Source: Ben Matchett, Calgary Assistant AthleticDirector Communications
CALGARY – Nearly three decades after getting his coachingstart at the University of Calgary, Willie Desjardins cracked oneof hockey’s most exclusive clubs when he was named head coach ofthe Vancouver Canucks on Monday.
Desjardins makes the jump to the National Hockey League afterwinning a Calder Cup championship with the Texas Stars of theAmerican Hockey League last season, spending two years there aftera pair of seasons as an associate coach with the Dallas Stars.
Thesojourn to the Lone Star State followed a lengthy and successfulstint as head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WesternHockey League, where he won a pair of league championships and madetwo appearances at the Memorial Cup.
Willie DesjardinsHe has seen success at every level of coaching– but it all started in 1985 at the University of Calgary,when he became an assistant coach with the Dinos hockey programwhile embarking on his studies in the Faculty of Social Work. Thenative of Climax, Sask. joined a staff led by the legendary GeorgeKingston, and the Dinos posted a 23-5-0 record in 1987-88 to winthe league title, making it all the way to the nationalsemi-final.
Kingston, the only other former Dinos bench boss to reach thepinnacle of hockey coaching when he led the San Jose Sharks from1991-93, wrapped up his 16-year tenure after the 1987-88 season andthe job went to the then-31-year-old Desjardins. In his six seasonsat the helm, the Dinos won 21 or more regular season games threetimes, captured the conference title in 1990, and again made it tothe national semi-final that same year. His Dinos teams posted 113wins, 44 losses, and 11 ties in 168 conference games over thatspan, good enough for an outstanding .705 winning percentage.
Desjardins was the Dinos’ coach the only time a University ofCalgary player has won the Senator Joseph A. Sullivan trophy as thetop men’s hockey player in CIS – Wayne Hynes in 1991 –and six of his players were named first-team All-Canadians duringhis tenure.
Desjardins, 57, holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in socialwork from the University of Calgary.