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THE MOJ: Canucks should be nothing but embarrassed in wake of coaching change

Situation was very poorly handled and the team has no one to blame but themselves
Vancouver Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet, front left, and general manager Patrik Allvin listen during a news conference after the NHL hockey team announced Tocchet’s hiring, in Vancouver, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Mercifully, it’s over.

It had been speculated for weeks that Vancouver Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau would be relieved of his duties and the move finally took place this past Sunday when Rick Tocchet was introduced as the 21st head coach in the franchise’s history during a press conference at Rogers Arena.

For the last fortnight, it was widely reported that Tocchet, the 58-year-old former head coach of the Coyotes and Lightning, would take over in Vancouver.

The whole thing stunk – including the press conference.

The media availability session started off with Canucks General Manager Patrik Allvin setting the tone by stating that “as of this morning I decided to do a coaching change.”

That in itself was comical as everyone knows that it’s team president Jim Rutherford who calls the shots on every major decision in conjunction with the ownership group led by Francesco Aquilini.

It is, however, a concentrated effort by the organization to make Allvin look like the decision-maker but it sure didn’t fool the media, who then directed a barrage of questions towards Rutherford – not Allvin.

Rutherford then took ownership of being too open with some of his comments regarding his team’s play and the lack of structure associated with it. He apologised to Boudreau for being so transparent and even added that he needed to ‘zip it’ when it comes to his comments in the future.

But when pressed on how Boudreau was left to hang in the wind for a couple of weeks, Rutherford took a right turn and indirectly blamed the media for the situation.

“It was played out in way that was out of our control. We can only do our business the way we see fit. We can’t change our business based on speculation. There’s all kind of speculation out there. It’s not any different than most situations in professional sports,” explained Rutherford, then using Boudreau’s hiring in Vancouver as an example.

That’s pure garbage.

How did Tocchet’s name surface in the first place?

The media – particularly the so-called insiders – get the vast majority of their information from hockey executives and agents.

Either someone from the Canucks organization leaked that info or Tocchet did so himself.

Jeff Marek of Sportsnet even reported on Saturday that Tocchet would be named head coach on Monday. He was a day late with that call, but again, ask yourself the question - where did he get the information?

Then there was the press conference last Monday that was supposed to be an update on the Tanner Pearson’s medical situation but quickly delved into Boudreau’s status.

When pressed by TSN’s Farhan Lalji on whether or not the organization had spoken to potential replacement candidates, Rutherford responded that “I have – and I’m not going to get into names…and this is even going back a couple of months ago…that I have called a few people…yes.”

That’s not speculation.

That’s you telling everyone you’re looking for a replacement for Boudreau, so own it.

Sorry Jim but I’m not buying what you’re selling, and if you took a look at social media, I don’t think Canuck fans are either.

What the organization did to Boudreau was classless.

As soon as the ‘speculation’ got to ridiculous levels, the Canucks should have relieved Boudreau of his duties and appointed someone such as assistant coach Mike Yeo to take over the reigns until Tocchet’s alleged commitment to TNT as a studio analyst was observed.

When questioned on why that scenario didn’t play itself out, Rutherford answered by saying that Boudreau was ‘under contract’ until June 30.

That response was complete rubbish as well.

Boudreau was also under contract when he was dismissed this past Sunday.

Rutherford isn’t stupid.

The Canucks were going through a tough stretch in their schedule with five road games back east and then returning home to face Tampa, Colorado and Edmonton.

They let Boudreau be the fall guy.

Tocchet, meanwhile, takes over the team as it heads into an extremely soft part of their schedule as only four of their next dozen games are against teams that currently qualify for the playoffs.

No one is arguing that Bruce Boudreau’s job should not have been on the line.

Professional sports are about winning and Boudreau’s team wasn’t getting it done this year.

And it is management’s prerogative to make changes but there is a right way and wrong way to do things.

The Canucks embarrassed themselves on this one and no organizational spin can change that.

Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media. And check out his weekly podcast every Monday at Today in B.C. or your local Black Press Media website.

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