From GM of the Year to ‘moron’ in one season; what’s the deal with Mike Gillis?

If I were David Poile, Doug Armstrong, or Dale Tallon, this year’s nominees for GM of the Year, I’d be praying that the award goes to someone else. All you have to do is take one look at the season Mike Gillis has had to suspect that, maybe, the NHL General Manager of the Year award is cursed.

Gillis deserved the award after 2010-11 but, since winning it, nothing has gone right for him. He couldn’t sell Christian Ehrhoff on taking a haircut and forgoing free agency. All he could rustle up on July 1 was a clunky old Marco Sturm, hockey’s equivalent of snagging a boot while fishing. Six games into Sturm’s tenure, he was moved to Florida along with Mikael Samuelsson for David Booth, who underwhelmed. Samme Pahlsson, acquired at the trade deadline, earned praise during the regular season, then withered in an arduous, 5-game postseason.

But Gillis’s worst move on the surface — the one that really hurt his approval rating — was the Cody Hodgson trade. Not only did many, many fans fall out of love with Gillis over this one, which yielded no immediate payoffs, but on Monday, Gary Roberts, trainer to the young stars, called the Canucks’ GM a moron and a dud.

Last year, it was all accolades for Gillis. This year, the Quinoa King of the East is calling him names. What the Hell happened?

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Video: I Want a Girl Like Trevor Linden

Normally, when we feature videos on Pass it to Bulis, they are made by other people. Not this one. This is a PITB original. I should clarify: Harrison might want to avoid all association with this video, because it contains a very silly song and Harrison is a very serious person. Not me: I revel in silliness.

You see, when I’m not writing about hockey, I often write comic book-inspired songs under the name Hooray for Gooba about evil twins, dinosaur fighters in space, big-headed supervillains, and time travel shenanigans. This weekend, however, I wrote a different type of song. A love song. A Trevor Linden love song.

And now I want to share it with all of you.

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Pass it to Comics: Burrows and Keith work things out

Pass it to Comics is a regular collaboration between PITB and cartoonist Chloe Ezra, whose Tumblr page, Blue Soup, is a must-follow for any Canuck fan with an appreciation for quirk. Today, Alex Burrows and Duncan Keith get used to playing together.

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The top 10 bloopers of the Canucks’ 2011-12 season

Some hockey games yield great stories, heroes, big goals, and clutch plays. This post is not about those games. This post celebrates weirdness, a quality of which the 87 games of the Vancouver Canucks’ 2011-12 season (and playoffs) had in spades. In fact, there were enough odd little moments this year for us to create a list of our favourite 10 bloopers of the 2011-12 season. What follows is a countdown of the funniest, oddest, and most unexpected stuff that happened on the ice during those 87 games.

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Amazing Fan Video: Watch Roberto Luongo tribute ‘Live Forever’ and get all emotional and stuff

For my money, the relationship between Roberto Luongo and the city of Vancouver has never been healthy. When you stop and think about it, it’s always sort of seemed like two people headed for a failed marriage.

First, there were the initial stages, when the City was over the moon for the guy, maybe even infatuated in an unhealthy way. We’d never been treated this well by anyone. That warped into a panic that he was too good for us and he might realize it and leave, which caused us to clamour for a promise, a marriage we weren’t quite ready for, a contract lasting forever. Not long after we got it, our fickle, immature hearts turned once again, and we realized how long “forever” truly was. Suddenly the whole thing soured, as we settled into routine. Then came the hardships, as the rigours of marriage (in this case, the Chicago Blackhawks) made him look human. Suddenly, the infatuation was lost, and that thrilling fear that he might leave us was replaced by a dull wish that he would. (How did New Jersey make it look so easy? Marriage is hard.)

Then someone new came along, and we felt that initial rush of excitement and infatuation for the first time in years. We wanted out, but we felt guilty asking, so we treated the guy like dirt in the hopes that he would suggest we end it. Then he did, and as we realized a major point in our lives was coming to an abrupt end, we began to re-examine the whole relationship, and suddenly found the lost memories of when we loved him the way we love the new suitor now. We couldn’t help but look back and wistfully reminisce about how it used to be.

