 1.

The other way to sink a coach fast is for your superstar goaltender to perform well under his ability. If you need proof, check out the stats of Keenan's favourite chew toy Mikka Kiprusoff (4.37 GAA - .851 SV%). Not much worse than Luongo.

It's clear the bubble teams in the West are more than ready this season to pull the trigger early on a coaching change before their playoff bubbles have a chance to burst.


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