Willie Desjardins is on the verge of accepting a multi-year contract to become the Vancouver Canucks’ new head coach, according to a report Friday:
According to Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy, the Canucks had interviewed Mike Johnston, Peter Horachek, Marc Crawford and Dan Bylsma for John Tortorella’s old post. There were plans to speak with both Scott Arniel and Desjardins as well.
A long-believed frontrunner to succeed Tortorella, the 57-year-old Desjardins led his AHL Texas Stars to the Calder Cup championship Tuesday but skipped the team’s celebration Thursday.
Desjardins interviewed with the Pittsburgh Penguins via telephone Wednesday, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
If Desjardins is hired, this will be his first NHL head coaching job.
“The most important qualification is the toughest one to identify, and that’s the ability to connect with the players and get them to play for him,” Linden told Sportsnet Thursday of Vancouver's search for a coach. “You look at past performances from their teams. You try to judge the person. Get a sense of who they are, what they are, how authentic and genuine they are and try to pick up on that. You try to talk to players who’ve played for that coach and had experience with that person.”
Linden said there is a good chance a new coach will be announced prior to next Friday's draft.
The Canucks fired Tortorella on May 1 after he posted a 36-35-11 record and missed the playoffs in his lone season with the club. The Canucks had just 13 wins in the 41 games since Jan. 1 and finished 25th overall.
TribLive.com's Rob Rossi reported Friday that the Penguins missed out on their first choice for their new coach.
“The guy I had is going to go in a different direction,” general manager Jim Rutherford told Rossi Friday afternoon. That finalist was Desjardins, Sportsnet has learned. “I'll work off the same list I had, but it will be expanded by two or three names that for whatever reason weren't considered for interviews the last time.”