On June 17, Willie Desjardins coached the AHL Texas Stars to the 2014 Calder Cup championship. The next day, both the Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins asked for permission to speak to Desjardins about their head coaching vacancies.
NHL.com covered the sequence of events. Desjardins reportedly had a phone interview with the Penguins on Thursday, then flew to Pittsburgh for a face-to-face interview. On Thursday afternoon, new Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford told Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "The process is coming to an end. I'm still checking a few points with the lead candidate, but a decision is coming real soon."
It didn't take long for everything to change. On Friday morning, Desjardins headed for Vancouver. On Saturday, Rutherford announced that he was restarting his search. On Monday, Desjardins was introduced as the new coach of the Vancouver Canucks.
Why It's Surprising
Desjardins had been assumed to be a lead candidate in Vancouver throughout his Calder Cup run, per The Globe and Mail, but the road to his destiny was a twisty one.
After missing out on candidate Bill Peters, who chose to sign with the Carolina Hurricanes, the Penguins mounted a full-court press to land Desjardins as quickly as possible, with rumors swirling of his imminent hiring just two days after his Calder Cup win in Newfoundland.
Equally surprising after that point was the change in course—that Desjardins spurned a chance to coach Sidney Crosby and the Penguins to take over a dysfunctional situation in Vancouver.
After being rejected by Desjardins, Jim Rutherford announced on June 25 that Mike Johnston of the WHL Portland Winterhawks—a former Canucks associate coach—would become the Penguins' new bench boss.