The Big Kahuna
First of all, it was an outstandingly entertaining game on the ice.
There were thunderous hits, some great skill and plenty of drama with all the stick work, fighting and cheap shots.
Off the ice, there was wall to wall coverage analysis in the media and the web (with likely a lot of drinking to calm nerves of fans in the early hours of the day on the West Coast).
The Vancouver players and the coaching staff all did their jobs very well at ice level. Looking down on the game from the rafters of the TD Garden was the current Canucks architect, GM Mike Gillis and his fingerprints were all over this game in many ways.
Gillis has endorsed an increasingly scientific approach to game preparation borne of nutritionists, sleep specialists and other experts, and they did their part effectively in getting the team ready for the early start.
Several of the players acquired by the Canuck’s general manager also made an impact.
In a short period of time Gillis has worked feverishly to turn the team into not just a one year wonder, but a long term power in the Red Wings mold.
Where does this put him on the list of Vancouver Canucks general manager greats?
Let’s take a look in reverse order.
Norman ‘Bud’ Poile was the first ever Canucks GM when the team entered the NHL in 1970.
Though the team took four years to make the playoffs, he selected some good players in the entry draft (with Dale Tallon, Dennis Ververgaert, Don Lever), and also in the expansion draft (Orland Kurtenbach) to build a good core of talent.
Pat Quinn began his Canucks tenure as the GM, before additionally taking on the coaching eventually, and acquired Greg Adams and Kirk McLean in a trade with the Devils. He also selected Trevor Linden and Pavel Bure. These moves were vital to the Canucks Stanley Cup 1994 fantasy run.
However, in later years many of Quinn’s draft picks failed to pan out and many of his relationships with players and management deteriorated drastically.
Mike Gillis, as mentioned above, has revamped the professionalism of the team, and he has worked ceaselessly to identify team needs for long term success.
Another huge playoff run and he vaults to the top of this list.
For now, Brian Burke sits atop the heap as the best Vancouver GM.
He reinvigorated the team from the mess of the Mike Keenan era and improved the team’s relationship with its fans.
He also picked well, finding Ryan Kesler and engineering the impressive back to back selections of Daniel and Henrik Sedin. He also put the team in place to re-enter the playoffs where they won for the first time in eight years.
Much of the present team’s fortune still hearkens back to the insightful moves of Burke.
How the bout quotes he left us with as well. Moments In Time…