It looks to me like Canuck nation has arrived at that final stage, the outpouring of all that lost emotion. As we approach the seeming end of Luongo’s tenure in Vancouver, I’d expect many more touching Roberto Luongo tributes like this one, titled “Live Forever”.

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Drance Numbers: Did the Canucks really change after the Boston game?

There were plenty of interesting statements in Mike Gillis’s epic season wrapup press conference Tuesday morning, but one of the most jarring came in response to the very first question posed to him by the press. To kick things off, David Ebner of The Globe & Mail asked Gillis when the “issues” that ultimately led to the Canucks’ early exit first began to surface.

As a disciple of the extremist “Church of Hockey Math” (trademark, Blake Price), I’m always skeptical of a statement that lends this much power to an “intangible” force like “collective team emotion.” It’s a pretty dubious claim when you stop to think about it: a veteran team, one of the league’s best over the past two seasons, saw their season derailed by a regular-season win in early January?

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Video: The Vancouver Wellwoods at the national street hockey championships in Victoria

If you follow this blog with any regularity, you know about the Wellwoods, PITB’s official women’s road hockey team. Back in February, we helped them to find two sponsors to pay for a jersey upgrade — BC Diabetes, an organization dedicated to providing no-cost treatment to diabetics, and Ken Johnson, a nice young man and cat owner just looking for his soulmate.

But soliciting for money to buy clothes isn’t all the Wellwoods do. They also play street hockey, and back in October, they headed to Victoria for the 3rd annual HNIC Play On! street hockey national championships. The ladies have been involved in the tournament since its inception three years ago, finishing 4th in year one and 2nd in year two. Like the Canucks, they came into 2011 hoping to get back to the finals and achieve a better result. Could they do it?

No. They finished 4th. (We’re still proud of them, though.) However, they did take a step forward this year in terms of documenting the experience. Last year, Captain Morgan Tierney journaled the tournament for us. This year, the Wellwoods made a video. This is that video.

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Alex Burrows to join Duncan Keith on Team Canada for the 2012 World Championship

The thirteenth and final forward for Canada’s entry in the 2012 World Championships is reportedly Alex Burrows of the Vancouver Canucks.

Burrows has represented his country on the international stage before, but in ball hockey. He competed in the 2003 and 2005 ball hockey World Championships, leading Team Canada to gold each time. Being named to Team Canada in ice hockey is yet another chapter in Burrows’ incredible success story.

This time around, he likely won’t be playing as integral an offensive role, however, as the team already boasts talent like Corey Perry, John Tavares, Jeff Skinner, Patrick Sharp, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle. Burrows’ skill on the penalty kill and defensive acumen likely played into the decision to add him to the roster (or maybe just the fact that he said yes).

There may be a bit of awkwardness in the locker room, though: Duncan Keith is one of the defencemen heading to Finland and Sweden for the two week tournament.

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I Find This Photo Odd: Jannik Hansen in a beanbag chair

Here’s a photo of Jannik Hansen from the Canucks’ first-round series with the Kings. I’m not entirely sure what’s going on in it. It looks like, maybe, Hansen collided with Rob Scuderi along the boards and the two went down.

But it also sort of looks like Hansen convinced Scuderi to let himself be used as a beanbag chair. The LA defender’s nickname is “The Piece”. Maybe that’s only half of it, and the second half is “Of rumpus room furniture”?

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The continuing adventures of Roberto Luongo’s super-secret suspected Twitter account

April has been a rough month for Roberto Luongo. On the 5th, he was pulled in favour of Cory Schneider in a game versus the Anaheim Ducks, and the Rogers Arena fans jeered him as he left the crease. In the playoffs, he was one of the Canucks’ best players in their first two games and for this, he was replaced by Schneider once again, never getting back into the goal.

Then, he watched from the bench as the Canucks were eventually eliminated in just 5 games, leading to a long offseason full of speculation, much of which will be focused on him. Has he tended goal in Vancouver for the last time? This week, he admitted he would waive his no-trade clause if asked, then a report surfaced that he had asked to be asked, so… perhaps. It’s an unstable time for the man either way.

But, if there’s one thing about Luongo that remains a constant, it’s that his super-secret suspected Twitter account will remain one of the best things on the Internet.

