This week, the Canucks fired their assistant coaches and extended head coach Alain Vigneault. It's certainly the buzz around the hockey community, at least in the coaching fraternity.
I had a chance to speak with Vigneault Thursday afternoon and he talked about both scenarios. One, where he had to deliver the news to Barry Smith and Mike Kelly that they were no longer employed by the Vancouver Canucks. Vigneault said that was the toughest thing he's ever had to face, professionally speaking.
Two, in terms of his own extension, that became clear over the past couple of days and it was the product of numerous conversations with new general manager Mike Gillis. They've talked several times over the past month, since Gillis replace Dave Nonis, and as he said, they are like-thinkers. They are both on the same page.
Gillis and Vigneault plan to get together this weekend with assistant general manager Steve Tambellini to talk about some of the assistant coach candidates. They will each compile their own lists of candidates to replace Smith and Kelly going forward.
Anaheim general manager Brian Burke says it isn't a deadline, but it really is a deadline. He wants an answer from Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer as to their intentions for next year, and it wants it before the NHL Entry Draft (June 20).
It's a little clouded when you compare both situations, keeping in mind that Niedermayer has a year remaining on his contract, while Selanne is an unrestricted free agent.
I spoke to Niedermayer and he's not entirely sure what he's going to do. His number one priority at the moment is awaiting the birth of his fourth child. His wife is due in early June so that is pre-occupying him for the moment. He understands why Burke and the Ducks would want their decisions - so they don't have to go through the same uncertainty that they went through last year - and he intends to abide by Burke's request.
As for Selanne, again, he's an unrestricted free agent. So this was more of a courtesy being requested by Burke. Selanne has said that if he's playing in the NHL, he wants to play for the Anaheim Ducks.
At the moment, though, the future of both players remains up in the air.
A Word from the Head Office
They haven't talked yet, but you are going to see Mike Murphy and Kris King of the NHL's hockey operations department meet with the Penguins and the Red Wings. At the morning skate on Saturday, which is traditional, they are going to reinforce one more time the officiating standards. They are going to say the officials are going to call the games the same way they did in the conference finals.
They are going to pay attention, though, to the crease. That speaks to Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen (when he returns) and potential crease violations because of the physical contact with the goaltenders that we've seen throughout this postseason run.