The Vancouver Canucks today announced the firing of general manager Mike Gillis. No word yet as to his replacement.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I have to admit I’m a bit surprised, as I expected head coach John Tortorella would be the one getting his walking papers. Haven’t heard yet if Tortorella will also be replaced, but I daresay this could mean he’ll return next season.
Gillis took over a Canucks club built by Brian Burke and Dave Nonis and initially did a good job of retaining their top players,. That led to two consecutive President’s Trophies and a trip to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. Unfortunately, the wheels fell off soon afterward.
He gave up draft picks and prospects for quick-fix deals, badly handled his efforts to shop Roberto Luongo, and when he couldn’t initially find takers for Luongo shipped out goalie Cory Schneider to New Jersey for a first round pick. The return he eventually got for Luongo from the Florida Panthers did little to improve their fortunes. With an ageing core of talent and a lack of skilled depth at forward, the Canucks fell apart in the second half, especially as injuries took its toll. Only three years after coming within one game of winning the Stanley Cup, the Canucks will miss the playoffs in 2014.
There’s talk of Trevor Linden stepping in as general manager but he recently denied rumors he would be hired as team president. I believe the Canucks would be better off finding a general manager who can work with Tortorella, which means the roster could see significant change.