Canucks hire Willie Desjardins as coach

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Willie Desjardins was hired as coach of the Canucks on Monday, succeeding the fired John Tortorella after a season in which Vancouver missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

This is his first NHL head coaching job. He was an assistant with the Dallas Stars from 2010 to 2012 and most recently led the AHL’s Texas Stars to a Calder Cup title. Desjardins is the 18th head coach in Canucks history.

“Willie Desjardins has won at every level and we believe he’ll be an excellent fit as we strive to return to the playoffs and build with youth for long-term success,” general manager Jim Benning said in a statement.

“Willie is a great teacher, motivator and communicator. His teams have competed with a style of play we believe will help us compete in our division and in the playoffs.”

Tortorella coached Vancouver for just one year. Also dismissed after the season was former Canucks president and general manager Mike Gillis.

The 57-year-old Desjardins spent two years with Texas, winning the AHL’s coach of the year award in 2012-13 when he led the Stars to their first South Division regular-season title.

He also was coach (2002-2010) and general manager (2005-2010) of the Western Hockey League’s Medicine Hat Tigers. He led the team to two Memorial Cup tournaments, including the 2007 final.

Desjardins was the WHL coach of the year for the 2005-06 season. He was honored as the top coach in the Canadian Hockey League in 2006.

He was on Canada’s staff at two world junior tournaments and one world championship. He also coached the University of Calgary and in Japan.

Associated Press

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