Montreal had an awful start to the season. Their defense was still missing power-play quarterback Andrew Markov and free-agent signee Erik Cole was stumbling offensively and not providing the power and size to the Habs' diminutive group of forwards that he was supposed to. So who paid the price? Assistant Coach Perry Pearn. Subsequently the Canadiens have gone 7-2-1 over their past ten games.
The St.Louis Blues, also ravaged by injury, stumbled out of the gates - except for games against the Canucks, but those don't really count right now. They started the season still without uber-talented David Perron (the type of skilled top six guy the Canucks could really use right now, only they passed up in the draft), and quickly lost Andy McDonald. In fact a number of their offensive options have had poor starts to the 2011-12 season, and to sum it up, defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk is leading the team in scoring. To top it off their star goalie Jaroslav Halak was stinking the joint out so they had to go to journeyman Brian Elliot in net. And who took the fall? Head Coach Davis Payne.
The Blues' leadership duo of Doug Armstrong and John Davidson decided it was time to make a change, and if you thought the Canadiens were under pressure for their slow start consider the fact that there's new ownership rolling in to town in St. Louis and it's not exactly like new owners to keep a front office that is underachieving. Armstron and Davidson were happy to take Ken Hitchcock's salary off of Columbus' books and since he has turned the team around, saving the season and a lot of jobs, as the Blues have gone 6-3-1 in their past ten games.
There's some sort of recurring theme here isn't there?
In Vancovuer there's a total lack of secondary scoring and as always, injuries to key defenseman, and of course a goaltending controversy on top of it all. If hockey-mad Montreal can make a personnel change this early in the season why can't the Canucks?
Alain Vigneault got this team to within one win of the Stanley Cup last season, surely he should be afforded some grace in this tough start, right?
There are those who feel AV's lack of emotion and propensity to engage in unnecessary line-matching duels have actually cost this team, and there's an argument for that too. But each coach has their style and AV is relaxed, unforunately for him it looks like this team needs the type of emotional spark that comes from the top down because it sure isn't igniting in the dressing room amongst this group, as we have seen time and time again.
It's beginning to look like the hiring of Craig MacTavish in Chicago, the Nux AHL affiliate, is infact a safety net against this groups lack of response to their very Zen coach. AV has been (in my opinion) an excellent head coach and wouldn't be hard-up for work if the axe did fall. He has shown an ability to coach any style. When he arrived in Vancovuer he was known as a defensive specialist and then helped mould this team in to one of the top two or three offensive units in the league. But he hasn't shown the ability to alter his personality and it might be his undoing in Van.
Even coming off a Stanley Cup Finals appearance nobody in this league is safe if the results aren't there, and boy are they ever not there.