Cherry criticizes Canucks general manager Gillis on Coach’s Corner

TORONTO — The Canadian Press

Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis speaks to the media after announcing the firing of head coach Alain Vigneault in Vancouver, British Columbia May 22, 2013. The Vancouver Canucks fired head coach Vigneault on Wednesday, along with assistants Rick Bowness and Newell Brown, following the National Hockey League team's first-round exit from the playoffs. (BEN NELMS/REUTERS)

Don Cherry says the wrong man has been removed from the Vancouver Canucks organization.

Hours after it was announced that head coach Alain Vigneault was fired, Cherry said Wednesday during the Coach’s Corner segment on “Hockey Night in Canada” that Vancouver’s general manager Mike Gillis is the reason for the team’s struggles and early exit from the post-season.

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“Three good guys thrown under the bus,” said Cherry, referring to Vigneault and fired assistants Rick Bowness and Newell Brown.

“As far as I’m concerned the general manager threw three good guys down the drain and that’s a shame. (Gillis’) fault all the way.”

Vigneault — the Canucks’ all-time leader in coaching wins — paid the price for the team’s early exit from the playoffs. Vancouver was eliminated in the first round in the last two seasons, including being swept by the San Jose Sharks this year, despite having home-ice advantage.

Cherry criticized Gillis and star players Daniel and Henrik Sedin for the Canucks’ poor performances in the playoffs. He also laid the blame for the goaltending controversy between Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo on Gillis.

“The Sedin twins, and I hate to say it, in the seven games that they played (during the 2011 Stanley Cup finals against Boston) they got two goals, they were minus. So far in the playoffs this year they have no goals. They were minus-12.

“He’s the guy that kept them around. He’s the guy, the general manager, who had the controversy with the goaltenders ... and three good guys go down the drain for him.

Vigneault led the Canucks to six Northwest Division titles, two Presidents’ Trophy titles and was awarded the 2007 Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s coach of the year.