Report: Alain Vigneault, Rick Bowness, Newell Brown fired by the Canucks

Earlier this morning, Harrison asked just how long Mike Gillis was going to drag out the decision on what to do with Alain Vigneault. Apparently the answer was “this long.” Louis Jean from Quebec outlet TVA reports that Vigneault, along with associate coach Rick Bowness and assistant Newell Brown, has been fired by the Canucks.

I, for one, am shocked.

 

Okay, I’m not the least bit shocked. This was a move that we all saw coming. While Vigneault has been one of the best coaches in Canucks history and certainly the most successful one, two straight first round exits,  the second coming in a 4-game sweep, will inevitably lead to changes.

If this report is true, then it looks like Gillis is making a clean sweep of the coaching staff behind the bench, retaining only behind-the-scenes coaches like video guy Darryl Williams and goaltending coach Rollie Melanson. Of course, it’s entirely possible that they’ll be next under the knife, but since they’re not the public face of the coaching staff, it’s not all that necessary to fire them if they’re doing a good job.

That’s the thing, really: Vigneault was still doing a good job. Despite the oddities of the 48-game schedule and the challenges of having no second or third line center to start the season, Vigneault still coached the Canucks to yet another Northwest Division title. He certainly made some decisions that left many people scratching their heads and there are plenty of things that I and many others wish he had done differently, but it was still a successful regular season coach.

The playoffs, however, were a different animal, and the Canucks never looked fully prepared for what the San Jose Sharks had to offer. Some of the responsibility for that has to fall on the head coach and ultimately, it was enough to cost Vigneault his job.

It’s not surprising that Bowness is out with Vigneault, considering how long they’ve worked together. Their connection goes back to when Bowness was the head coach of the Ottawa Senators and Vigneault was one of his assistants. The two may continue to work together in the future, as Vigneault is unlikely to be unemployed for long and may bring Bowness as an assistant to wherever he is hired next.

That said, Bowness was a likely candidate to be fired in any case. The defence was his responsibility and the Canucks were frequently a gong show in their own end this season.

The same can be said for Brown, who was brought in two seasons ago as a powerplay specialist and saw immediate returns. This season, however, the powerplay was an absolute disaster, converting on just 15.8% of their opportunities and finishing 22nd in the league. Add in the bizarre personnel deployment decisions, like playing Daniel Sedin on the point in lieu of Jason Garrison and it seemed like Brown had exhausted his bag of tricks with this group.

Still, it’s sad to see all three go, as memories of the magnificent 2011 season are still fresh in my mind. They deserve credit for the work they did in Vancouver and the next coaching staff of the Canucks will have a lot to live up to.

UPDATE:

It’s official: the Canucks have fired Vigneault, Bowness, and Brown.

“We have made the very difficult decision to relieve Alain Vigneault, Rick Bowness and Newell Brown of their coaching duties today,” said Canucks President and General Manager, Michael D. Gillis. “Alain, Rick and Newell worked tirelessly to lead this team to great on-ice success. I am personally grateful to each of them and their families for their commitment to the Canucks and the city of Vancouver and wish them continued success in future.”

UPDATE PART DEUX:

Alain Vigneault released an official statement after the announcement of his firing. It’s pretty great.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Aquilini family, Mike Gillis, Lorne Henning, Laurence Gilman, Stan Smyl, Victor de Bonis and the entire management, scouting, training and front office staff with the Vancouver Canucks. The past seven years have been an honour for me to coach and work for a great franchise in a wonderful Canadian city. To work in a city with such passionate and loyal fans is a privilege – I enjoyed every moment of it.

I am grateful to Dave Nonis and Steve Tambellini for the opportunity they provided me eight years ago. Over the past seven years, I have made many good friends in Vancouver and had the chance to coach quality players who cared deeply about their profession and were committed to winning. I am grateful to the players and their families for the sacrifice and dedication they showed in an effort to be the best they could be. Watching as many of our players started families, became fathers and grew as men, on and off of the ice, was equally rewarding.

To Rick Bowness, Newell Brown, Rollie Melanson and Darryl Williams – I say thank you for your tireless effort every day – I am grateful for your friendship and dedication. You should all be very proud of your achievements.

I am proud of many of the things we accomplished as a group these past seven seasons in Vancouver and only wish we were able to win the Canucks first Stanley Cup. I am a career coach and it is what I love to do. I hope to coach again in this League and will always have good memories of my time and the fans in Vancouver.

