Finally the Vancouver Canucks made a good decision by firing Mike Gillis. Anyone that says Gillis turned the Canucks into a contender after the firing of Dave Nonis has no idea how bad this guy was as GM.
In his first season as GM in 2008-09, Gillis got one solid draft pick in Cody Hodgson, but where is he now? He signed Pavol Demitra which was a good addition and also signed Mats Sundin at $8.6m and he only played half a season in Vancouver. I will give Gillis kudos for signing David Backes to a 3-year offer sheet that unfortunately the St. Louis Blues matched. The team won the division after missing the playoffs but were ousted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round.
The 2009-10 Mathieu Schneider and Mikael Samuelsson and drafting Jordan Schroeder and Kevin Connauton. But the claim to fame in this season was re-signing Roberto Luongo to a 12 year extension! The Sedins were signed to extensions this season as well and Samuelsson turned out to be a good signing with a career high 30 goals. Ryan Kesler was also signed to an extension for 6 years/$30 million.
The 2010-11 season started with getting absolutely nothing in the draft as the highest player taken was 115th overall and his name was Patrick McNally. Who? Exactly. After all the extensions and signings and giving up draft picks, the Canucks were to make a run. Did Gillis really architect this team or were most of the pieces just in place and he just signed them to longer more expensive extensions? As it turns out the Canucks made the Stanley Cup final but couldn’t close out against the Boston Bruins.
In 2011-12, his fourth season as GM, Gillis was starting to feel the pressure of not winning. But coming so close. Personally I think he took the pressure to hard and pushed the team into a downward spiral at this point even though the Canucks won their second consecutive President’s Trophy. Gillis biggest mistake was trading the best player he ever drafted in Cody Hodsgon to the Buffalo Sabres for basically Zack Kassian. Might have looked good on paper at this point as Vancouver to get bigger and Hodgson was having trouble staying healthy. We all know how it turned out though. The Canucks lost in the first round of the playoffs and big changes were warranted or heads would roll!
The 2012-13 season brought another couple of extensions from Gillis. Alex Burrows signed for 4 years/$18 million and Alex Edler signed for 6 years/$30 million. Another two players that basically all Gillis did was re-sign and give too much money to. The team struggled and Alain Vigneault lost his job, although Gillis should have been the one that got canned. Ryan Kesler and David Booth were both injured for most of the season. The goaltending controversy between Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider was a massive soap opera. Derek Roy another super signing by Gillis was invisible in the playoffs.
Then he trades Cory Schneider in the off-season at the draft and turns around and trades Roberto Luongo as well? Talk about pushing the panic button. The Canucks go from having probably the best goalie tandem and deepest depth at the position to starting Eddie Lack! In the end Gillis didn’t have enough patience to handle the GM duties in a hockey mad city where losing the Stanley Cup means torching police cars. Maybe he was honestly fearing for his life and pushed the panic button. Or maybe he was basically just a person re-signing players that were already put in place without replenishing the cupboards with young talent.
The Canucks have a long way to go and maybe with Trevor Linden, Mr. Canuck coming in at the helm the ship will be pointed in the right direction.
Remember to follow your passion.