On March 4th we suggested Mike Gillis had officially run out of places to hide. A little over a month later - with the Canucks going a paltry 7-9 and having their playoff hopes dashed for the first time in five seasons - Francesco Aquilini wasted little time, firing his general manager who came aboard in 2008:
"On behalf of my entire family, I would like to sincerely thank Mike Gillis for his hard work and the many contributions he made on and off the ice during his tenure," said Francesco Aquilini, Chairman, Canucks Sports & Entertainment. "The Vancouver Canucks had success under Mike's leadership, and we nearly reached our ultimate goal; but I believe we have reached a point where a change in leadership and new voice is needed."
"I also want to thank our fans for their support for the Vancouver Canucks through a difficult and frustrating season," continued Aquilini. "We haven’t met their expectations or ours. We are committed to bringing the Stanley Cup to Vancouver for our fans and we will continue to do everything possible to reach that goal."
The fact this organization enters another early spring demanding the need for a "new voice" (wasn't that why Vigneault was shown the door?) hints at how far off course they've strayed.
Like his 29 other peers, Mike Gillis did plenty right and plenty wrong. The Cup run in 2011 couldn't have happened without his complimentary moves to the team's core (Ehrhoff, Hamhuis, Tanev, Malhotra to name a few) and, as many online fans will tell you, had the Canucks won Game 7 Gillis could have signed his mother to a long-term goalie deal and no one would have batted an eye.
Since 2011 the Canucks haven't come close to regaining its footing as an elite squad and haven't punched past the first round of the playoffs, going 1-8 the past two springs. As the core of the team has aged, they weren't surrounded with anywhere near the correct talent to succeed, much less compete in the very stacked Pacific Division. Even if you ignore the questionable Luongo and Schneider trade returns, the magnitude of the suck that is Vancouver Canucks 2013-14 hockey ultimately doomed him.
This isn't to say Gillis couldn't have made some moves this summer to right the wrongs, but you only need to glance over at Calgary or Edmonton to realize the immediate danger this franchise is facing: seasons of mediocrity, selling off high-priced talent for short-term results, all without solid hockey minds in place to regroup and plan appropriately. I can't imagine Aquilini would make this move this quickly without another chief in mind, the most recent whispers being fan favorite Trevor Linden (a claim #16 has since denied). Whoever it is has a hell of a mountain trek ahead of him (or her!) to climb. Consider this the first of a few painful moves ahead.
Best of luck in your future endeavors Mr. Gillis. Whenever I think of biorhythm bracelets, I'll think of you.