At the Canucks’ season-ending press conference in May, Mike Gillis repeatedly emphasized the idea of a reset and stressed the need for youth. “We need to have a different look,” he told reporters, “We need to get younger.”
That message continued during the summer, as Gillis reiterated, “I want to have opportunities for young players on this team.”
Now, after a busy weekend, those opportunities have disappeared. None of the Canucks’ highly-touted young prospects will be on the ice in San Jose as the Canucks face the Sharks to open the season. In fact, only two players under the age of 25 is expected to be in the lineup: Chris Tanev and new acquisition Zac Dalpe. For Canucks fans excited to see homegrown prospects make the team, the Canucks’ current roster has to be a disappointment.Continue Reading —›
For some reason, Canucks fans have been exceedingly worried about Chris Tanev this off-season. The number of tweets and e-mails that I’ve received asking about Tanev is mind-boggling, particularly considering he has only played one full season with the Canucks and it happened to be one shortened by a lockout. Tanev is certainly a good young player, but he’s not worth all the fuss and bother that has been raised over the past month.
The concern is particularly overblown when you consider that Tanev doesn’t have arbitration rights and therefore has minimal leverage in contract negotiations. The Canucks will re-sign the cool, calm, and collected defenceman eventually — it’ll just take time to sort out the particulars.
Meanwhile, as Canucks fans eagerly await a new contract for Tanev, Mike Gillis has quietly gone about re-signing a quartet of other restricted free agents to new deals.Continue Reading —›
If the Vancouver Canucks’ plan was to quell the surge of negativity that began to surround Roberto Luongo after 2011, and somehow redirect public opinion squarely back into his corner, then the events of Sunday afternoon were the final, remarkable moments in one of the most brilliantly orchestrated long cons in the history of the game.
When the Canucks’ goaltending disaster finally saw its coup de grace and it turned out to be not Luongo on the way out but Cory Schneider getting an Amtrak ticket to Newark, nearly everyone in Vancouver saw Luongo as the pitiable victim of a raw deal.
That he completely is. And considering the last two years have been a raw deal borne of another raw deal — his contract — this thing is three raw deals deep. That’s a raw deal with a capital R, like The Score’s broadcast contract with the WWE.Continue Reading —›
With all that nonsense about the Stanley Cup done and over with, hockey fans can turn their focus entirely to the entry draft, which will be happening in its entirety on Sunday, June 30th. Pass it to Bulis will be all over the draft from a Canucks perspective, from both myself “in studio” and Harrison, who will actually be in New Jersey providing on the ground coverage.
I’m assuming that means he’ll be spending most of his time actually lying on the ground, listening for Luongo trade rumours being broadcast by the reptilian Mahars that dwell within the hollow earth.
The draft is usually more exciting for those teams picking near the top, particularly this year, where potential franchise players like Seth Jones, Nathan McKinnon, and Jonathan Drouin are expected to be the top-three picks. The Canucks, both fortunately and unfortunately, have picked late in the first round for quite some time due to their regular season success.
So what can we expect from the the Canucks this year? To find out, I took a look at the common factors in every draft since Mike Gillis was hired. While Gillis has adjusted his drafting strategy over time, there are definitely certain patterns and tendencies that give us a pretty good idea of what to expect come Sunday.Continue Reading —›
In New York City, Alain Vigneault is being touted as an upgrade over John Tortorella. This, in itself, isn’t a surprise. After all, Tortorella’s abrasive style had worn out its welcome in the Big Apple, particularly with the media, and Vigneault comes with some impressive credentials to his name.
What is surprising, however, is that one of the big reasons he’s being touted as an upgrade is because he’s an offensive coach. In fact, Glen Sather specifically said that Vigneault “loves the offensive game” in the press conference introducing the new head coach. That will come as a shock to Vigneault’s biggest detractors in Vancouver, who bemoaned his tendency to lapse into boring, defensive hockey at the drop of a hat.
Meanwhile, the coach for whom Sather considers Vigneault an offensive upgrade is on his way to Vancouver to coach the Vancouver Canucks.Continue Reading —›
Oilers’ General Manager Craig MacTavish originally went out shopping for an associate coach — a little first anniversary present for his man, Ralph Krueger. But, like a husband walking the mall in search of a gift for the wife, only to find himself drawn less to the jewelry stores and more to the family law offices on the second floor, MacTavish soon realized that what he really wanted was a divorce.