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One lingering concern about keeping Cory Schneider

Just three days ago, Roberto Luongo indicated that he would be willing to waive his no trade clause, if he was asked to. I thought this was a mature, magnanimous response that was a further indication of his professionalism, but didn’t think much else would come of it. It was good to know that he wouldn’t hold the team hostage if they found the right deal, but to me it didn’t mean all that much.

It didn’t mean that Gillis had asked him to waive his no trade clause, nor did it mean that Gillis would ask him to do so. I certainly didn’t think it meant that Luongo himself would ask for a trade.

According to reports, however, that’s exactly what he did. Nick Kypreos reported that Luongo said in his exit meeting that he wanted out, while James Duthie and Dan Murphy started tweeting teams that were on Luongo’s list of eligible bachelors. It was a startling revelation that Mike Gillis denied, albeit weakly. So, unless the reports are erroneous or some sort of ploy, it seems that we already have the answer as to which of the Canucks’ two very good goaltenders will be traded.

But I have to admit that I do have one big concern about keeping Cory Schneider rather than Luongo. The issue is fairly simple: there have been a lot of young goaltenders in the NHL that have experienced tremendous success in their first full season in the league, then faltered badly afterwards.

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Seven more amazing Ryan Kesler tumbleweed gifs

The Canucks’ 2012 Stanley Cup run may have ended after only 5 games, but the Ryan Kesler tumbleweed meme is still going strong. If you’re unfamiliar with it, here’s what you need to know: in Game 1 of the Canucks’ series with the Los Angeles Kings, Kesler perpetrated perhaps the greatest dive of the post-lockout era. He fell to the ice, he flailed, he lost his stick, and he bounced lightly like a tumbleweed. It was amazing.

The photoshop wizards over at the HF Boards latched onto Kesler’s ever-so-slightly embellished tumble in a big way, splicing him into all sorts of scenes. We featured our six favourites about a week ago, but the guys have clearly yet to run out of ideas. With that in mind, we thought it only right to put together a second gallery. Enjoy.

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According to reports, Roberto Luongo requested a trade; why did we hear about it?

Earlier this week, I argued that Roberto Luongo’s professed willingness to waive his no-trade clause if asked didn’t mean what we thought it meant. No, it wasn’t Luongo requesting a trade. It was simply Luongo admitting that he wouldn’t stand in the way if GM Mike Gillis purposed to move him. The decision remained in Gillis’s hands.

That take reached obsolescence in less than 48 hours. According to reports, Luongo has requested a trade after all.

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Country fight: Canucks fan Chad Brownlee responds to Oilers fan Brett Kissel’s apology song

Here’s the very true story of how Chad Brownlee, former Vancouver Canucks draft pick, became a country artist: shortly after being selected 190th overall by the Canucks in 2003, Brownlee suffered shoulder injury after shoulder injury. Eventually, it became clear that he wouldn’t be able to help the Canucks on the ice, so he went to the Canucks and he said, “My shoulders aren’t so good. What can I do instead of playing hockey to represent the greatest team in the world?”

And they asked Brownlee if he had any special talents, and he said he played guitar, sang a little country now and then, and was handsome. And that’s when the two sides hatched an idea.

“Far too many Canadian country stars are from Alberta, the cowboy province,” the Canucks said. “They hate us over there and they mock us through song. What we need is a Vancouver-based country singer to take up musical arms in our defence, to rail against the sickeningly anti-Canuck bias in Canadian country music.”

“I will be your country warrior,” said Brownlee. And thus, he set out to establish himself as a country artist, all the while remaining vigilant for any instance of anti-Canuck rhetoric stemming from those dastardly Albertan dastards. Finally, this week, his true purpose came to light when country artist and Oilers fan Brett Kissel wrote disparaging things about the Canucks on Facebook then wrote a super-offensive half-hearted apology song set to the tune of Alan Jackson’s “She’s Gone Country”:

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In the playoffs, Pahlsson and Kassian made the Hodgson trade harder to swallow

Back in February, Mike Gillis shocked the NHL by trading away one of the best rookies in the league for an unproven power forward prospect. The fact that this came at a time when the Canucks were supposed to be buyers gearing up for the playoffs baffled and even angered a lot of Canucks fans.

