The long awaited, much-ballyhooed meeting between Mike Gillis and the Aquilini Ownership group has taken place, and we have news to report: the Canucks’ General Manager has emerged from this meeting … still the Canucks General Manager.
The team announced Monday that Gillis’s contract as president and GM of Canucks Sports and Entertainment has been extended, although the duration of the new contract was not announced.
(This leaves the door wide open for endless speculation over the term. Is it a two-year extension? If it a 50-year extension!? There’s simply no way of knowing.)
I don’t have much to say about Gillis’s extension by itself. I’ve gone on record many times as saying I like the guy, so I’m happy to see him remain in charge. He’s made some mistakes in his time — with two years to evaluate it, we can safely say the Keith Ballard trade has been a bust, and the David Backes/Steve Bernier offer sheet scenario was a bit of a fiasco, in retrospect — but I like the way he runs the team overall, from the emphasis on advanced stats and other metrics, to the way the team manages the cap, to the way he and his assistants are always scheming to bend the rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
There were some schemes he pulled this year I didn’t like, such as sitting the veterans in the preseason, making roster moves based on cap flexibility rather than merit in an effort to preserve bodies, and slyly suggesting the team to take their foot off the gas a little down the home stretch, but I’ll happily take a GM who’s trying unorthodox things over, say, whatever the Hell’s going on in Edmonton.
(Seriously, consider the way the Oilers are run and then recall that Steve Tambellini was next in line to run the Canucks when Gillis was hired instead of him. You think Gillis is so bad? You’re spoiled. Sometimes I wonder if fans realize their expectations are so high because of the work Gillis has done over the last four years.)
No doubt the move won’t satisfy everybody, especially after the way this season ended. First-round exits turn a great many fans into reactionary crazies, and many are in full-blown “blow it up” mode right now as a result. The fact that, instead, things will stay the same will undoubtedly draw out the “It’s been 40 years” crowd that sees Canucks’ fandom as the desert outside of Egypt because they have no idea how to enjoy fun and successful regular seasons.
CBC’s Elliotte Friedman has been reporting that Gillis’s continued employment hinged on the Aquilinis also showing a willingness to re-sign coach Vigneault. While the coach and GM were something of an arranged marriage when Gillis took over for Dave Nonis in 2007-08, they’ve become kindred spirits over the last four years. Both are as forward-thinking as NHL front-office types get and it often goes unmentioned how complicit they have to be in one another’s schemes for them to pull a lot of these shenanigans off.
Staging Cody Hodgson to be traded, for instance, requires some serious buy-in from the coach, no?
This is the primary reason I suspect Gillis is reluctant to make a coaching change: what if the new guy doesn’t mesh with him in the same fashion? Gillis and Vigneault enable one another in a unique way. They’re strangely symbiotic.
In a conference call immediately following the announcement, Gillis talked about unfinished business, and I get the sense he’d like one more crack at finishing this business with Vigneault in the fold before he considers a change there. I’d expect an extension for the bench boss to be announced shortly.Tags: Alain Vigneault, blow everything up, contract extensions, extensions, fire everybody, Mike Gillis