Vancouver Canucks hire Willie Desjardins

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Willie Desjardins gets his first shot at an NHL head coaching job, taking over the Vancouver Canucks.

The Vancouver Canucks announced on Monday that Willie Desjardins has been named their new head coach, replacing John Tortorella.

Desjardins, 57, spent the past two seasons coaching for the Texas Stars in the American Hockey League.

"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," Canucks general manager Jim Benning said in a statement released by the team. "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."

When Benning says that Desjardins has won at every level, he's not kidding.

His previous two head coaching jobs were with the Stars and the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League. In his two years behind the bench for the two clubs he never experienced a losing season and won three championships -- the 2003-04 and 2006-07 WHL titles, as well as this year's Calder Cup with Texas in the AHL.

During his two years in the AHL, Texas put two dominant teams on the ice and outscored their opponents 509-398 while outshooting them 5,273-4,281.

Along with his CHL and AHL work, Desjardins also coached Canada to Gold and Silver medals at the 2009 and 2010 World Junior Championships.

His only NHL coaching experience came when he spent two years as an assistant with the Dallas Stars.

Desjardins had emerged as a favorite to land the coaching job in Pittsburgh to replace Dan Bylsma, but that apparently fell through on Thursday evening.

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