Cody Hodgson was seen by a lot of people — including us at PITB — as part of the solution for the scoring issues that hit the Canucks in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. He made the third line into a scoring line rather than a checking line and improved the second unit powerplay to the point that I suggested he be moved to the first unit when the powerplay was struggling. He was also one of the main reasons the Canucks had a lot of powerplay opportunities early in the season, as he was the best player on the team at drawing penalties.

But my favourite thing that Hodgson did was make goal posts sing with his blistering slap shot. To put it simply, I liked Hodgson a lot.

So when Mike Gillis sent him to Buffalo for Zack Kassian, I was shocked. After all, the dark times had passed for Hodgson and, while still a longshot, he was in the Calder Trophy conversation after 10 points in 11 games in January saw him named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month.

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The Canucks gave Cody Hodgson two makeovers this year

Considering when news of Cody Hodgson’s trade to Buffalo broke — at around 12:30 PST, well after the trade deadline had passed — you could be forgiven for thinking it was a last-minute deal, like the one that brought Chris Higgins to the team at the 2011 cutoff. And, after Hodgson’s agent Ritch Winter claimed in the aftermath that he and Hodgson had met with the Canucks the weekend prior about icetime, you might even think it was a kneejerk move.

But on Tuesday morning at Mike Gillis’s season wrap-up presser, the Canucks’ GM had some interesting things to say about the circumstances surrounding Hodgson’s departure. Most notably, while he never quite said it, it’s apparent that even if Buffalo didn’t get onboard until later, the team had been working on a Hodgson deal since December at least.

Remember how Hodgson’s teammates gave him an off-ice makeover? Turns out the coaching staff gave him one too.

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Roberto Luongo is willing to waive his no-trade clause; will Mike Gillis ask him to?

For what it’s worth, I’m not so sure that Roberto Luongo’s willingness to waive his no-trade clause if asked is all that big a deal. With a few exceptions (Down Goes Brown bitterly reminds me of former Canuck Mats Sundin), no-trade clauses aren’t an insurmountable obstacle.

The fact is that an NTC is simply there to prevent players from being blindsided. If you have one, you won’t ever have to worry about answering your phone, only to be told you’ve been moved. That’s a nightmare call for anyone, and you can’t begrudge players looking for a guarantee that they’ll never have to receive it, especially as they attempt to lay down roots.

But if someone told me they didn’t want me, I wouldn’t force them to have me. And that’s what it comes down to with Roberto Luongo. He may have veto power, but the moment he needs to exercise it, his relationship with the Canucks changes forever. In effect, the decision here belongs to Mike Gillis, despite Luongo’s contract stipulating that he be consulted on it.

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The super-convincing story of how Brittany Carnegie punked everyone

You might remember Brittany Carnegie from such breaking, front-page stories as that time she tweeted a picture of the vandalism at boyfriend Milan Lucic’s church, or that other time she dominated the news cycle for calling Cory Schneider’s girlfriend a trucker. The latter incident was quite the foofaraw, if you’ll recall. According to Carnegie, she wore a Bruins hat to a game, Schneider’s girlfriend gave her the finger for it, and then she captured the hearts and imaginations of the entire hockey world by tweeting the tale of this whole sordid affair.

Considering the universe had yet to right the egregious wrongs Carnegie suffered on that fateful night, you knew she might have something to say about Schneider getting beaten on Jarrett Stoll’s overtime winner that eliminated Vancouver from the playoffs Sunday night.

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I Watched This Playoff Game: Canucks vs Los Angeles Kings, April 22, 2012

Though it was a tough way to lose the game, the Canucks can take solace in getting the game to overtime and earning the single point. Wait, what? That’s not how it works in the playoffs? The Canucks have been eliminated? That’s it? It’s over? Oh. I watched this game. Canucks 1 – 2 Kings [...]

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Kevin Bieksa pranks interviewer, does an entire interview pretending to be Ryan Kesler

We’ve said it time and time again this season: Kevin Bieksa is a blogger’s dream. Every single one of his interviews yields some sort of comedy gold, from animal nicknames to milk hot dogs to LMFAO references and beyond. But a recent interview he did with Mike Dunsmore of Fox Sports is the best thing he’s ever given us.

