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[Willie Desjardins]CoachCareer 6/3 update:In Calder Cup Final


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Jack Campbell is the backup goalie.

Scott Glennie is 9th on the team in scoring (going by playoff stats).

Ritchie is 10th (albeit few GP)

Gaunce is a dman, so harder to judge.

Faska has a grand total of four points.

Its not like Desjardins has been sitting back and relying on high draft picks who are about to make the step to the NHL in the near future.

http://www.texasstarshockey.com/stats/player-stats

3 top 15 picks.

That's alot more than some teams have to work with.

Like i said, they also have a good contingent of AHL vets too.

Just making a point that just because he's won a championship, doesn't mean he's some guru of grooming young talent. I remember people saying the same thing about Eakins, and look how well he turned out in Edmonton.

Sometimes hype is nothing more than that.

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3 top 15 picks.

That's alot more than some teams have to work with.

Like i said, they also have a good contingent of AHL vets too.

Just making a point that just because he's won a championship, doesn't mean he's some guru of grooming young talent. I remember people saying the same thing about Eakins, and look how well he turned out in Edmonton.

Sometimes hype is nothing more than that.

Willie has coached a decade longer than eakins while eakings played for the moose.

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3 top 15 picks.

That's alot more than some teams have to work with.

Like i said, they also have a good contingent of AHL vets too.

Just making a point that just because he's won a championship, doesn't mean he's some guru of grooming young talent. I remember people saying the same thing about Eakins, and look how well he turned out in Edmonton.

Sometimes hype is nothing more than that.

Very true.

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Kuzma: Banging the Desjardins drum in the Canucks coaching hunt

Texas Stars coach could be a good fit in Vancouver, especially if Trotz goes to Washington

BY BEN KUZMA, THE PROVINCE

Vern Fiddler is best known in these parts for his hilarious Kevin Bieksa Angry Face impersonation.

It was so spot-on during a Feb. 26, 2012, line change in Dallas that the Stars forward had the Vancouver bench in stitches. Former Canucks coach Alain Vigneault was laughing so hard he hid behind his lineup card.

Today, the 34-year-old Fiddler is a free agent but has always remained free of speech. Willie Desjardins was a Stars associate coach to Glen Gulutzan during that Fiddler comedy routine, but there was nothing funny about how serious Desjardins took his NHL role. And with Canucks president of hockey operations Trevor Linden starting the interview process this week to find a replacement for the fired coaches John Tortorella and Mike Sullivan and knowing he must wait to approach Desjardins and John Stevens because theyre in the AHL and NHL playoffs respectively with the Texas Stars and Los Angeles Kings Fiddler is banging the Desjardins drum.

Add the fact that former Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz is reportedly close to joining the Washington Capitals and that Desjardins drumming just got louder.

Hes a great motivator and he knows how to find the best in every player thats why hes been so successful, said Fiddler, who also played for Trotz. One of the biggest things I noticed is that he really cares about everybody and he knows that everybody is different. I was in the league for six or seven years and he still found a way to get more out of you. Even as an assistant coach, he was a guy who would push you to different levels and I definitely found that guys respected him for that.

At 57, Desjardins has yet to run an NHL bench but that wont keep him from serious consideration here. The career numbers are outstanding a 48-18-3-7 AHL record this season and two titles in eight WHL seasons with the Medicine Hat Tigers as coach and general manager from 2002-10. He was also on the coaching staff of Canadas world junior teams in 2009-10, winning gold and silver respectively, and coached in Japan and at the University of Calgary. At the pro level, hes developed prospects and got the crucial buy-in from veterans. And if the Canucks start the season with seven players north of 30, that motivational element will be vital.

You obviously have to turn to your room sometimes and he did a great job with that, added Fiddler. He respected our opinions, and when he was running our penalty kill, he would definitely consider them. He didnt have an ego that it was going to be his way or no way. It was always the collective of what can we do to be better? He did what was best and wants to be an NHL head coach. Youve seen what hes done with that (AHL) team. Hes taken them from the bottom of the barrel to the top now and hes getting the success he deserves.

He did it the old-fashioned way. Desjardins played Junior A in Moose Jaw and Swift Current, two seasons with Lethbridge of the WCHL, played for Dave King at the University of Saskatchewan and then spent a year in Holland before coaching.

Linden plans to travel the same selection route that he did to hire general manager Jim Benning. The former Boston Bruins assistant general manager answered the franchise need for a strong personnel evaluator, supreme scouting background and a proven track record with the 2011 Stanley Cup champions.

Its building a profile and a criteria of what that person is and what we want in that person, and were going to decide that first, Linden said of hiring a coach within the next month or two. Were going to have a comprehensive list of questions and dig into those areas that we need to dig into. Ultimately, that alignment between Jim, myself and the coach has to be completely in line or its going to be problematic.

Desjardins has that interesting link to Gulutzan, who was retained by the Canucks because of his work with younger players, and that could play into choosing a coach.

There were a few reasons for it and Glen is a good coach, added Linden. You never know. The coaching landscape, like the management landscape, changes so quickly. People that were on my list from Day 1 changed a week later, and thats probably going to be the case with this (coaching). And some teams are in the playoffs.

