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Canucks fire Alain Vigneault as coach

Wednesday - 5/22/2013, 9:31pm  ET

FILE - In this March 16, 2013, file photo, Vancouver Canucks' head coach Alain Vigneault reacts on the bench near the end of the third period of the team's 5-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Canucucks said Wednesday, May 22, 2013, that Vigneault has been relieved of his duties as head coach. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck, File)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- The Vancouver Canucks fired coach Alain Vigneault on Wednesday.

The Canucks also fired assistants Rick Bowness and Newell Brown.

Vigneault, the Canucks' all-time leader in coaching wins, led the club to six Northwest Division titles, two Presidents' Trophy titles and an appearance in the 2011 Stanley Cup final.

But Vancouver was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in the past two seasons, including getting swept by the San Jose Sharks this year.

It was the first time in 12 years that the Canucks were swept in the postseason.

Vigneault has a 313-170-57 record over seven seasons in Vancouver, and a 33-32 record in the playoffs.

"We're in a results-oriented business and if you look at the last two playoffs we've been in, we were the higher-seeded team but lost the first two games at home," Canucks president and general manager Mike Gillis said at a news conference Wednesday.

"We lost consecutive games in the last two playoff years, and there comes a point in time where the message has to change and we have to be better. And we simply didn't get the result we expected."

Gillis wouldn't reveal the names of any coaches in the running to replace Vigneault, but said the team would have no problem attracting suitable candidates.

"We're in a competitive business, but I think this is a stable, profitable organization that is in a hockey market," he said. "I think it would be a very attractive place for a coach to come and coach."

The move had been expected since the Canucks were eliminated from the playoffs, but Gillis said he wanted to take time and ensure he was free of any emotion before making the decision.

It's a tough end to a largely positive tenure in Vancouver for Vigneault, who guided his team through the demands of a lockout-shortened season in 2012-13.

"I am proud of many of the things we accomplished as a group these past seven seasons in Vancouver and only wish we were able to win the Canucks' first Stanley Cup," Vigneault said in a statement.

"I am a career coach, and it is what I love to do. I hope to coach again in this league and will always have good memories of my time and the fans in Vancouver."

Vigneault kept a difficult goaltending situation from becoming a major distraction and secured home-ice advantage in the playoffs for the fifth straight season.

But the Canucks struggled this season with getting goals from secondary players.

Vigneault leaves after transforming the Canucks from a struggling club into a perennial contender. He was also recognized for his role in turning the Canucks around when he was awarded the 2007 Jack Adams Award as the NHL's coach of the year.

Vigneault thanked Gillis, the Aquilini family, other Canucks executives and players as well as former GM Dave Nonis, who hired him, and former Canucks executive Steve Tambellini.

"The past seven years have been an honor for me to coach and work for a great franchise in a wonderful Canadian city," Vigneault said. "To work in a city with such passionate and loyal fans is a privilege -- I enjoyed every moment of it."

When he arrived in 2006-07 after a season with the AHL's Manitoba Moose, the Canucks were looking to regroup after missing the playoffs. He was also looking to prove himself after being fired from his first NHL head coaching job with the Montreal Canadiens in 2000-01.

In his first season, he guided the Canucks to a division title and a spot in the second round of the playoffs before they were eliminated by the Anaheim Ducks in five games -- with four decided by one goal.

Although the Canucks missed the playoffs the following season due to a collapse down the stretch, they rebounded in 2009-10, again reaching the second round before losing a tough six-game series to Chicago.

The next season, he guided the Canucks to their third Stanley Cup final berth in franchise history. They took a 2-0 series lead at home but eventually lost in seven games to the Boston Bruins. The Game 7 loss at home sparked a riot in city streets.

The Stanley Cup final foreshadowed a shift in goaltending that would become a headache for Vigneault. Cory Schneider periodically replaced struggling starter Roberto Luongo in the series.

Vigneault managed to prevent any potential rifts between Luongo and Schneider and limited distractions to the team.

He answered endless questions about his goaltenders, especially after Schneider displaced Luongo in the first round of the 2011-12 playoffs as the Canucks lost in five games to the Los Angeles Kings.

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