Cherry says Canuck coaches 'thrown down the drain'
Vancouver GM to blame for team's playoff ouster: Grapes
Don Cherry has fired a few more salvos in the direction of Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis.
In discussing Wednesday’s firing of Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault, along with his assistants Rick Bowness and Newell Brown, Cherry said the trio was "thrown under the bus."
Cherry also said during his Coach’s Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada that Gillis is the person who kept the Sedin twins, Daniel and Henrik, with the team despite the pair’s poor goal-scoring performances over the past two post-seasons.
The twins failed to score in a four-game sweep at the hands of San Jose in Round 1 of this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. Daniel also didn’t score in two games during last year’s playdowns, while Henrik fired two goals in five contests last spring.
"He’s the guy that had the controversy with the goaltenders [Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider during the regular season].
And three good guys go down the drain for him," Cherry said, referring to Gillis.
"As far as I’m concerned, the general manager threw three good guys down the drain and that’s a shame. [It’s] his fault, all the way. Vigneault, I just get to know your name and you’re gone."
The 52-year-old Vigneault, a Quebec City native, leaves Vancouver with a 313-170-57 record, the most victories by a coach in franchise history, and six division titles.
Stanley Cup appearance
In 2011, he guided the Canucks to their third Stanley Cup final berth, losing in seven games to Boston after winning the first two contests on home ice.
Last spring, Schneider replaced a struggling Luongo in a Western Conference quarter-final against Los Angeles, which prevailed in five games en route to a Stanley Cup championship.
This season, Vigneault managed to prevent any rifts between the two netminders and limited distractions to the team as Luongo and Schneider became close friends.
The uncomfortable situation was supposed to be resolved after Luongo agreed to waive his no-trade clause before this lockout-shortened season, but Gillis was unable to consummate a deal before the end of the 113-day lockout on Jan. 6.
Two weeks ago, Cherry told Hockey Night viewers Gillis didn’t have the "guts" to move Schneider before the April 3 NHL trade deadline, and that was the reason for Vancouver being eliminated in Round 1 of the playoffs.
The Hockey Night personality said Gillis could have netted "a small fortune" for Schneider, who won six of eight starts leading to the trade deadline and finished with a 2.11 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in 30 starts during the regular season.
He started two of the Canucks’ four playoff games versus San Jose and posted a 4.62 GAA and .880 save percentage, while Luongo had a 2.57 GAA and .915 save percentage in the post-season.
"They [Canucks] did pretty good in the regular season," Cherry said on May 8 of Vancouver’s 26-15-7 mark and third-place finish in the West, "but they weren’t clicking. It looked like the players, to me, were always looking for the other shoe to drop. And now they’re going to blame [head coach Alain] Vigneault?"
At the time, Grapes added Vigneault "is a good coach" and shouldn’t be fired.