And so he fired up his Skype account and he fired Krueger in a flash. (It was a more fitting gift anyway. The first anniversary is the paper anniversary, so walking papers are more in line with the hierarchy than a shiny new associate.)
Now coachless, MacTavish did what any newly single man would do: he hit the market hard. Having keyed Dallas Eakins as his next target, and not long after hearing that Eakins had gone in for a second interview with the Vancouver Canucks and they might soon be getting serious, MacTavish sprung into action, got Eakins in the room, and made his best pitch.
When he left the room, Eakins was his. The next time Mike Gillis logged into Facebook, he saw that Eakins had changed his status to “in a relationship”, and then Eakins wouldn’t return any of his text messages, it was horrible.
Or something like that. In any case, if the Canucks were interested in Dallas Eakins to replace the recently-dismissed Alain Vigneault, he’s off the market. And now they have to look elsewhere.Continue Reading —›
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.Continue Reading —›
If you wanted to hear that Mike Gillis was going to blow up the Canucks’ roster and mass-fire the coaching staff during his press conference last Thursday, you were likely gravely disappointed. Gillis has never been one to make a hasty, emotional decision and he was disconcertingly calm as he answered questions about the Canucks’ disappointing season and the unceremonious four-game sweep that ended it.
Gillis stayed away from drastic words like “rebuild” and instead pushed the far less dramatic “reset” repeatedly. Which is silly, because everyone knows you only need to push reset once. Pushing it repeatedly is pointless. Besides, sometimes you have to take the cartridge out and blow on it before it will work properly.
“Five years ago, we came in here and reset this organization, and it’s time to do it again,” said Gillis, referring to 2008, when he was first hired to be the General Manager of the Vancouver Canucks.
Looking at what Gillis did then may help us know what to expect during the coming off-season. How much of a “reset” did Gillis institute when he joined the organization?Continue Reading —›
It’s officially the offseason for the Canucks, who crashed out of the playoffs in a four-game sweep at the hands of the San Jose Sharks. It was decidedly not awesome.
On the bright side, the rough end means that Gillis’s year-end press conference will be a little more heated than, say, if the Canucks had won 1) the Stanley Cup or 2) one game. Watch the fireworks here, and chat along with us below.Continue Reading —›
The real story of the trade deadline was the trades that weren’t made, particularly when it came to two big-name goaltenders in the Northwest Division. Both Miikka Kiprusoff and Roberto Luongo were rumoured to be heading to the Toronto Maple Leafs at various points throughout the day. Neither did.
The attitudes of the two goaltenders as rumours swirled couldn’t have been more different. Kiprusoff simply didn’t want to be traded. He might even retire in the off-season. Luongo clearly wanted nothing more than to be traded so that he could start playing hockey again, leading to one of the most honest and blunt press conferences in recent memory.
So why, exactly, didn’t Luongo get traded? Luongo himself seemed to think that it was because of his contract, while Mike Gillis said it wasn’t a stumbling block and that discussions have centred around picks and players. Exactly what picks and players is unclear, though one particular rumour quickly spread after the trade deadline had passed. Darren Dreger initially reported that the Canucks were looking to acquire Ben Scrivens and two second round draft picks in return for Roberto Luongo, a report that was echoed by Pierre LeBrun, Jason Botchford, and Kevin McGran, among others.
Dreger appeared on TSN 1050 on Monday, however, and threw a big ol’ wrench into the works, apparently revealing what the Canucks were originally seeking in a trade with the Leafs and throwing his original report into doubt in the process.Continue Reading —›
Roberto Luongo’s press conference on Wednesday was fascinating, yielding the delightful, and sure to be misinterpreted, soundbite “My contract sucks.” But the more interesting aspect for me came later in the press conference, when he was asked whether he could have made it easier for the Canucks to trade him.
Luongo flatly denied that he was ever asked to waive his no trade clause and never vetoed any trades, contradicting rumours and reports that have been floating around since the 2012 draft that the Canucks had a deal in place with the Maple Leafs, only to have it scuttled by Luongo exercising his contractual right to scuttle it.
It also seemed to contradict what Mike Gillis had to say about 20 minutes later. A closer look at what the two of them actually said and in what context, however, should clear up the contradictions.Continue Reading —›
It wasn’t a terrible NHL trade deadline for the Canucks. After all, they acquired Derek Roy, a skilled player that adds a very important element to their attack: a centre. They really haven’t had one of those all season.
