During his career with the Canucks, Alain won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's top coach of the year in 2006–07 and has become the team's record holder for wins as a coach. With Vancouver, he won back-to-back Presidents' Trophies (2010–11 and 2011–12) and made one Stanley Cup Finals appearance (2011).
In his first season with New York, Alain led the Rangers to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance (in 2014) in 20 years. Prior to his coaching career, he played professionally as a defenceman for six seasons in the NHL, the Central Hockey League and the American Hockey League (AHL).
In the NHL, he played 42 games over two seasons (1981–82 and 1982–83) for the St. Louis Blues.
Alain played as a defenceman in the QMJHL for four seasons, beginning in 1977–78 with the Hull Olympiques. He recorded 11 goals and 46 points over 59 games as a rookie before improving to 13 goals and 54 points over 72 games to rank fifth in team scoring the following season.
In his third QMJHL season, Alain was traded from Hull to the Trois Rivieres Draveurs. Between the two teams, he accumulated a junior career-high 64 points (11 goals and 53 assists) over 63 games.
The following season (his fourth and final in the QMJHL), Alain tallied seven goals and 62 points over 67 games before adding four goals and ten points in 19 playoff games. His efforts helped the Draveurs to the QMJHL Finals where they were defeated four-games-to-one by the Cornwall Royals.
Following his QMJHL career, Alain was selected in the eighth round (167th overall) by the St. Louis Blues in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. He joined the Blues organization during the 1981-82 season where he appeared in 14 games for the club; tallying 1 goal and 2 assists.
The remainder of Alain's rookie season was spent in the minor league with the Blues' Central Hockey League (CHL) affiliate, the Salt Lake Golden Eagles.
He was called up to the Blues again the following season where he recorded a goal and three assists in 28 regular season appearances as well as one assist in four in the playoffs games while splitting time with the Eagles.
The 1983 playoffs were Alain's final appearances as a player in the NHL as he finished his career the following season splitting time between the Maine Mariners of the AHL and the Montana Magic in the CHL.
QMJHL and Ottawa SenatorsEdit
Alain began his coaching career at the age of 25 in 1986–87, one season after his retirement as a player.
He began in the QMJHL, coaching one season for the Trois-Rivières Draveurs and five for the Hull Olympiques, the same two teams he played junior hockey for. He also coached the Olympiques to personal QMJHL regular season bests in 1987–88 with a 43–23–4 record and a playoff championship.
In the 1992–93 season, Alain got his first break in the NHL as an assistant coach with the expansion Ottawa Senators.
After three-and-a-half years in that position, the Senators' assistant coaches were dismissed during the 1995–96 season and he returned to the QMJHL to coach the Beauport Harfangs. He led the team to his second QMJHL Finals appearance where they were defeated by the Granby Prédateurs.
After a full season with the Harfangs in 1996–97, Alain began his second stint in the NHL and his first as a head coach, with the Montreal Canadiens and became the 20th coach in the history of the Original Six team, he replaced Mario Tremblay.
After winning the Stanley Cup in 1993, the team had not advanced past the second round of the playoffs in the four years since.
In his first season with the Canadiens, Alain coached the team to a regular season record of 37 wins, 32 losses and 13 ties to rank fourth in the Northeast Division. Then they advanced to the second round with a four-games-to-two series victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, before being swept in four games by the Buffalo Sabres.
The following season, however, the Canadiens failed to make the playoffs with a 32–39–11 record.
During his third season with the Canadiens in 1999–2000, Alain returned to above-.500, despite numerous long-term injuries to key players, just narrowly missing a post-season berth.
For his efforts, despite his team failing to make the playoffs for a second-straight year, he was nominated for the Jack Adams Award as the League's coach of the year, ultimately losing the award to Joel Quenneville of the St. Louis Blues.
After the Canadiens continued to struggle the following season, Alain was fired midway through the campaign and replaced by Michel Therrien.
Following his tenure with the Canadiens, Alain spent two-and-a-half years inactive as a coach.
In 2003–04, he was hired to coach the Prince Edward Island Rocket. During that season, he coached them to a 40–19–5 record and a second-round appearance in the playoffs.
