Press Round-Up: APR.23.08
“Gillis, a NHL player agent who has represented stars like Pavel Bure and Bobby Holik, will be named the general manager of the Vancouver Canucks, a source told The Canadian Press Tuesday night. Gillis, 49, will replace Dave Nonis, who was fired last week. He is charged with the job of rebuilding a Northwest Division team that has missed the playoffs twice in the last three years.”
One of the biggest questions facing the new GM will be whether or not he keeps current Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault in the fold. A decision is expected sooner rather than later. Gillis will also have to decide if resigning Markus Naslund is a priority for the team, and what other off-season moves Vancouver is going to make.
“The Canucks will have about $20 million in salary cap room this season. It's expected owner Francesco Aquilini will want the new general manager to add some offensive punch to a team that relied heavily on the goaltending of Roberto Luongo last season and a solid defence.
“If Vancouver doesn't sign free agents, the new GM could go the trade route. The Canucks could made a deal involving young players like defencemen Alex Edler or Luc Bourdon, or forwards Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler.
“The Canucks have played before soldout crowds the last several seasons at GM Place but the team plays a grinding, defensive style. Fans will tolerate the tedium if the team is winning but there are concerns the crowds could begin to diminish if the Canuck fortunes didn't improve.”
Mike Gillis won't be in his new job long before he hears starts hearing questions about Fabian Brunnstrom, according to Jim Jamieson.
"The 6-foot-1, 205-pound winger has been the focus of a media frenzy since his imminent signing with the Canucks was short-circuited nine days ago with the dismissal of GM Dave Nonis.
"The competition was reportedly down to Vancouver and Detroit, with Brunnstrom choosing the Canucks because they had offered him a chance to play with countrymen Daniel and Henrik Sedin and guaranteed he'd be on the NHL roster the whole season. The Red Wings, much deeper at forward, were only willing to offer Brunnstrom a one-month NHL guarantee, wherein he'd have to prove he belonged at that level.
"With the Vancouver offer in limbo until a new GM is appointed, Toronto, Ottawa, Boston and Dallas have joined Detroit in a renewed hunt for Brunnstrom.
"Gillis must decide whether he shares the same regard for the 23-year-old Brunnstrom -- who had nine goals and 37 points in 54 games for Farjestads for the Swedish Elite League this past season.?Brunnstrom would sign a two-year entry-level contract for $875,000 per season, but that could reportedly escalate to $2 million when bonuses are applied.
"Gillis must decide whether Brunnstrom is worth that kind of money and up-front commitment to playing time."
It's a tough decision that will garner criticism either way, but according to former Canucks tough guy Lee Goren, Brunnstrom may not be worth the hype.
"To be honest, I don't remember playing against him," Goren told Jamieson, in reference to playing against him on a few occasions in Europe. "I know [Brunnstrom] wore No. 96, but other than that I really couldn't tell you what kind of player he was.
"I can't make a fair assessment [of Brunnstrom]," said Goren, 30. "I didn't notice him until I heard he was making all these [contract] demands and then after the fact I really still didn't notice him. I'm not saying he's not a good player, but he wasn't a guy who stood out and I paid attention to."
"And he is a bright, aggressive, successful player agent who has never made a trade, never drafted a player, never worked in management or built a hockey department or done anything for a National Hockey League team except play.
"This isn't to say Gillis won't be a good general manager for the Canucks. But he is certainly not a mainstream pick and represents a bold -- and uncertain -- new direction for an organization still trying to win its first Stanley Cup 38 years after joining the NHL."
Despite belief that the Aquilinis were interested in such names as Bob Murray, David McNab and Jim Nill, the fact that they hired someone so quickly after relieving Dave Nonis shows that they were always smitten with Gillis.
"Gillis was the Aquilinis' guy all along. Much of the evidence can be found in Francesco's inner counsel, which includes ex-Canuck Geoff Courtnall, close friends with the owner and the new general manager.
"And there's nothing wrong with having your guy. Most teams, in fact, can't function without a cohesiveness and uniformity in beliefs from the top down. But everyone in the Canuck organization except Aquilini believed in Nonis and what he was doing, and that now becomes a serious dilemma for Gillis.
"Presumably, there are profound personnel changes ahead for the Canucks, beginning with the coaching staff and the senior people in hockey operations. Or else why hire a GM who represents a seismic shift in thinking for the franchise?"
Ben Kuzma got an honest reaction from NHL player agent Kurt Overhardt over the rumored hiring of Mike Gillis as general manger of the Canucks.
"Wow," said Overhardt, the Denver-based player agent for Ryan Kesler, Kevin Bieksa and Brendan Morrison.
"As a former player and former player agent, who had a successful group of clients, Mike definitely has a unique insight into the needs of the players. Obviously, as agents, one of our jobs is to balance the needs of the players to fit the needs of each club.
"Now, Mike gets to do that on the other side. It's reverse role playing and with that he's got the added twist of working with a cap system. It will be interesting to see the comparisons between how this administration is run compared to the old administration."
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