Still, the 2013 trade deadline won’t be remembered in this city for what Mike Gillis did — it will be remembered for what he didn’t do. A big part of that is because he acquired Roy the day before the deadline, which is like giving a child a present on Christmas Eve. It’s exciting, but there had damn well better be something else under the tree on Christmas. But a bigger part is because Roberto Luongo wasn’t traded, leading to the the most indelible moment of the deadline, when Luongo told the world he had a sucky contract. That’ll stay with us, just like Luongo will.
All of this in mind, let’s take a look at the winners and losers of the deadline from a Vancouver perspective.Continue Reading —›
For a few brief, merciful days, all the talk of a Roberto Luongo trade in the media had been replaced by talk of a goalie controversy in Vancouver. We complained about the hype, questioned what would actually constitute a goalie controversy, and scoffed at how Alain Vigneault giving a world-class goaltender consecutive starts while he’s on a hot streak could even be called controversial.
But really, it was a relief.
For once, we could stop the endless speculation about potential Luongo trade destinations, returns, and whether he would even get traded at all. Instead, we could focus on a rather pleasant problem: which of the Canucks’ two fantastic goaltenders should start each game?
Unfortunately, it couldn’t last. Eventually the rumour mill would start up again; this time around, it was kicked into gear by a visit by Mike Gillis and Laurence Gilman to the Verizon Center for a game between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. This, of course, immediately led to speculation from every corner of the media landscape that the Canucks were working on a trade with the Capitals, with Luongo the centrepiece. That included Sports Illustrated, who need to pay closer attention to their photo captions.Continue Reading —›
It went unnoticed by almost everybody, what with actual hockey being played all weekend, but for a brief moment, all was quiet on the Luongo trade front. It began the moment Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri scored a goal each in the Leafs’ opener and Canuck fans did the math, realized both were on pace for 48-goal seasons, and deduced that Toronto would never trade them now.
Suddenly, all that Funny Bob-to-Toronto chatter went silent. And then the Canucks crapped the bed, so there were more pressing things to speculate about, like whether Roberto Luongo should start the game he was always scheduled to start.
But on Monday night, the Luongo trade frenzy picked right back up when, in an interview with Cam Cole of Pass it to Bulis (and sometimes the Vancouver Sun), Mike Gillis suggested that the team was making some progress in bringing this saga to a close.
“We have a potential deal in place with one team that has to do something with another player that they have — and it’s not who anybody thinks it is — and so we have to wait,” Gillis said.Continue Reading —›
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 bend the rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.Continue Reading —›
The NHL’s General Managers recently wrapped up three days worth of meetings in Boca Raton, Florida, at which rule changes and other innovations to improve the game were suggested. Here at PITB, we were a little surprised to hear about Mike Gillis’s proposal, an initiative to outlaw hand-passing in the defensive zone.
It makes sense when you think about it, but the fact that the suggestion came from Mike Gillis, General Manager of the Vancouver Canucks, was strange. If anyone in the NHL was to suffer from this rule, it would be defensive specialist Manny Malhotra, who wins a great deal of faceoffs in his own zone by way of the hand pass. Why was Mike Gillis trying to spoil Manny Malhotra’s party?
As it turns out, it wasn’t solely about Malhotra. Gillis was trying to bring down the entire Canucks’ system from the inside — to bury his group in a sea of red tape and rule changes. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. But, considering Gillis continues to employ Alain Vigneault, despite the Canucks having only the second-best record in the Western Conference, it’s obvious he’s setting this group up to fail.
And now we have further proof. PITB has produced a very real, super authentic and totally not made up at all transcript of Gillis’s time on the floor, and Canuck fans should be thanking their lucky stars that most of these ideas were vetoed outright. What follows are 11 alarming excerpts from Mike Gillis’s speech:Continue Reading —›
Manny Malhotra has been much-maligned for his play this season. The defensively-minded centre is on pace for his lowest point total since 2002-03 and has been relegated to a fourth line role, drawing criticism over what some feel is a deserved demotion. Personally, I feel that the criticism ignores the unique role that Malhotra plays in the Canucks lineup. As Thomas Drance suggested, Manny Malhotra is the Penny to the Sedins’ Inspector Gadget: he plays the tough minutes so other Canucks don’t have to.
