Using my rating system, there are two ways for an NHL coach to score a five point season: 1) he can have a winning season but fail to have a winning percentage of .600 or more; win his division; make the playoffs; reach the finals; and win the Stanley Cup; and 2) have a winning season; have a winning percentage of .600 or better; make the playoffs; reach the Stanley Cup finals but fail to win the Stanley Cup.
Sadly, for Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault, it was the second option that was the end result in what was otherwise a stellar season for himself and the Canucks.
The 2010-11 Season was supposed to be a culmination and a coronation for the team and Alain Vigneault. All the signs heralded this possibility. This was the greatest Canucks team of all time. Individual honors aplenty rained down upon the Canucks players and its team personnel.
From October 9, 2010 to June 4, 2011, the team was unstoppable. All indicators showed that the curse of Marty McSorley was going to be exorcised for all time. The City of Vancouver was going to celebrate its first Stanley Cup win since 1915 (when Frank Patrick won it in the PCHA).
Then came June 6, 2011, D-Day in history; and also the day Vancouver’s Aaron Rome knocked Boston’s Nathan Horton flat on the ice.
One would have thought that Rome’s hit would have nailed the Bruins coffin shut.
Instead what followed was a collapse that boggled the minds of all devoted hockey fans, a disintegration so complete as to be staggering.
When it all ended it was Boston that hoisted the Stanley Cup and Vancouver left desolate, in pieces, like survivors from an icy war.
It seemed shocking then but when you look back at Vancouver’s (and Alain Vigneault’s) loss one is reminded of similar collapses in history when seemingly unstoppable forces are halted, thwarted, and
ultimately defeated… the German Army at the Marne River in 1914 in the first six weeks of World War I… the Martians in H.G. Wells’ book War of the Worlds stopped by germs… the Baltimore Colts losing Super Bowl III… Georgetown losing to tiny Villanova in the 1985 NCAA Tournament.
Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of grit or a tiny little jar to knock an unstoppable machine out of commission.
And so it was for Alain Vigneault and the Vancouver Canucks in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs. They were the unstoppable machine that knocked out of commission by the emotional grit and jarring physical blows of the Boston Bruins.
Past is Prologue… even in Hockey.
Next Week’s article will feature: Mr. Six.