Its customary for a general manager to hire coaches, so Benning will have a lot of input, and if hes looking for familiarity, he could appoint Bruins assistant coach Doug Houda as an associate coach. What about the head guy?

This organization needs to play an up-tempo, fast skating and skilled game, said Benning. Before last season, this team had a relentless attitude that they were going to skate and wear teams down and score. I hope we hire the right coach and recapture that.

He then said it was imperative that the new coach be a proven winner but not necessarily at the NHL head-coaching level.

Sounds a lot like Desjardins.

bkuzma@theprovince.com

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Stephen Whyno @SWhyno

#Canucks haven't called #Stars about Willie Desjardins ... yet. When they do, Jim Nill won't stand in the way: http://bit.ly/SvXqlh

Jim Nill won't be surprised if his phone starts ringing after Calder Cup final.

The Dallas Stars general manager has heard all the talk about his minor league coach Willie Desjardins, who has led the Texas Stars to the AHL championship, being a hot candidate for an NHL job. Nill says he'll even help make it happen.

"No teams have called yet, but that's out of respect for our team still being in the playoffs in Texas," Nill said in a recent phone interview. "He's definitely an up-and-coming NHL coach and he deserves the opportunity. That's a compliment to him and it's a compliment to our organization, so we would not hold him back."

For his part, Desjardins said he's not worried about an NHL job right now. His focus is on the Calder Cup, but the 57-year-old Climax, Sask., native is considered a top candidate for the Vancouver Canucks as a replacement for the fired John Tortorella.

Desjardins isn't the polar opposite of the fiery Tortorella. Nill and Shaun Clouston, Desjardins' assistant with the Medicine Hat Tigers and now their head coach, use the word "intense" to describe him.

But what Clouston recalls about Desjardins, who won two WHL championships in Medicine Hat, is the amount of time and energy he put into one-on-one chats with players on bus rides from city to city.

"The game is over or maybe it's an off day and we're travelling to the next city and he calls a guy up from the back of the bus to the front of the bus and they're just sitting side-by-side in their seats, and then a half an hour might go by, two hours — literally two hours might go by and they're still talking."

"I think that he does a great job of individually getting the best out of each player. So it's not just x's and o's with Willie. It's building relationships with each of his players."

But the Canucks aren't considering Desjardins for his communication skills alone. What he has shown in Texas is an ability to quickly mould a team into a contender while mixing and matching veterans and young players.

Half the battle at the junior and AHL level is developing players to get to the NHL. If Vancouver goes through a youth movement, Desjardins' philosophy seems a good fit.

"I think you develop by playing to win," Desjardins said in a phone interview. "You never just play to play, you play to win, and I think when young players realize that, their only choice is to learn to play that way as well. I think that's how you develop. You set high standards and if players want to play, they have to meet those standards."

Desjardins' personal standards are high. In 10 seasons as a head coach he has just one season with a points percentage under .500 and has never missed the playoffs. His winning resume mirrors that of Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper and Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, whose titles at multiple levels punched their tickets to the NHL.

Unlike Cooper and Boudreau, though, Desjardins has NHL coaching experience from working as an assistant to Marc Crawford and Glen Gulutzan — who's still on staff in Vancouver — for the Stars. If he's running a bench next season, it'll be with eyes wide open.

"I think the big thing in the NHL was just to get a chance to work with the players and see how they operate," Desjardins said. "It was a good experience for me to go up and see exactly how things work at that level."

Ultimately, Desjardins doesn't see a major difference between coaching in the WHL, AHL and NHL. Players are older and stronger, he said, but the principles remain the same.

Those developed over a lifetime in hockey that included stints on Canada's staff at two world junior tournaments and one world championship. Along the way, Dave King and Andy Murray were major influences as Desjardins developed his own style.

"He's a very open-minded coach and he's grabbing bits and pieces that he learns from either other coaches or analyzing other situations or reading books. He's very open that way," Nill said. "Everybody's unique, everybody's got their own style. And everybody has to coach the team you have."

Nill and Clouston complimented Desjardins' ability to adapt to different teams and situations.

"He likes to play a certain style, but he also knows you have to fill in the right holes," Nill said. "You've got to be a square peg in a square hole type of thing, and he knows that. He makes players adapt and he gets the most out of players."

If he's tabbed to take part of the rebuilding or retooling effort in Vancouver, that will again be tested. Daniel and Henrik Sedin are beginning matching four-year contracts, and several players remain from the group that fell one victory short of the Stanley Cup in 2011.

One thing that helps Desjardins is a history of winning twice in the WHL and being three victories away from capturing the Calder Cup with different groups.

"Every team has different personnel and different strengths and weaknesses, but the underlying theme of all those teams is that they want to win and they have leaders that want to win," Desjardins said. "If you don't have the leaders that want to win, it's difficult to win. The underlying theme is the leadership and what they want and the desire they have."

Stevens and Desjardins both have been touted for their work individually with players (particularly young players) even if they have different styles. I've been a fan of Stevens since last year but certainly Desjardins has grown on me too as a top choice to coach this team.

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