Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Will promoting Yogi Švejkovský to assistant coach help the Canucks power play?

The Vancouver Canucks announced Wednesday that Yogi Švejkovský will be their new assistant coach, while Daniel and Henrik Sedin will be more involved in coaching.
Yogi Švejkovský will be stepping behind the Vancouver Canucks bench as their newest assistant coach.

A week ago, the Vancouver Canucks parted ways with assistant coach Mike Yeo. He's already been hired as an assistant coach by the Ottawa Senators, joining a couple of other former Canucks coaches: head coach Travis Green and defence coach Nolan Baumgartner. 

It goes to show that hockey's a fast-paced sport both on and off the ice.

Yeo's departure left an opening on the Canucks' coaching staff for an assistant coach and it didn't take them long to fill the position. The Canucks didn't need to search far and wide, as they felt the best candidate was already on staff: Jaroslav "Yogi" Švejkovský.

“After exploring all of our options, it became clear very quickly that the best candidate was already in our organization,” said general manager Patrik Allvin in a statement. “The ability to promote from within will help us in the transition, as Yogi and has a great understanding of our systems and the way we want to play."

The Canucks also announced that Daniel and Henrik Sedin would be taking on a larger coaching role saying they will be "more involved in the day-to-day coaching activities in both Vancouver and Abbotsford." The Sedins were ostensibly in a development role last season, which would mean primarily working with prospects, but they spent time on the ice with the Canucks at practices working one-on-one with certain players. Presumably, they will be picking up some of the slack in skills coaching as Švejkovský steps into his new job.

"Including the Sedins more in our day-to-day coaching duties will be hugely beneficial to our group both on and off the ice," said Allvin. "Both Daniel and Henrik bring a very unique perspective and competitive mindset to our staff.” 

The question is, how will this impact the Canucks in their biggest area of need on the coaching side of things: special teams? Yeo was the Canucks' penalty killing coach, while the team didn't have a devoted power play coach last season, something that seemed to hurt them down the stretch and in the playoffs, as they couldn't adapt quickly enough to how opposing penalty kills were shutting them down.

In theory, assistant coach Adam Foote, as the team's defence coach, would take on the penalty kill, something he was already helping with last season. Will Švejkovský coach the power play?

Švejkovský is well regarded in the Canucks organization as a skills coach, helping their players and prospects hone the techniques that could give them an edge on the ice. That means not only one-on-one coaching but also designing team-wide drills to help players develop skills like puckhandling, passing, and puck protection, but also more subtle skills like vision, deception, and optimal skating routes.

"Most of it is figuring out how to get that one percent better because the one percent makes a difference," said Švejkovský last year. "They have a foundation, and their foundation is strong, that’s how they got here. We respect that, but every one of them has to evolve with the game because the game is changing."

It's a role that Švejkovský is passionate about and something he's done for nearly two decades. Švejkovský was a dominant player in the WHL and AHL and played 113 games in the NHL until a concussion ended his playing career. After that, he came to Vancouver, working with the Vancouver Giants in the WHL as a skills coach from 2006 to 2018. Along the way, he worked with minor hockey organizations and became a head coach with the Delta Hockey Academy, helping the teenagers in that program develop their skills. 

Švejkovský joined the Canucks organization in 2021, starting with the Abbotsford Canucks in the AHL, then joining the NHL squad as the team's skills coach in 2022. Clearly, Švejkovský has put in the work to get himself to this point in his career, grinding his way up from the minors and academy hockey to a significant role on an NHL team. 

While Švejkovský is an excellent teacher and skills coach, being an assistant coach is another ball of wax, focused more on tactical concerns and systems play. The question for Švejkovský and the Canucks is how he will adapt to that new role and help the Canucks make improvements next year in key areas.

Will Švejkovský be taking on the power play? Will it still be a joint concern between head coach Rick Tocchet, part-time coach Sergei Gonchar, and the now more-involved Sedins? How will Švejkovský's promotion help the Canucks next season?

Given Švejkovský's decades of experience in the game, he's surely chock-full of ideas that he's never been able to implement in his highly-defined role as a skills coach. it will be intriguing to see how that plays out next season.

At the same time, one has to wonder why the Canucks didn't cast a wider net to try to find a power play specialist to add to their coaching staff.