Press Round-Up: APR.16.08
Elliott Pap crunched the numbers and came up with a list of things former Canucks general manager Dave Nonis did well and not so well, and what Vancouver’s prospective new GM must do to be successful. He also names five potential suitors to take over the position.
He said the Roberto Luongo trade, signing Willie Mitchell and Alex Burrows, keeping Ryan Kesler and drafting Alex Edler were all moves that Nonis made that have benefited the Canucks, and that will continue to do so into the future.
“Alex who? That's what everyone was asking at the 2004 draft when the Canucks took the lanky Swede in the third round. Edler had almost no pedigree but he played as well as any first-round pick in 2007-08 until he sagged down the stretch like the rest of his teammates.”
Pap believes that Nonis could have been better in a few areas, including addressing the team’s scoring woes and adding some depth at centre. Taking Luc Bourdon over Anze Kopitar in the 2005 NHL draft was also a blunder, says Pap, as was the signing of free agent Marc Chouinard, who turned out to be a bust. He also mentions that Nonis’ inability to find another Anson Carter – someone who can get the best out of the Sedin twins – was hurtful to the team.
“Nonis looked golden two seasons ago for his signing of Anson Carter, who meshed beautifully with the Sedin twins. Since then, there has been a revolving door on the twins' right side, even though the brothers posted their best two seasons. Imagine what they could have done with a regular linemate suited to their style.”
Finding some offence is at the top of his list for what a new GM must do as soon as they get to Vancouver, which is closely followed with developing better lines of communication with star netminder Roberto Luongo. Settling on a playing style, do we want to play like Detroit or Anaheim?, is crucial and Pap also believes cutting ties with longtime Canuck Markus Naslund is something that has to be done, as is resisting the urge to se-sign the Sedins to a contract extension this summer.
“The twins have another year before they become free agents. Who knows which way their careers will go? Wait until Christmas. See what they're doing. Maybe it will cost more if they are having fabulous campaigns, but that's better than rushing into a big deal and then getting saddled with albatross contracts down the road.”
The five gentlemen Pap believes deserves consideration to become the new GM include: Jim Nill, assistant GM, Detroit Red Wings, Bob Murray, vice-president of hockey operations, Doug Armstrong, former GM, Dallas Stars, Neil Smith, former GM, New York Rangers and Steve Tambellini, assistant GM, Vancouver Canucks.
Here’s what he had to say about Tambellini filling the post: “If the Aquilinis want some continuity -- which doesn't appear to be the case -- then Tamby is their man. He's spent 17 years with the organization and knows it inside out. He's had success running teams for Hockey Canada. But would he really turn the ship in another direction after he's been so much a part of charting its course?”
“There's also the consideration that Arniel will have a new boss in the near future when the GM position is filled in Vancouver. Whoever takes over in Vancouver will want to appoint his own people in key hockey positions and Arniel might be in the line of fire. Security is tough to get in coaching, but championships usually take care of job worries.
“Last season saw Arniel move from assistant coach to top dog and he led the Moose to a 100-point season and a first-round playoff win before Carey Price and the Hamilton Bulldogs put an end to things. “Arniel spent time with the Moose as an assistant coach as well as working under Lindy Ruff with the Buffalo Sabres, but making the move to head coach always brings the unexpected.”
Lawless says that Arniel will garner more attention if the Moose, who open the Calder Cup playoffs against the Syracuse Crunch on Friday, make a deep run into the playoffs.
“There's no secret coaches that win have opportunities,” Arniel told Lawless. “Right now I'm not thinking about anything like that. It's flattering to hear sometimes but we're all here to get to the next level. I'm not sure when my time will be. But a nice playoff run would help.”
Jim Jamieson believes that the loss of Nonis will affect highly touted Swedish forward Fabian Brunnstrom, who, according to reports, was leaning towards signing a free agent contract with the Canucks in the near future.
“Nonis and the Canucks were very close to getting the 23-year-old winger's name on an NHL contract, but the process has been put on hold in the wake of Nonis's dismissal on Monday.
“Brunnstrom's Calgary-based agent J.P. Barry of CAA Sports said Tuesday in an interview with The Province that his client would be re-evaluating the offers made to him by the "six or seven" teams that made the short list of the approximately 20 that originally expressed interest in the late-blooming Brunnstrom, who was never drafted.”
Brunnstrom’s agent confirmed that he and his client are taking a weary step back to re-evaluate what’s in their best interest. They had established a relationship with Nonis and now that he is no longer with the organization, they aren’t sure what direction the Canucks are heading in.
"He'd have to discuss the opportunity again and know that the person he's discussing it with is going to be involved in following through," Barry told Jamieson. "It often comes down to the direction of the team."
“Besides Vancouver, the serious contenders for Brunnstrom are known to be Detroit, Toronto, Philadelphia and Anaheim.
“Detroit general manager Ken Holland said Tuesday -- a day after saying his team was out of the running -- that he had spoken with Barry and that the Red Wings are very interested again.
“Brunnstrom would sign a two-year entry level contract for $875,000 that could escalate to $2 million when bonuses are applied.”
Iain MacIntyre got Trevor Linden’s thoughts on the replacement of Nonis as general manager, and the Canucks fan favourite said he would have done everything Nonis did.
Linden told MacIntyre: "I think it takes someone with a very strong will to be in this market because you can't worry about what would make you popular for one day," Linden said Tuesday, the day after Nonis was fired by Canuck owner Francesco Aquilini. "What I liked about Dave is he didn't give in to what would make him popular. I think he has a good understanding of what it takes to build a good team.
"So I am surprised [at the dismissal] because I thought -- and still think -- Dave had a good vision on how to build a team the right way."
Linden laughed when asked if he would consider a management role with the team. Many believe the longtime Canuck will retire this off-season.
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