Tuesday, April 08, 2014

In Vancouver, it's Mr. Gillis that is sent to the stage coach first


With their Stanley Cup dreams officially dashed on Monday evening and the singing of the crowd (such as it was by the time the game ended) still no doubt ringing in the ears of the Aquilini's, the Vancouver ownership made their first move towards the future on Tuesday.

Dismissing Mike Gillis as General Manager and setting in motion a day long festival of rumours, with many participants offering up their view as to what the new plan will be by the time that Francesco Aquilini  holds his press conference on Wednesday morning at 10:30 Vancouver time.

The Canucks an under-performing team in the second half of the NHL season, spiralled out of the playoff hunt it seems back in January. Destined now to play out the schedule through to the weekend, most likely with a wary eye as to what is going to happen next in the gong show that they have become in 2014.

Gillis became the first casualty of a horrid year, the the guy that renovated a team that came one win from a Stanley Cup championship just a few years ago, but now could not scrape their way into the last playoff position with the simple ability of a timely winning streak.

Handed over a team built by Brian Burke and Dave Nonis, the Canucks ruled the West in subsequent seasons, Rogers Arena a place where opposing teams once knew a hard night was at hand.

Through this year, the stopover in Vancouver for the most part had become an R and R port call, particularly for the juggernauts of California, where the playoff hockey will be a featured presentation through the spring.

The Mike Gillis era was one that provided for questionable trades, lengthy contracts and a Goaltenders soap opera that in the end sent both of the team's Blue chip goaltenders to different teams, both leaving with few tangible returns coming back to the Canucks.

Three moments this season provided the exclamation marks on the year, the John Tortorella meltdown with the Flames, that sent him to exile for an extended period of time and started the slide to irrelevance that the season became.  That obviously was not a Gillis issue, but one that the coach was solely responsible for.

The second key moment, the benching of Roberto Luongo in the much ballyhooed Heritage Classic, the first signal of the fans discontent raining down on the Canucks from the expanse of BC Place.

Whether that was a Gillis decision or a Tortorella one, the fans volume was the warning shot that this year was entering a dangerous phase.

The trade of Luongo to Florida only added to the pitch of the anger. Not so much that Luongo was gone, for most suspected it was coming, but more to the way that the whole mess had been handled and that was all on the Gillis watch.

The final mis-calculation if you will, when Gillis appeared on a Vancouver radio station and effectively threw his coach under the stage coach, seemingly daring the owners to make a decision, as to who would stay and who would go.

And while Mr. Tortorella may not yet be safe (though there are a few million reasons for him to have another season, all of them in Canadian currency) Mr. Gillis wasn't, terminated the day before the season ticket holders have to make their decision to renew.

The dismissal of Gillis a sacrifice to the Hockey Gods of British Columbia, the move on Tuesday an answer to the public relations disaster that Canucks hockey has become.

Where they go for 2014-15 perhaps will be explained more fully in the Wednesday morning Aquilini press conference, the consensus on a late Tuesday evening is that the first stage is the re-emergence of Trevor Linden into the Canucks corporate fold.

With any number of roles being suggested as where Linden will be slotted into the rebranding exercise.

As for the product on the ice, no trade contracts, lengthy contract lengths and a coach who just signed on all will greet whomever the Canucks decide on to take over the pivotal role of General Manager.

The Gillis blue print was one that had to be approved by the owners, it was a foundation plan that clearly has now left the Canucks in a huge bind.  The first job of the next aspirant to the job will be to rebuild, a challenging job to begin with, let alone with the number of land mines left from the old regime to deal with.

There are many unanswered questions of this season.

The Tortorella hiring, while a burst of energy in September, has proven to be a puzzling fit for the team he was given. One imagines if he's to remain as coach, the players that fit his style will have to be brought in.

The inability of Gillis to get much value out of the majority of his trades and his botched handling of the two top goaltenders all leave the impression of the sense that perhaps the owners may have been offering too much interference for a shot at the Stanley Cup.

All are issues that need to be addressed, things that any prospective GM's will no doubt be giving much thought towards.

How the Aquilini's are going to sell their vision to any would be GM is going to be key to the future for their investment, tis a mess, but the owners have no one to blame but themselves.

Accountability has been in short supply in Vancouver all year, players, coaches, General Managers and  most importantly owners. The time for someone to step up and say this is on me has arrived in Vancouver.

Over to you Mr. Aquilini.

Vancouver Sun-- Canucks fire President and GM Mike Gillis
Vancouver Sun-- Mike Gillis made some major moves for Canucks
Vancouver Sun-- It's time for Trevor Linden to come in from the cold
Vancouver Sun-- Trevor Linden, Bob Nicholson top candidates to head Canucks
Vancouver Province-- This is now on the Aquilinis
Vancouver Province-- Canucks owners had to stop the bleeding by firing Gillis, experts say
Vancouver Province-- Naslund could be coming back to Vancouver
Vancouver Province-- Trevor Linden likely a Canuck again
Vancouver Province-- Tortorella plugs his ears and soldiers on
Vancouver Province-- The mob howls and Gillis is lynched
Vancouver Province-- Feaster's famine: Torts' buddy hungry to get back into GM's role
Vancouver Province-- Linden-as-president would have cachet in this market, but Linden keeping Tortorella here would keep this disaster rolling
Georgia Straight-- Vancouver Canucks fire president and GM Mike Gillis
24 Hours Vancouver-- Canucks fans got their wish with Mike Gillis firing
24 Hours Vancouver-- Canucks fire president and GM Mike Gillis, rumoured to be bringing in Trevor Linden
National Post-- Mike Gillis fired as Vancouver Canucks GM after team eliminated from playoff contention
Globe and Mail-- Canucks dump Gillis after six years at the helm
Gobe and Mail-- Why Mike Gillis deserved to be fired
Sportsnet-- Vancouver Canucks fire GM Gillis
Sportsnet-- Canucks ownership needs to step aside
TSN-- Canucks relieve Gillis of President and GM duties
CBC-- Mike Gillis deserved to be fired after Canucks imploded
CBC-- Canucks fire General Manager Mike Gillis

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