Canucks sever ties with GM Gillis
With the 2013-2014 season coming to a close, so ends the tenure of Mike Gillis as president and general manager of the Vancouver Canucks. The moves comes not even 24 hours after the team suffered a 3-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, thus officially ending any and all slim hopes of a playoff birth.
“On behalf of my entire family, I would like to sincerely thank Mike Gillis for his hard work and the many contributions he made on and off the ice during his tenure. The Vancouver Canucks had success under Mike’s leadership, and we nearly reached our ultimate goal; but I believe we have reached a point where a change in leadership and new voice is needed. I also want to thank our fans for their support for the Vancouver Canucks through a difficult and frustrating season. We haven’t met their expectations or ours. We are committed to bringing the Stanley Cup to Vancouver for our fans and we will continue to do everything possible to reach that goal.”
Francesco Aquilini, Chairman, Canucks Sports and Entertainment
Three years ago during the summer of 2011, the Canucks came one game short of hoisting Lord Stanley, before losing to the Boston Bruins in Game 7. During the offseason, Gillis was named GM of the Year; however a lot can change in three years as the Canucks were eliminated in the First Round of the next two Stanley Cup Playoffs, costing head coach Alain Vigneault his job. Then after a disappointing year under new head coach John Tortorella, which saw the trading away of Roberto Louongo, Gillis’ term has now ended.
Despite having a talented team, under Vigneault the team never was able to truly make it over the hump to take that “next step” that teams must do to reach the Stanley Cup Finals on a consistent level. Gillis, who was hired in 2008, didn’t have the greatest success when it came to the Draft either. While Cody Hodgsen turned out to be a solid center, Gillis moved him to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for hard hitting winger Zack Kassian. 2009 1st round pick Jordan Schroeder has bounced back and forth between the NHL and AHL with both the Manitoba Moose and Chicago Wolves, and Nicklas Jensen has been the one bright spot, but has yet to really find his way into the Canucks’ lineup. The 2010 1st round pick was traded to the Florida Panthers along with Michael Grabner in exchange for Keith Ballard, and picks like Cameron Gaunce and Bo Horvat remain to be seen as to how good they’re going to be.
During the press conference, Aquilini did thank Gillis for his hard work and all the things he did for the organization, but felt that the team needed different leadership. It’s not that Gillis didn’t do a good job, he just didn’t prepare for the future. The Sedin’s are getting older, Ryan Kessler is an Unrestricted Free Agent in the offseason, and the trading of both Roberto Louongo and Corey Schneider, the heir apparent to Martin Brodeur’s crease, has left the door open for youngsters Eddie Lack and Jakub Markstrom. The farm is depleted when it comes to prospects in the system with only Jensen and Horvat being anything viable and 2013 pick Hunter Shinkaruk could turn into the next Patrick Kane, but both Horvat and Shinkaruk are two-three years away from cracking the NHL.
The big question now is what’s next for Vancouver? Obviously they need to find a new General Manager, but the next obvious move is to decide whether or not said general manager wants to continue with head coach John Tortorella, who’s rough and tumble style of play just doesn’t seem to fit with the speed of Henrik and Daniel Sedin. Mike Gillis did great in his first three seasons as Canucks general manager, but the former Boston Bruins winger fell from grace, but again, like Rome, Vancouver wasn’t built in a day.