June 23,2014(ISN) – Vancouver, B.C. – Vancouver Canucks General Manager Jim Benning announced today that Willie Desjardins has been named Head Coach of the Vancouver Canucks. With the appointment, Desjardins becomes the 18th Head Coach in club 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,” said Jim Benning, General Manager, Canucks Sports & Entertainment. “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. With Willie’s leadership behind the bench we look forward to bringing back this team’s winning qualities and our fans’ passion and excitement for the Canucks.”
Desjardins, 57, joins the Canucks from the 2014 Calder Cup Champion Texas Stars, where he led the team to their first Championship on June 17th. The Climax, Saskatchewan native was the third Head Coach in Texas Stars’ franchise history, joining the team on June 13, 2012. In his first year with the team, he led Texas to its first ever South Division regular season title and the number one seed in the Western Conference for the 2013 playoffs. Following the 2012-13 season Desjardins was named the winner of the Louis A.R. Pieri Award as the AHL’s Coach of the Year.
Prior to his tenure in the AHL, Desjardins spent two seasons as an associate coach with the Dallas Stars from 2010-12. During the 2011-12 campaign he served as assistant coach with Glen Gulutzan who was the Head Coach of the Dallas Stars.
He also served as Head Coach (2002-2010) and General Manager (2005-2010) of the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers, where he led the team to two Memorial Cup Tournaments and to the Memorial Cup Final in 2007. Desjardins won the Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy as WHL Coach of the Year for the 2005-06 season and was also the recipient of the Brian Kilrea Coach of the Year Award as the top coach in the Canadian Hockey League in 2006. His first stint in the WHL was as Head Coach of the Saskatoon Blades in 1997-98.
On the international stage, Desjardins has represented Canada as Head Coach in 2010 (silver) and Assistant Coach in 2009 (gold) at the World Junior Championships. He was an assistant coach for the Canadian national men’s team in 1998-99, when the team finished fourth at the 1999 IIHF World Championship in Norway.
Desjardins played major junior hockey for the Lethbridge Broncos of the Western Hockey League from 1974 through 1977. He won the 1982-83 Major W.J. “Danny” McLeod Award as the University Cup Tournament MVP, selected by the members of the CIS Men’s Hockey Coaches Association.
Desjardins and his wife Rhonda have three children, sons Brayden and Jayce and daughter Sheehan.