Coach V

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37 comments

  1. steveB
    May 22, 2013

    They leave some big shoes to fill, but to tell you the truth, those shoes were getting worn-out and a bit smelly since 2011.

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    Rating: +18 (from 20 votes)
  2. @_twurtle
    May 22, 2013

    Guess it was about time, seems like it was a case of the voice getting old after being here for so long. Interesting side note, Dallas Eakins, who you guys mentioned as the best potential replacement, is actually married to Ingrid Kavelaars a Canadian actress who lives in Vancouver. It is kind of like a reverse-Luongo.

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    Rating: +12 (from 12 votes)
  3. Chinstrap Joe
    May 22, 2013

    His post game news conferences in the playoff round against San Jose showed complete surrender on his part. He was done, he knew it and all of us knew it was time for a change.

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    Rating: +11 (from 13 votes)
  4. akidd
    May 22, 2013

    something had to give. AV has done very good things for the canucks. compiled a great record. nurtured some very good players. i wish him well.

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    Rating: +19 (from 19 votes)
  5. Zach Morris
    May 22, 2013

    Thus ends an era.

    Now I have no idea what to expect.
    The Sedins split up? Garrison on the power play? Harrison on the power play?

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    • Brent
      May 22, 2013

      harrison on the power play! yea! They would be laughing so hard at his yoga pants, Henrik would be able to pass it to the back of the net.

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  6. John
    May 22, 2013

    The next step SHOULD BE getting rid of Mike Gillis – who after all, was a player agent before becoming the Vancouver GM, and negotiated some horrible contracts for the team (see Roberto Luongo) and was never able to pull the trigger on any good deals (see Roberto Luongo) – but apparently, Gillis is a hand-picked fav of the owner, so that is not one of the primary options.
    It is going to get a lot worse in Vancouver before it gets better.
    Five will get you 10 that AV will not be out of work for long – and the team he signs with will get to the Stanley Cup final before the Canucks get a sniff again.

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    • Tom 1040
      May 22, 2013

      Absolutely, and more.

      When MGGM (the fraud) shmoozed the GM job in the first place, he was recommended by none other than Gino Odjick, and the Courtnall brothers.

      Gee, comforting.

      When fraud Gillis got the team he said the team was very far off from Cup potential (wrong, they coulda, shoulda, woulda won the Cup with a better coach in 2009),

      What’s more, he complained about no-trade clauses, and long-term contracts and how it was time for outside the box thinking.

      Hence, Wellwood, Bernier, Demetra, and Sundin led by team captain and me-first Luongo.

      And oh yes, he re-signed the Burke/Nonis core.

      AV got canned, if true, 5 years too late.

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  7. ktownfan
    May 22, 2013

    While I wasn’t totally sure Gillis would fire AV, I was pretty damn sure Brown and Bowness would be gone. Despite investing 24+ million on defensemen, the Canucks D was spotty and inconsistent this year and the PK got torched vs SJ, both of those are on Bowness. The PP has been awful since Jan 2012 and Brown has done nothing to make it better. He should have been fired the second he suggested putting Daniel on the point!

    I hope Gillis can feel the heat being turned up under his own personal seat. Firing Av starts his clock a ticking as well.

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  8. BBoone
    May 22, 2013

    Well, this should have happened by simply not giving him an extension after last season. Having said that, at what point does GMMG come under real scrutiny here? The trades for Ballard and Booth, and the deadline trades the last two years have not worked out at all. Furthermore the failure to get any value last off -season for Roberto is pretty poor. He also allowed Vigneault to mis manage a variety of personnel matters. The bottom line here is that neither AV nor MG have done a very good job in retooling this team on the fly and they are now in a bit of a pickle in my opinion. Having said that you cannot take away the great success for most of there partnership. Good Luck AV.

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  9. Nee
    May 22, 2013

    Sad to see them fired…it’s tough when good people lose their jobs, especially after such a long time in the city and organization. But it was time for a change in the coaching staff.

    Best of luck to them wherever they end up.

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  10. Tom 1040
    May 22, 2013

    Denial,

    “That said, Bowness was a likely candidate to be fired in any case. The defence was his responsibility and the Canucks were frequently a gong show in their own end this season.”

    Why haven’t you cited my name with this quotation? I believe I wrote this 6 weeks ago or longer. You have simply changed ‘fire-drill’ to ‘gong show’.

    Anyway, you are welcome.

    Hey, why don’t you write a post on all of my comments?

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    • Harrison Mooney
      May 22, 2013

      Yes, Tom, you are the first — nay, ONLY — person to have ever suggested this. Congratulations on your unique insight.

