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COACHES - 66.6% TURNOVER Part 3 of 3

In Vancouver and Toronto, bigtime playoff disappointments led to the axing of very capable coaches in Marc Crawford and Pat Quinn. It is ironic to note that these two warriors were the last two coaches of Team Canada at the Olympic Games. Though both teams seasons were letdowns from previous years, it can be said that the Canucks underachieved, while the Leafs, with a late meaningless surge, overachieved. Ironically, Crawford, who won a Stanley Cup (Toronto 39 years and counting) with Colorado in 1996, started out in the Leafs system with St.John. Many saw him behind the Leafs bench this year. Instead the Leafs opted for Paul Maurice, who's had all of one successful season (2002) flipping lines and withstanding the obscurity that was the Hartford/Carolina spectrum. Canucks GM Dave Nonis mimicked John Ferguson Jr. by promoting his AHL farm teams coach. The similarities do not end there. Both Maurice and the Canucks new boss Alain Vigneault are former NHL coaches with something to prove. Curiously, the Canucks were at one time pondering the rehire of former Vancouver coach and GM Quinn. Similarly, both GM's would not hire coaches (Crawford and Quinn) who could eventually have their back.
Bevied by a slew of off season signings, Maurice will need to get off to a good start in order to slay off a media lynchmob horny for Fergusons head. With an appetite rivaling Hannibal Lector, the Buds press scrum will be disecting each move the sacrifice known as Maurice will make. The coach will keep one eye on a Leaf powerplay that was killer last year, while keeping the other eye focused on the need to improve the D. Maurice may live and die with the quality of his goaltending. G Andrew Raycroft, an expensive draft day aquisition, has proven in the past, to be only as good as the quality of the shots the defense allows. Maurice could be forced to coach a trap system he's familiar with that Toronto hasn't seen since the days of Pat Burns. Not unlike the Montreal Canadiens, the youth of the teams makeup may go far in deciding where it eventually places. On the positive, new blood in Toronto has a habit of being motivated from the get-go. It better be - a bad start here is akin to a tolling bell!
Promoted from the AHL Manitoba Moose ( what is the plural of moose? ), new coach Vigneault is a logical step. The former Habs skipper is a past runner up for the Jack Adams trophy (Coach of the Year) in a season where his team fought valliantly through almost 400 man games lost to injury, only to miss the playoffs by one win. Vigneault's main asset is that he manages to get the most out of his supporting staff. The criticism is that he does this to the detriment of star players demands of icetime. To this end, in Montreal, he coached around the bitching of F's Mark Recchi and Vincent Damphousse while riding the efforts of more defensive players. The Canucks loss of D Ed Jovanovski was countered by the addition of G Roberto Luongo. The coach should feel that luck is on his side. When Vigneault inked his deal, his goaltenders were Dan Cloutier and Alex Auld. Days after his signing, he was handed Luongo. Kinda like going to bed with k.d. lang and waking up next to Pamela Anderson. The Canucks are only slightly better than a year ago's finish. Goaltending will be the difference.