Canucks fire coach Willie Desjardins after last-place finish

VANCOUVER -- The Canucks have fired head coach Willie Desjardins.

The Canucks missed the playoffs for a second straight season, finishing with 69 points -- only better than the Colorado Avalanche in the NHL. They lost their last eight games to fall behind the Arizona Coyotes into last place in the Pacific Division.

Assistant coaches Doug Lidster and Perry Pearn were also let go.

"We made a very difficult decision to relieve Willie Desjardins of his duties as head coach today," general manager Jim Benning said. "It's been a challenging season and we all share responsibility for the results; however, we felt this change was necessary as we continue to develop a young team and look ahead to the future. We're grateful to Willie, Doug, Perry and each of their families for their dedication and hard work and wish them every success."

Desjardins, 60, was hired three years ago and led the Canucks to a first-round playoff appearance in 2014-15. The Canucks are in rebuilding mode, transitioning the roster to younger players this season in hopes of soon being competitive again.

"He's a great person who has great character," president of hockey operations Trevor Linden said at a news conference later Monday. "Our decision was based on just needing to make a change.

"There was a feeling between [Benning] and I there was some areas we can improve."

That means they might have a decision to make on twin stars Henrik and Daniel Sedin, long the faces of the franchise.

Vancouver started out fast, becoming the first NHL team ever to win its first three games of a season while never leading in regulation. The Canucks added a fourth straight win to start the season, but then collapsed with a nine-game losing streak (0-8-1). Vancouver fought back into the playoff race around midseason, but cratered again down the stretch, going 7-23-3 over its final 33 games.

The Canucks finished 30-43-9 overall.

"We're all in this, for sure. This is on us," Linden said of the responsibility the front office bears for the team's on-ice woes. "At the same time, we think there are some things we can do better."

The Canucks' power play and penalty kill were disastrous, ranked 29th and tied for 28th, respectively.

The team stumbled to a 31-38-13 record last season, good for just 75 points and a 28th-place finish, and this season was even worse.

Desjardins replaced John Tortorella after his one tumultuous season in 2013-14, when Vancouver missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.