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      Rating: +35 (from 35 votes)
      • Tom 1040
        May 22, 2013

        See, I knew you couldn’t stay away. Got you again.

        Glad you at least recognize my foresight now though a little late.

        And, you sure didn’t acknowledge it 6 weeks ago.

        All I got, if I remember correctly were ‘thumbs down’ and probably a few choice replies.

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        • John in Marpole
          May 22, 2013

          Your (unfulfilled) desire to be a star on the internet betrays the quality of your life.

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          • Tom 1040
            May 23, 2013

            This coming from someone who has no life.

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        • Harrison Mooney
          May 22, 2013

          Tom, do you assume that anyone who responds to your lunacy is validating you? It would appear that way.

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          Rating: +7 (from 7 votes)
          • Tom 1040
            May 23, 2013

            Harry, you don’t even know what you’re saying.

            People on this site, including you, respond WITH lunacy as it seems THEY (and you) seek validation.

            In all seriousness, I think you were more productive going around town and waving that silly towel.

            Please, don’t respond. I mean, you always come a distant second in these battles anyway.

            Just give up and not respond even if Ms. Marpole lends you some courage.

            Try it for a while.

            As for my ‘lunacy’, why don’t you go back and do a retrospective on my lunacy? Go ahead.

            In closing, given the 3 – 1 Pitts. lead and the 3 – 0 Boston lead, I am now basically 9 out of 10 on the playoff picks – how’s that for lunacy.

            Crazy…just crazy.

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    • Aaron
      May 22, 2013

      Tom I have to give you a huge pat on the back! That way maybe you won’t throw your shoulder out doing it yourself. Hate to see that happen.

      Lets talk Sundin who was not a huge success on the Ice but, the year after he left the twins finally started to show up! He was hired for his leadership as much as his ability and attitude. He helped change the culture in the dressing room. As quoted by players and Managment. It is soooo easy to pick apart a decision after the fact. Gilles has made mistakes but he has done some good things too.

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      • Tom 1040
        May 22, 2013

        Thanks for the pat on the back Aaron. I’ll stop patting myself on the back as soon as others, like you, do so, or, until I am wrong.

        Which do you think will come first?

        Also Aaron, I’m sorry, but you are joking, aren’t you? Sundin was the reason for the Sedin’s breakout? He changed the culture in the dressing room by playing slow and unispired hockey?

        I don’t think anyone would be offered 2 years at $20M for leadership.

        But, let me pat you on the back for trying and say, ‘it’s okay…not too many people read this blog, anyway.’

        And, of course, Gillis has done some good things…after all, he was responsible for all the teams in the NW going for an absolute dump for 5 years, right…and, well…he did fire AV though much to much too late…oh, and he drafted Schneider, right…or…..

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  11. ikillchicken
    May 22, 2013

    If he’s making questionable decisions…and the team is ultimately failing when it counts…then he is not in any meaningful sense doing a “good job”.

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  12. wetcoastace
    May 22, 2013

    Well, the axe was going to fall on someone but my personal selection would have been Gillis, the architect of some really bizarre trades as well as the Oz-like commitment to Luongo until he is old enough for the CPP….

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    • Tom 1040
      May 22, 2013

      Hey, c’mon…

      …he had the dressing rooms painted.

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      • Tom
        May 22, 2013

        I love those colours.

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  13. Amor de Cosmos
    May 22, 2013

    Was Alain Vignault the best coach in Canucks history? Probably, certainly one of the top three. Worth bearing in mind as we mull over his failings and speculate about his successor. Nice one big guy, thanks for the memories.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      May 22, 2013

      Exactly. Whoever the next coach is will have some pretty weighty expectations placed on him.

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  14. Justin
    May 22, 2013

    I’d love it if GMMG fire himself too, but the likeliness is that he would first sign himself to such a bad contract that he would be impossible to buy out.

    As for AV, I have to echo what everyone else is saying. Great job preying on the week (winning 5 consecutive division titles while only 3 teams ever made the playoffs). I’d be surprised if AV is still out of a job by the time this gets posted. Sometimes a change of face leads to a change of pace (in this case hopefully from painstakingly slow and dull to watchable).

    Slow clap for “coach”. You were infinitely times better than Mike Keenan.