You see, for the duration of the interview, Bieksa pretends to be Ryan Kesler. Dunsmore approached Bieksa after the Canucks’ Game 4 win in Los Angeles, thinking that’s who he was. And Bieksa, recognizing the gift-wrapped prank the moment he saw it, just went with it. What follows are 2:40 of fall off your chair hilarity.

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Amazing fan art: a gallery of Canuck-themed nails

On Friday, while scouring Youtube for the latest and greatest in Canuck-related videos (a successful hunt — I found this parrot), I came across a handful of videos on Canuck-themed makeup and nails.

Considering the creativity and effort that can go into this practice, it instantly occurred to me that this was a completely ignored facet of Canuck fan art.

When it comes to postseason fan support, the playoff beard get most of the attention, mainly because the conversation is driven by men and, with a few notable exceptions, men are typically the ones growing out their facial hair. But turning into a mountain man is far from the only way to decorate oneself in support for the home team. Some wear colours. Some do facepaint. Some dye hair. Some re-paint and wear badass Boba Fett helmets. And a lot of women (and some men) meticulously Canuckify their nails.

Frankly, it seems downright lazy to ignore this pocket of fan support, especially considering how popular it is. Sure, this blog is run by men, but just because we don’t do something doesn’t mean we can’t feature it. I can’t draw to save my life; we feature drawings all the time. (Plus we love women. Heck, we prefer them to men.)

With that in mind, we solicited pictures of Canuck-themed nails and got some pretty cool submissions.

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Breakdowning Henrik’s 3rd period goal from Game 4

The return of Daniel Sedin on Wednesday was expected to have a trickle-down effect on the Canucks lineup, but Alain Vigneault wasn’t content to just put things back the way they were. He put David Booth, who had just one goal in his last 14 games, with the twins and put Dan Hamhuis on the point of the powerplay instead of returning Sami Salo to his usual spot.

Both turned out to be good decisions: Booth picked up the primary assist on Kevin Bieksa’s gamewinning goal by using his speed to back off the defence, giving Bieksa plenty of room to shoot, while Hamhuis set up Alex Edler on the opening goal on the powerplay.

Both Booth and Hamhuis played a major role in Henrik Sedin’s insurance marker in the third period as well. I had an insurance marker once. It was a felt pen from where my parents bought insurance. It wasn’t as nice as Henrik’s goal.

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Drance Numbers: Kesler and Booth have chemistry

Advanced statistics and quantitative analysis have consistently proven useful in hockey, but any honest hockey math nerd will admit that there are factors the numbers can’t quite measure. Some things operate on the U.S. Supreme Court’s “I know it when I see it” principle. Supposedly, one such unmeasurable factor is chemistry, which has been a major talking point among Canuck nation of late.

During the regular season, David Booth played roughly 35 total even-strength minutes with the Sedin twins. He played more with former Florida Panthers teammate Tomas Kopecky. Yet, with the team facing elimination in Game 4 of the Canucks’ first round series with the Los Angeles Kings, Alain Vigneault modified his lines, bumping Booth up to the top line to skate with the twins. That alteration to the team’s forward lines separated Booth from Ryan Kesler, his linemate all season.

Despite being somewhat bemused by Booth’s move to the Sedins’ right wing, many cheered the split from Kesler, as the two apparently have “no chemistry.” Oh, but they do.

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Video: Meet Moko, a grey African parrot and Canucks fan

We had a bird in my house growing up — a cockatiel. It could speak, sort of. On rare occasions, it would mumble, “Birdy, birdy, birdy,” to the amazement of anybody in the room at the time. (This always struck me as unimpressive. No one would be wowed by a guy that just said, “Human. Human,” all the time.) But no one much cared for Birdy (we let her name herself). She was a biter. Also, my dad was told she was a male when he bought her, but then one day she laid eggs. No one likes a bird that makes a fool of you by changing sexes.

Anyway, after Birdy, I’m not much for birds. But I could totally get behind Moko, a grey African parrot and, apparently, a Vancouver Canucks fan.

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Spitballin’ on Chris Tanev’s glove, the creepiest Sedin video ever, and Luongo’s future

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass It To Bulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour. Here are a few quick topics.

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