With all the talk about NHL players escaping to Europe and the negotiation battles between the NHL and the NHLPA, not many have mentioned the NHL coaches. For all we know, they could be sitting in front of the TV with a bowl of popcorn all day. However, the Canucks’ coaching staff have found ways to keep busy, briefly returning to Vancouver this month to conduct community and grassroots hockey initiatives.
Alain Vigneault, Rick Bowness, Newell Brown, Darryl Williams and Roland Melanson have all spent most of their time in different places across the continent, from Vigneault’s parents house to California to New Brunswick.
“For a while it was a running joke,” Vigneault told the Vancouver Sun of living with his mom and dad. “I was doing some renovations on my home and I had to move back in with my parents.”
After flying to Vancouver, the coaching team had an action-packed weekend. On November 15th they visited BC Children’s Hospital, spending time with the children and their families and distributing gifts. In the evening they answered questions from players, parents and coaches in the Langley Minor Hockey Association at a hockey town hall meeting in the Langley Events Centre.
Much of their time was spent with children, as the next day they visited schools in Vancouver to share their knowledge. Vigneault, Williams and Melanson visited a grade 6/7 class from Oppenheimer Elementary. They ran basic hockey drills in their physical education class and conducted a question and answer session on health and fitness. Bowness and Brown targeted an older age group when they visited the Britannia Hockey Academy at Britannia Secondary School. They ran a course on the business of professional hockey and what it takes to run a professional team. On the evening of the 16th, they regrouped at the annual Sports Celebrities Festival, a dinner for the Special Olympics.
Finally, November 18th was spent conducting practices at Rogers Arena for selected minor hockey teams. The coaches have spent much of their time sharing their knowledge with the city of Vancouver, and through doing that are reminded of how much they have missed coaching in the NHL over the past few months.
“I really miss my players, really miss the whole environment around the team,” said Vigneault. He even misses the media and the press conferences.
“I swear to God, I miss you guys,” Vigneault continued to tell the Vancouver Sun. I’m looking so forward to getting back and having one of those special pre-game press conferences with you guys. I can’t wait to do that again.”
Since nobody has any idea when Vigneault will get a chance to have a press conference again, he has travelled to Chicago to evaluate two players, Zack Kassian and Chris Tanev, who are playing for the Canucks’ AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves. He has also been planning what the Canucks’ powerplay will look like once the season rolls around. Vigneault and the rest of the coaching staff are ready and willing to return at any time. But the big question still remains: when will that be?