After another season with the Rocket (in which the team finished out of the playoffs), Alain was hired by the Vancouver Canucks organization to coach their minor-league affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, of the American Hockey League (AHL).
Following a successful season in Manitoba (in which the Moose earned 100 points and reached the second round of the playoffs), Alain was chosen to replace Marc Crawford as the Canucks' head coach ahead of the 2006–07 season.
The Canucks had failed to qualify for the playoffs in Crawford's last season with the club and were seen to have underperformed after being considered Stanley Cup contenders after the 2004-05 NHL lockout.
In replacing Crawford, who was the Canucks' record holder for all-time wins by a coach, Vigneault became the 16th coach in team history.
While Crawford was known for coaching the team under an offence-first mentality, Alain had a defensive-minded reputation at the time of his hiring.
In addition to letting Crawford go, General Manager Dave Nonis retooled the team considerably.
In his first season as head coach of the Canucks, Alain coached them to a franchise record 49 wins, eclipsing the 46-win season recorded under Pat Quinn in 1992–93. The team won the regular season Northwest Division title before being eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the Anaheim Ducks.
As a result, Alain received his second Jack Adams Award nomination and beat out Lindy Ruff of the Buffalo Sabres and Michel Therrien of the Pittsburgh Penguins in voting to win the coach of the year on June 14, 2007.
The following season, however, the Canucks failed to qualify for the playoffs and GM Dave Nonis was fired.
After Nonis' successor, Mike Gillis, was brought in, it was speculated whether or not he would retain Alain.
After several meetings with Gillis, Alain was re-signed to a one-year contract extension to keep him in Vancouver to the 2009–10 season. His assistant coaches Barry Smith and Mike Kelly (inherited from Crawford's coaching staff) were both fired.
With the departure of captain Markus Naslund in the 2008 off-season, Alain and team management controversially selected Roberto Luongo as the Canucks' new captain, despite NHL rules forbidding goaltenders to be chosen for the position.
Luongo became the first goaltender to captain an NHL team in 60 years, though he was not permitted to wear the captain's "C" on his jersey, nor was he permitted to perform the traditional on-ice duties of a captain in the NHL (such as speaking to the referees on behalf of the coach).
Under new leadership and management, Alain and the Canucks returned to the post-season and won their second Northwest Division title in three years. They were once again defeated in the second round, however; this time by the Chicago Blackhawks.
About to enter the final year of his contract in 2009–10, Alain was signed to a three-year extension in September of 2009. The Canucks matched their franchise-best 49 wins from his first season and repeated as Northwest Division champions. Though for a second consecutive year, they were eliminated by the Blackhawks in the second round.
After finishing near the top of their conference for the majority of Alain's tenure with the team up to the 2009–10 season, the Canucks won their first-ever Presidents' Trophy as the league's best regular season team after a franchise year of 54 wins and 117 points.
They advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1994, but lost the championship in seven games to the Boston Bruins.
Alain earned his third nomination for the Jack Adams Award in 2011, but he lost to Dan Bylsma of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The following year, the Canucks repeated as Presidents' Trophy champions.
During the season, Alain became the most winning coach in Canucks' history with his 247th victory with the team, a 3–0 shutout against the Colorado Avalanche on November 23, 2011. At 427 games, it took him 97 fewer contests than his predecessor, Crawford, to set the mark.
Though the league's best regular season team once more in 2011–12, the Canucks were eliminated from the playoffs in the opening round of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, losing to the eighth-seeded (and eventual Stanley Cup champion) Los Angeles Kings in five games.
During the 2013 playoffs, the Canucks were swept in the first round by the San Jose Sharks.
After the loss, many Vancouver fans voiced the need for a major change among the Canucks coaching staff, mainly Alain. After many rumors and much speculation, he was fired by the Canucks on May 22, 2013.
New York RangersEdit
On June 21, 2013, the New York Rangers hired Alain to be their 35th head coach, replacing John Tortorella, who coincidentally was hired as his replacement in Vancouver. He signed a five-year, $10 million contract.
The Rangers initially struggled in the first half of the 2013–14 campaign, but they finished very strong. The Rangers finished second in the Metropolitan Division, qualifying for the post-season and making it to the team's first Stanley Cup Final since they defeated the Vancouver Canucks in the 1993–94 season. However, the team lost to the Los Angeles Kings in five games in the Final.
