The Vancouver Canucks signed head coach Alain Vigneault to an extension and waved goodbye to a pair of his assistant coaches yesterday.
Vigneault’s deal will keep him in Western Canada through the 2009-10 season, while two of his assistants — Barry Smith and Mike Kelly — will be looking for new jobs.
The 47-year-old Vigneault was named the 16th coach in Canucks history in June of 2006 and has guided the team to a record of 88-59-17 in his two seasons behind the bench.
“This is a significant announcement for our hockey club,” said general manager Mike Gillis. “My first priority when taking over the job was to meet with Alain and ensure we shared the same philosophy about building an elite level team for now and for the future. Alain has done a very good job in his two years in Vancouver and I am confident that will continue.”
Last season, the Canucks finished last in the Northwest Division with a record 39-33-10 and missed the playoffs.
“I am pleased to be signing this extension to remain the head coach of such a great franchise,” said Vigneault. “Mike and I have had meaningful discussions about how we believe we can take the next step with this team to be as successful as we all hope to be. This is a team that I believe in and a city that I love living and working in.”
The 45-year-old Vigneault, former head coach of the Montreal Canadiens, spent last season behind the bench of Vancouver’s AHL team, the Manitoba Moose, in Winnipeg. Vigneault was nominated for the Jack Adams award as NHL Coach of the Year after the 1999-2000 season.
Manitoba finished in third place in the AHL’s North Division with 100 points and advanced to the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs.
Vigneault, who has a career record of 109-118-35-4, will take over for Marc Crawford, who was fired in April after the Canucks missed the playoffs for the first time since 2000.
Besides piloting the Canadiens from 1997-2001, he's spent time as an assistant with the Ottawa Senators and a head coach in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Smith had been with the organization for nine years and spent the last five as a Canucks assistant, while Kelly had spent the past three years in the Canucks organization and was an assistant at the NHL level since 2006.
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