Linden: Willie Desjardins Will Return Next Season

Despite an outcry from Vancouver fans that the team is a mess, president of hockey operations Trevor Linden told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman that head coach Willie Desjardins will return next season, dispelling any rumors that his job might be in danger.

During Saturday’s “Headlines” segment on Sportsnet Friedman said, “Earlier this week, I had a chance to speak to Trevor Linden and one of the things he said was, ‘End any speculation about Willie Desjardins’ future. There’s no doubt he will be back as head coach of the Canucks’.”

Linden confirmed that to Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province, adding that the entire coaching staff will return.

“We expected to be very young this year — which we are — and we’ve handed Willie a real challenge with several rookies on any give night and I think he has performed well,” Linden said. “I’m not making any excuses, but there’s no reason for us to consider a change. The rookies have made steps. Nothing is perfect.”

“I like the fact he connects well with the players and he understands them and respects them. And these are tough circumstances. Our group for the most part has played hard and he gets the most out of them.”

While things have gone poorly in Vancouver — they’re 12 points out of a playoff spot — Desjardins has been handed a difficult situation, with veterans that block a full rebuild, rumors of meddling higher powers and a fleet of young players battling for ice time.

Next year will be a test for the team, with Desjardins starting with his seat a touch on the warm side.

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