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The Problem With Willie D

willie desjardins

After a pretty good season last year from rookie coach Willie Desjardins, I never really thought I was going to write an article like this.

But here I am.

My biggest issue with Desjardins this year is the way he’s developing the young kids. If it weren’t clear it’s probably clear now, he doesn’t trust the young guns. When you go from rolling almost four lines in the first two periods to just three lines in the 3rd, that’s a real problem. If this continues throughout the season, the vets will start to wear out, and fatigue will set in come playoffs if they somehow make it that is. Although Horvat averaged about 12 minutes per game of ice time last year, I find the situation to be different this year as there were more vets on the team last year than this year. Canucks need the young guns to be playing a bigger role if they don’t, Canucks won’t succeed on the ice.

Unfortunately sooner the later I could see Virtanen and McCann being sent down to Junior so Willie doesn’t have to continue this trend anymore so he’s not wearing out the vets and he can go back to rolling four lines.  It seems like when Desjardins realizes something is going well for him, he suddenly steps off the gas and hits reverse and tries to go the other way with a blindfold on. Well let me tell you, it’s not going to work like that. This is why I can see guys like Virtanen and McCann going back to junior.

Look the team doesn’t look that great on paper but it’s good enough to be in some games and even win a few. But the writing is on the wall, no coach, not even Scotty Bowman, can take this team to a Stanley Cup. What matters this year is transitioning the new guys in and the old guys out and developing the players.

Blake Price from TSN 1040 made a great point on Tuesday afternoon on the Canucks Lunch radio show, why doesn’t Willie put out the kids for 3 on 3 OT? What does he have to lose there? Put out McCann, Virtanen and Hutton and see how it goes? You lose you get a point, you win you get two points. Obviously I wouldn’t go in with that attitude late into the season if you’re close to a playoff spot, but right now play your kids. Let them get some big minutes. Let them develop. Jared McCann isn’t going to become the Joe Sakic everyone thinks he will become if he’s playing 78 seconds in the 3rd period.

The hill Willie dies on will be the way he handles the youth movement in Vancouver. If he doesn’t change his ways, he won’t be around much longer. Very soon you’ll be seeing more kids coming up to play on the team, and if you aren’t going to develop them the right way, I can’t see Benning sticking with him quite longer. Canucks will need to find someone shortly who’s a teacher and has lots of patience for rookie mistakes.


Written by: Kevin Cawthra
Image via Darryl Dyck/CP 

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