Ironically, the Canucks, who hired former Rangers coach Tortorella to replace Alain, failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in six years.
In 2014-15 (Alain's second with the team), the Rangers set a franchise record with 113 points in the regular season, winning the NHL's President's Trophy for the first time since the 1993-94 season.
In the first round, the Rangers knocked out the Pittsburgh Penguins in five games, winning the fifth and clinching game on an overtime winner from Carl Hagelin. It was the earliest Sidney Crosby and the Penguins had been eliminated from the playoffs since his sophomore season in 2006-07.
In the semi-finals the Rangers found themselves facing a familiar foe in Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, the fifth meeting between the two franchises since 2009 (each team had won two).
The Rangers fell behind 3-1 in the series and were down 1-0 in game five, a mere 101 seconds from elimination before Chris Kreider broke the shutout.
In overtime, team captain Ryan McDonagh scored the game winner to send the series back to Washington.
In game six, Kreider once again sparked the team, scoring in the first minute and final second of the first period as the Rangers withstood a late rally by the Capitals to win 4-3 and force a game 7 at Madison Square Garden.
Anticipation was extremely high for this game as prices for a seat reached record prices. Ovechkin opened the scoring on a high glove wrister in the first period, but Rangers' rookie Kevin Hayes evened the score on the power play.
In the first game 7 overtime at Madison Square Garden since 1994, Derek Stepan scored the winning goal to send the team onto Tampa Bay for their second straight trip to the conference finals and third in four years.
|1981–82||St. Louis Blues||NHL||14||1||2||3||43||—||—||—||—||—|
|1981–82||Salt Lake Golden Eagles||CHL||64||2||10||12||266||7||1||1||2||37|
|1982–83||St. Louis Blues||NHL||28||1||3||4||39||4||0||1||1||26|
|1982–83||Salt Lake Golden Eagles||CHL||33||1||4||5||189||—||—||—||—||—|
NHL Coaching RecordEdit
|MTL||1997-98||82||37||32||13||—||87||4th in Northeast||Lost in Conference Semifinals (BUF)|
|MTL||1998-99||82||32||39||11||—||75||5th in Northeast||Missed playoffs|
|MTL||1999-00||82||35||34||9||4||83||4th in Northeast||Missed playoffs|
|VAN||2006–07||82||49||26||—||7||105||1st in Northwest||Lost in Conference Semifinals (ANA)|
|VAN||2007–08||82||39||33||—||10||88||5th in Northwest||Missed playoffs|
|VAN||2008–09||82||45||27||—||10||100||1st in Northwest||Lost in Conference Semifinals (CHI)|
|VAN||2009–10||82||49||28||—||5||103||1st in Northwest||Lost in Conference Semifinals (CHI)|
|VAN||2010–11||82||54||19||—||9||117||1st in Northwest||Lost in Stanley Cup Finals (BOS)|
|VAN||2011–12||82||51||22||—||9||111||1st in Northwest||Lost in Conference Quarterfinals (LA)|
|VAN||2012–13||48||26||15||—||7||59||1st in Northwest||Lost in Conference Quarterfinals (SJ)|
|NYR||2013–14||82||45||31||—||6||96||2nd in Metropolitan||Lost in Stanley Cup Finals (LA)|
|NYR||2014–15||82||53||22||—||7||113||1st in Metropolitan||Lost in Conference Finals (TB)|
|NYR||2015–16||82||46||27||—||9||101||3rd in Metropolitan||Lost in Conference Quarterfinals (PIT)|
- Brian Kilrea Coach of the Year Award (QMJHL): 1988
- Jack Adams Award winner (NHL coach of the year): 2007 (finalist in 2000, 2011 and 2015)
- Named a co-coach for the 58th NHL All-Star Game: 2011
- Vancouver Canucks all-time winningest coach: 313
During the off-season, Alain lives in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. He is divorced and has two daughters, Andreane and Janie.
When he coached the Canucks, he could often be found on game days jogging around Vancouver's Stanley Park.
Alain is known by the Vancouver media for his sense of humour and for his resemblance to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.