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  15. STU KATZ
    May 22, 2013

    He will be rehired as soon as Montreal releases their coach . And the Habs will once again dominate the Canadian scene . They are only a few trades away for some strength in the middle and a couple of bigger ” D ” men . Look out , the tears will be flowing for a few years here in the ‘Couv

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  16. PB
    May 22, 2013

    I don’t understand the hate for Gillis on the Luongo trade. People act as if this is an aberration and the only longterm deal ever signed in the NHL. On balance the Luongo deal is not a bad one — sure, it’s not great for him to be a 1A and it’s not great for the Canucks not to be able to flip him for those so-readily available high first rounders and top prospects everyone seems to think are just waiting to be plucked from other teams. But at a $5.3 million cap hit and still elite abilities he is a way better deal than say Rick Dipietro or Scott Gomez, Shawn Horcoff or Vinnie Lecvalier. Or even Brad Richards in this playoff. We didn’t have to bury him like Redden or freaking Jeff Finger in the minors. It’s just absurd to say that Gillis is somehow ALL BAD, just as Vigneault is somehow now the worst coach in the world.

    Coach V clearly wore out his welcome and I think ran out of ideas. His assistants didn’t help and his penchant for playing favorites was bizarre (and led to underutilization of talent). But to suggest that he was wholly incompetent or that Gillis is completely at fault is equally stupid. I just don’t understand the pitchfork crew for Gillis either — the Ballard and Booth trades cost us very little (Grabner never ended up in FLA and is a bad-team good player, Howden is sort of a third liner in training, while Samuellson and Sturm were on the way out anyway). Ballard didn’t work out but what the hell, you have to try, no? Gillis has made a number of very good moves along the way — resigning the Sedins, Burrows, Higgins, Lapierre, Kesler, Edler, Bieksa, all to reasonable cap hits, signing Hamhuis, Tanev and Garrison, drafting Jensen, Corrado, Gaunce. I don’t get the all or nothing views on either Vigneault or Gillis.

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  17. sox/canucks fan
    May 22, 2013

    Vigneault is taking the fall here for several colossal management blunders by the GM, the three biggest of which was (not) dealing Luongo in the three windows that were open to him to make a deal two of which have happened since July 1 2012.

    We’ll leave aside the questions about the Booth trade (for Samuellson, who is proving a useful player in Detroit this postseason, and pucks going both ways), the Ballard trade (for Grabner, who would have looked good in the top six lately), letting Salo go, and focus on the Luongo three strikes.

    Yes, it is easy in hindsight to say that Luongo’s contract, given Schneider’s clearly developing potential to be a number one, should have never been consummated back in 2010 – but that is the fundamental role of the GM – to have foresight is what he is paid well to do. To have a plan that sees further into the future than us stupid fans do. Maybe take a hit one year to ensure many years of resilient relevance after that. He should’ve seen Schneider would be ready back in 2010-11. Strike one.

    Strike two: To come into the lockout and not see the hindrance Luongo’s contract would be to implementing a five-year rollover plan, and make a deal last summer, any deal, with Toronto or whomever would be acceptable to Luongo. Any one of Kadri, Bozak, or Gerdiner should have been acceptable.

    Why? Because the writing had to be on the wall about just how punitive the owners were going to be in the new labour agreement about the workaround contracts like Luongo’s clearly was.

    Strike three: To not agree to any deal to trade Luongo once the shortened season started and to lick wounds. The GM should have foreseen that the glut of free agent goalies who will make their new deals this summer under the aforementioned new collective bargaining agreement will make trading Luongo now nearly impossible, and certainly not more advantageous.

    It is at least fifty-fifty that Luongo will be with the team next year, thereby eating up 5+M in a reduced salary cap landscape that would otherwise go to depth on four lines. After buying out and eating some of that cap space due to the Booth and Ballard signings.

    I think it is likely that Luongo is here next year. Schneider will be traded simply because the returns are bigger for him than the other number one.

    Perhaps the GM has known this for a year, and he knew that trading Schneider would ultimately be the ace in the hole he’d have to play if his gambit with this year, and the window the team he is managing quickly closes, forces his hand.

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  18. sox/canucks fan
    May 22, 2013

    All of which is to say, or perhaps strike four:

    In Detroit, “rebuilding on the fly” is what they’ve apparently done, and Gillis and his scouting staff apparently haven’t. Drafting Jensen, Corrado, Gaunce, none of whom have proven anything in the NHL, isn’t much of an argument.

    http://kuklaskorner.com/tmr/comments/holland-babcock-and-the-red-wings-players-talk-about-rebuilding-on-the-fly

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  19. Tom 1040
    May 23, 2013

    Lunacy…absolute lunacy.

    :)

    And, there’s much more that Gillis has screwed up.

    But, it’s the trainers’ faults, right?

