The Pros and Consistency
When Mike Gillis was brought in as the 10th General Manager in franchise history back in 2008, there was much speculation on whether or not a former player agent could take on all the duties expected of an NHL GM.
People have vexingly repeated the names of all the players Gillis inherited from the likes of Brian Burke and Dave Nonis, but with today’s announcement that MG has signed a contract extension, the questioners and contemplators can quit their yapping.
Yes, Gillis was the proverbial orphan whose rich parents died in a car crash, hence leaving their son with two wonders of the world, commonly known as the Sedin twins.
Despite that fact, Gillis is one of three general managers in franchise history to direct his respective edition of the team to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Don’t be mistaken, GM’s have as much to do with putting together a winning season as the players on the ice and Mike Gillis’ extension with the Vancouver Canucks is a great thing.
When you look at teams who perpetually fail, one of the key problems they face is inconsistency. This bad habit can occur over one season and several seasons.
The common denominators are that your team doesn’t usually end up winning the Stanley Cup and the problem is like a virus that runs through the executives straight down to infecting the skaters.
Maybe all of Gillis’ moves haven’t been winning lottery tickets, but at least we can say he’s done more good than bad. While the Canucks are yet to win a Stanley Cup, they have progressively gotten better, and that’s thanks to Mike Gillis.
Bringing in a guy like Mats Sundin to mentor the twins & Ryan Kesler and then the acquisitions and re-signings of Chris Higgins and Maxim Lapierre long-term to securing a top six forward like David Booth; Gillis has had eagle eyes.
Another kick at the can will only be an opportunity for more progression.
The Franchise Precedent
As previously mentioned, Mike Gillis is in a group of just three general managers to take the Canucks to a Stanley Cup Final. The previous two were Pat Quinn and Jake Milford.
In 1982, the Canucks were swept by the Islanders in the Cup Final and upon the end of the season; Milford was promoted to Senior Vice-President. Harry Neale took over as GM and Milford died suddenly in 1984. The point being neither he or Neale were ever relieved of their duties following an elimination by Calgary 3-1 (best of 5 series) in the first round.
Neale was eventually fired in April 1985.
On the same wavelength, Arthur Griffiths felt it wasn’t Pat Quinn’s time to go following the 94-95 NHL season which saw the Canucks get swept in the 2nd round by Chicago. So why would you fire or not re-sign Mike Gillis? He has been more successful than all before him.
Dealing with Schtuff
There’s a lot to yet go down this off-season for the Vancouver Canucks and there is no one inside or outside the organization that has a better understanding everything currently and about to happen than Mike Gillis.
As a fan, why would I want some outsider coming in now and taking what are essentially guesses at preparing this hockey club for next season? This goes back to the consistency factor where the quandary is will the Canucks continue to be contenders for hockey’s Holy Grail in 2012-13?
Mike Gillis inherited a wack of assets and utilized them correctly while making this team better by adding pieces around what was already here.
While he has been such a huge part in leading this team to greatness, he also can’t control everything such as on-ice performance.
Mike Gillis has as much motivation to get this team where it can be as Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa. The man wants to be here. He has something to prove, even though he’s already taken the team to the SCF after just three seasons with the team. Gillis had this to say Monday:
“I am very pleased to be signing this extension to remain the President & General Manager of the Vancouver Canucks. I am proud of the work our entire organization has done these past four years and look forward to continuing to build on our success. We are driven every day to try and win the Stanley Cup and will continue to focus on being a strong organization both on and off of the ice.” [Press Release]
We want players to want to be here, so why shouldn’t it be the same for the position of General Manager?
Did I mention Consistency?
Oh yeah, Alain Vigneault!
Mike Gillis said Monday, “He’s [Vigneault] given every indication he wants to be back.”
This is a great thing because Alain Vigneault is one of the successfully contributing pawns in Mike Gillis’ 4 year long and running chess game to win the Stanley Cup. I look back on this past season for Vancouver and can deduce one thing: fatigue killed the Canucks.
It’s not meant to be an excuse. It’s just reality. I want the Nucks to win a Stanley Cup as much as the next person and I looked to Pittsburgh’s back to back finals appearance vs. Detroit as much as anyone did.
The stark, iron-clad, non-blue and green coloured picture screams fatigue as the #1 contributing factor to the Canucks fading away early.
It’s nothing to do with AV’s voice going stale and the players ignoring him.
They were tired throughout the season and while motivation to win in the playoffs should not be hard to come by, it’s understandable as a human observing other humans why they may have lacked that energy.
Gillis re-signing and his comments today indicate Vigneault will be back, which is a great thing for the 2012-2013 edition of the Vancouver Canucks.
Read my rip of Mike Gillis following the 2012 NHL Trade Deadline.