(This post is part of a fundraiser for 826 Boston, a non-profit tutoring and writing center. For $50, readers can get me to write anything about hockey they want, so donate today to make me say stuff by clicking here. I probably don’t believe the nonsense below, which was requested by Chris Cowan.)
I don’t, in general, think Mike Gillis is a bad general manager. I really don’t. I know the Canucks are a tire fire right now and I know they’re not going to get better any time soon and I know he had very little or even nothing to do with acquiring the recent core of this team. He didn’t acquire Cory Schneider, or Alex Edler, or the Sedin twins, or Alex Burrows, or Roberto Luongo, or Kevin Bieksa, or Ryan Kesler. He acquired Dan Hamhuis and Chris Tanev, and that’s pretty much it, if memory serves.
But the thing that makes me think he’s not a bad general manager is that he was able to keep such together, pretty successfully, for a decent enough period of time. They won the league twice, then almost won a Stanley Cup. Most everyone was on affordable contracts (and only Luongo’s really and truly flew in the face of the CBA as it existed at that time). This was a team that looked like it could have succeeded for quite a while longer.
But then Ryan Kesler started spending half the season on the IR, and the protracted goaltender drama got seriously under way, and about 18 months later, it all fell apart. I’m not sure any general manager could have straightened things out given that this result also seemed at least somewhat inexorable. But I bet a lot of them could have at least handled it a lot better.
Okay, sure, you gotta fire Alain Vigneault after you let him piss off both of your goaltenders. That makes sense. But to replace him with John Tortorella was risky to start with, and disastrous in retrospect. It essentially necessitated the blowing-up of a team that should have at least been competitive in the Western Conference playoff picture (though not the Stanley Cup conversation) for another few seasons at least while the Sedins aged out of their supreme usefulness.
Now it’s turned to ash. I know a lot of pundits are preaching patience, but it seems to me he has to go. That’s the only real solution. He’s essentially responsible for accelerating the descent into mediocrity or worse, and bringing in a coach whose approach to the game was so antithetical to what made the Canucks so successful these last few years that it predictably led to his having lost the room in, what, four months?
I might have overstated things when I said a week or so ago that the Schneider trade is effectively what is going to cost him his job. It’s probably the biggest thing — because if he doesn’t, the goaltending tandem for next season absolutely isn’t Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom — but there are so many little things he’s done wrong (like drafting never-will-be players by the boatload) and making frankly bizarre trades that the cumulative effect essentially buried the franchise he oversees.
The Canucks are bad, he’s the biggest reason why, and that’s gotta just about enough reason for anyone at this point.
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