VANCOUVER – Roland Melanson’s track record of developing young netminders and his ability to work full-time factored in the Vancouver Canucks decision to hire him as the NHL team’s goaltending coach.
“We feel we have one of the top goaltender tandems in the NHL,” Laurence Gilman, Vancouver’s assistant general manager, said Tuesday. “We felt it was important at this junction to have a goaltending coach who was with us full-time.”
Melanson will replace Ian Clark, who spent the last eight years working as a part-time consultant for the Canucks.
Clark, who lives in Dallas, was unable to relocate full-time to Vancouver for personal reasons, Gilman said.
The Canucks signed former first-round draft pick Cory Schneider to a two-year, US$1.8 million contract earlier this month. The plan is to play Schneider in 20 or more games this year, reducing the workload of starting goaltender Roberto Luongo.
“We feel Cory is the best goaltender currently not playing in the NHL,” said Gilman. “Roland will work with him on his game and bring him along up to the pro level.
“At the same time he will work with Roberto. He (Melanson) has worked with some extremely skilled goaltenders during his tenure. We think Roberto will benefit from his tutelage as well.”
Melanson, 49, served as an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens from 1997 to 2009. During that time he helped with the development of goaltenders like Joe Theodore, Jocelyn Thibault, Jaroslav Halak, Cristobal Huet and Carey Price.
Bringing Melanson to Vancouver also reunites him with Canuck head coach Alain Vigneault, who coached the Canadiens from 1997 to 2000.
Luongo, who begins a 12-year, US$64-million contract this season, had a good working relationship with Clark.
Gilman said Vigneault has talked to Luongo about hiring Melanson.
“He knows the decision was made and understands why the decision was made,” Gilman said.
Melanson was an assistant coach and goaltending coach with the QMJHL Moncton Wildcats from 1995 to 1997.
The native of Moncton, N.B., spent 11 seasons playing in the NHL with the New York Islanders, Minnesota North Stars, Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils and Montreal. He won three Stanley Cups with the Islanders between 1981 and 1983.
Along with Billy Smith, Melanson won the William M. Jennings Trophy in the 1982–83 season. The trophy is awarded to the goaltenders playing for the team with the fewest goals against.
In 291 regular season games he had a record of 129-106-33, six shutouts and a goals-against average of 3.63.