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  20. PB
    May 23, 2013

    It is equally ridiculous to think that Gillis at the time should’ve known that Luongo’s contract would’ve been the millstone that it’s seemingly become. Hindsight is easy, when they were negotiating I didn’t see a lot of people thinking this deal didn’t make sense. Schneider had three excellent AHL seasons and a grand total of 10 games in the NHL (and I still remember his first against the Sharks where he got absolutely shelled). He looked like a decent backup and had potential but not much more. At the time you’d likely have also said that Schneider had proved as little as the current roster of Canucks draft picks have.

    For all this talk of Gillis mismanagement — and I agree he’s made mis-steps, but again hindsight, who would’ve thought that Pahlsson and Roy for relatively low costs would have been so pathetic? Or that Booth would’ve been an injury-prone wreck or that Ballard would’ve been mismanaged by AV so badly — the team has still managed to be one of the top teams in the league during his tenure. I think Gillis is on the hot seat for sure as the window is closing but these apocalyptic assessments are way off the mark

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    • Tom 1040
      May 23, 2013

      PB,

      “Who would have thought that Pahlsson and Roy would have been so pathetic?”

      How about 30 other GM’s?

      That’s why Gillis gets paid the big bucks – he’s the GM. He supposed to know and he consistently doesn’t know.

      And, not only is he an individual excuse factory, he has you to make excuses for him as well.

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  21. mb13
    May 23, 2013

    The consensus choices for a buy-out are Ballard, Booth and Luongo.

    What are the circumstances that led to them being bought out… Gillis traded for a bad contract and player in Ballard, Gillis traded for a bad contract and player in Booth and Gillis signed Luongo to a terrible contract. What do they all have in common?

    Let’s look at these one by one.

    Ballard. Gillis trades a 1st round pick for Ballard. Florida was probably trying not to laugh during the trade discussions. “You mean you’re going to give us a 1st AND take Ballard and his $4M+ contract for 4 years off our hands… hold on”…push mute on phone… “hahahahahahahahahahahahah”… back to conversation…”OK – we will do it as a favor to you”. Cut to Gillis patting himself on the back.

    Booth. Gillis trades Sammuelson and Sturm for Booth. I’m not even going to discuss the deal. I’m going to discuss the cruel way that Gillis moves Sturm 3 weeks after signing the guy… after the guy finds a home and enrolls his children into school. Gillis talks about being professional – I found that move completely classless and lacked professionalism. If I was an agent of a free agent whose player wanted to sign with Vancouver on a 1 or 2 year deal – I’d insist on a no trade clause because Gillis thinks commitment is a one way street. Nevermind that Florida handn’t stopped laughing from the Ballard deal and the Canucks are calling to take away another stupid contract off their hands.

    Luongo – yes, there have been long term deals given out to players previous to Lu. The issue is that the majority of them have been to players that aren’t on the ice for 60 minutes. If Kovalchuk is no longer the Devils best goal scorer, he still is useful. If Weber isn’t on your top pairing, he still plays. If Lu isn’t your best goalie, he wears a baseball cap (and a blocker for some unexplained reason). That is why giving out the long term deals to goalies makes little sense (as much as making them your captain). It makes even less sense to give him the contract after 2 consecutive playoff meltdowns. Even less sense than knowing Schneider is coming and is going to very good by all accounts (even the guys you paid as scouts say so). Giving Lu that contract made about as much sense as calling him the best goalie in hockey – because lots of best goalies in hockey have never won a Vezina or a Hart or a Cup.

    Gillis is a fraud. He has a made a mess of this team. Now we will see how good of a GM he is. The longer he has had to put a stamp on this team, the more questionable moves he has made. Being GM was easy when he was gifted Hart, Art Ross, Selke and Jack Adams winners. Now the hard part begins and my bet is that Gillis resigns sooner than we all think because he can’t take the heat. He likes being a front runner – but when heavy lifting is required, he’ll fold. And we’ll realize why the Canucks failed in the playoffs – they took their cues from a GM who couldn’t handle it.

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  22. mb13
    May 23, 2013

    PS – does anybody have a transcript, copy or link to Gillis’ first press conference.

    Unlike most people in the world, I like to hold people accountable to their words. I remember him saying that the previous regime left him with nothing, the cupboard was bare. yadda yadda yadda.

    Has he even delivered on his own mandate? If not – maybe his call to Toronto for Lu trade talks should start with an apology to Nonis and Burke.

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  23. the real bob
    May 25, 2013

    look on the bright side, no more infuriating drop passes on the power play.

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