What everyone can agree on, however, is that Malhotra remains a faceoff wizard. Now, it seems, Mike Gillis wants to take even that away from him.Continue Reading —›
If your main source of Canucks news is Pass it to Bulis, you’re probably under the impression that the Canucks are incredibly witty, clever, and fond of silly jokes. After all, the Canucks give silly animal nicknames to each other, photoshop each other naked, and ruin each others’ interviews. Meanwhile, Kevin Bieksa is one of the best quotes in the NHL and Keith Ballard has unparalleled self-deprecating dry wit, and Roberto Luongo is surprisingly willing to joke around.
Since Alex Burrows and Maxim Lapierre are two of the best chirpers on the team, it would be completely understandable if you thought that all French Canadians are great at chirping. Unfortunately, Alain Vigneault proved that wrong.Continue Reading —›
One of the reasons NHL teams sign veteran players to Professional Tryout Offers (PTOs) is to give an unsigned free agent a chance to make the team, but this is not the only reason. For Mike Gillis, it’s likely not even the primary reason. Coming off the shortest off-season in team history, Gillis and Vigneault clearly had no interest in icing a lineup in either Calgary or Vancouver last night that bore any resemblance to the actual Canucks.Continue Reading —›
Some actual player personnel news in Canuckistan today, as the club announced the signing of Victor Oreskovich to a one-year, two-way contract worth $605,000 in the NHL and $105,000 in the AHL. Oreskovich was the last remaining free agent from the 2010-11 Vancouver Canucks.
Oreskovich, an RFA, received his qualifying offer at the end of June, at the same time as fellow RFAs Maxim Lapierre and Jannik Hansen. Lapierre re-signed immediately, and Hansen re-signed just one month later, but negotiations with the Oreskovich camp lasted the entire summer. Clearly, Oreskovich wanted a one-way deal and held out until just a week before the start of training camp in hopes of getting one. That he didn’t means this is a clear win for Mike Gillis.Continue Reading —›
Here’s an unfortunate incident that will likely cause you to shake your head: the Toronto Star has come under fire for an unfortunate error in their August 16 report on the passing of Rick Rypien in which they misquoted Gillis referring to Rypien — whose struggles with mental illness are now coming to light — as “crazy”.Continue Reading —›
Canucks news comes fast and furious, and sometimes we find ourselves playing catchup. Thankfully, the Dreaded Two Goal Lead–often called “the worst lead in hockey”–is super easy to come back from. Everybody knows it’s a guaranteed death sentence for those that hold it. Well, much like an ice hockey team coming from two goals down, PITB will now effortlessly catch up.Continue Reading —›
The NHL Awards are tonight and it’s an exciting time for Canucks fans as Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Roberto Luongo, Alain Vigneault, and Mike Gillis are all up for awards. It’s a fun time when all the hockey players dress up in fancy suits and take awkward red carpet photographs. Personally, I’d love to tune in and enjoy the show, but since Jay Mohr is hosting it, I won’t. I won’t enjoy it, so I won’t tune in. I know I will just get angry that they brought back the painfully unfunny Mohr for a second time hosting, when it appears that he doesn’t know anything about hockey. I’m sure he’s a nice enough guy (actually, I’m not sure of that at all, but I’ll assume), but it’s awkward hearing someone tell jokes about hockey when it seems like he doesn’t actually understand the jokes. Also, he’s terrible.
Did they ask anyone else to do it? Could they not think of anyone else to ask? Because I can think of a few people who would be better than Jay Mohr. Here are 10 better options:Continue Reading —›
When Mike Gillis was hired as the general manager of the Vancouver Canucks, he immediately expressed an agenda to build a organization with integrity and character throughout. He worked to change the culture inside the dressing room, seeking players with positive reputations and a commitment to community-building. Outside the dressing room, he did the same, stressing an organization that valued its players, and recognized and honoured the division between hockey and personal life. There is no greater example of this than the case of Manny Malhotra, whose devastating eye injury and subsequent recovery has been perfectly handled by the Canucks organization.Continue Reading —›
Almost every playoff-bound team makes minor moves and trades throughout the season, with the most significant usually made in the time leading up to the trade deadline. Each time looks to add that one missing piece that will push the team over the top. Each of the four teams remaining in the Stanley Cup playoffs made some significant mid-season moves that have helped carry the team to this point in the playoffs, but which GM improved their team the most?Continue Reading —›