What a crazy few days in Canuckville. Mike Gillis is canned as the Canucks' President and General Manager and the next day Trevor Linden is named the new President. I was, in large part, a fan of Mike Gillis and still don't completely agree with the dismissal. I would like to have seen what he could do this coming draft and off-season. People name the Luongo and Schneider trades as his undoing and I don't agree with that. I think the situation was far more complicated than most think. I think that in the end he got good return in both trades and that those benefits will come to fruition in the near future. Luongo wanted out for a long time and I believe handcuffed Gillis on any trade out except to Florida, so Mike traded Schneider instead to draft Bo Horvat. We were lacking in prospects and he knew that. He had to re-stock the bare cupboard ASAP.
Gillis, with uber-limited cap space after the lockout, did manage to re-sign core players last summer who underperformed this season. I get how that looks bad on him, but hindsight is a bitch.
He also signed free agents Brad Richardson and Mike Santorelli, the latter whom, had he not blown his shoulder out and remained healthy, the Canucks would have made the playoffs.That's how good Santa was.
Then this gem from the Linden press conference today:
Aquilini: "Mike hired Tortarella and I'm responsible for that and that's why we have a change in direction today" #canucks— Farhan Lalji (@FarhanLaljiTSN) April 9, 2014
Ouch? If that isn't a vote of non-confidence on the former GM and the current coach I don't know what is.
Tortorella maintained his brave face in front of media on Wednesday:
Leave it to Farhan Lalji to ask the big question. And, of course, leave it to Torts to maintain honesty, which I think he has done all season. And also, leave it to Torts to protect the team and even Gillis in times like this. He takes the high road and I commend him for that. But in a results-driven business......those traits may not matter, because the Canucks sucked this season, and Tortorella gets some of the blame. It's intriguing that Gillis demands a more up-tempo style from Torts after the Canucks were eliminated from the playoffs yet Torts plays the classy card on Mike in the end.
Speaking of Torts and Gillis, a valuable piece of information was revealed on Wednesday. Via Jason Botchford:
Torts and Gilly have performance clauses in their contracts which likely means the severance payouts will be half the dollars which they have remaining.
After all this time of wondering if the ownership was willing to terminate 2 guys with 3 years left on their contracts at $2 million per year...now the possibility of firing both Gillis and Tortorella becomes even more possible from a dollar standpoint. But again, that's just me speculating. The Aquilini's are rich and I have no idea how willing they are to piss away their cash. More on that later. Let's get to some tweets and quotes.
Jason Botchford's The Van Provies was GOLD on Wednesday. Some excerpts:
The Prez says he’s waiting until after the season to have a sit down with the coach who has presided over a season that played out like many feared Y2k would.
It’s believed, however, the Torts decision has already been made, and he could be gone as soon as Monday.
The "whose idea was it to hire Tortorella?" debate has become the most nauseating question since "what did you think of the Sopranos finale?" except this one has libel suits.
It’s outrageous that it’s April, ten months after Torts was hired, and no believes they are ever getting a straight answer.
The question cuts right to the core of two of the major players here. If Aquilini hired Torts, it enhances his image of the over-zealous, meddling fanboy with too much money who flew to Phoenix to participate in the team’s war room on trade deadline day. A scene he said made him "crazy."
Maybe he should stay in Van and let the hockey guys handle the "crazy" days.
If Gilly hired Torts, well, that’s just as troubling. Here is a manager who mocked Torts-type hockey routinely, calling it six guys playing goalie. Here is a manager whose own core principles are centred around uptempo, attacking, quick transition, puck possession hockey.
Both Linden and Aquilini stressed "autonomy" for Linden's role on Wednesday. Believe what you will.
Rollie Melanson is coming back and is expecting to wrap up his extension shortly. That leads to a scenario where the starting goalies next year are the two goalies who are here now.
I am not worried about that possibility / likelihood.
Oh but there is so much more....like TSN's James Duthie telling a Gillis / Aquilini story about the 2011 Finals and arrogance (start at the 13:09 mark), more management controversies, Linden's thought on stat analytics and more.
"I fully recognize what I am getting into. I know this market is passionate about the game."
Some worry that Linden's oh-so sacred image could be tarnished if he accepted a job in Canucks' management, but really, he's the President. He will hire a general manager of his choice and if the team flunks under that GM's tenure does Linden's rep get tarnished? Nope. The GM's image does primarily.
Congratulations to my old teammate and friend @trevor_linden It's his time, he's ready. @VanCanucks #solidhire #hesgoingtomisshisskitouring— Willie Mitchell (@Willie_Mitch33) April 9, 2014
The hiring of Linden, easily the most loved figure in franchise history, is so wildly popular the Canucks immediately pushed back to next Thursday the deadline for season-ticket renewals. This gives the many ticket subscribers waffling at renewing after this dreadful season, eight more days to digest the change from fired general manager Mike Gillis to Linden. -Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun
Linden's father told MacIntyre:
"He may have the effect of selling tickets, but from Trev's part, he's there to do a job. He didn't finish it with a Stanley Cup ring with the Canucks in 1994, but that objective is still front and centre. He may not get it in a year. It may take a long time. But by the end, he'll get that job done, too."