This was to be the window of opportunity for the Vancouver Canucks. A time for the general manager to take advantage of a high draft position, more salary cap room, and endless trade possibilities.
This was to be the time for Dave Nonis to reconfigure the on-ice operation. It was his chance to cement his position as a shrewd judge of talent and position the Canucks among the leagues' elite.
Didn't quite work out the way, as you may have noticed.
Nonis was whacked right after the season ended, replaced by Mike Gillis who, while not new to the game, was a rookie when it came to the management side of things. It was considered a brave hire only because he didn't have experience as an executive.
But anybody who has played at the NHL level, won a legal battle with Alan Eagleson and carved out a successful career as an agent has decent credentials.
So what has he done in his brief tenure?
The body of work, at this writing, is incomplete, and may yet include Mats Sundin.
The signings of Kyle Wellwood, Darcy Hordichuk and Ryan Johnson will not spike the season ticket waiting list.
Steve Bernier might just blossom as the latest triplet. We'll have to wait and see on first round draft pick, Cody Hodgson, but by all accounts this was a good choice.
The front office moves include the hiring of Scott Mellanby, and Ryan Walter was added as an assistant coach.
There is a common denominator here. Intelligence.
Gillis likes the idea of people who can think. Seems like a pretty simple concept, but why gamble in a multi-million dollar industry with people who labour between the ears.
He is surrounding himself with people who know the game and can think the game.
He has Mellanby on a consulting basis and Walter as another set of eyes and ears for Alain Vigneault behind the bench.
Hodgson is said to be blessed with a high hockey IQ, as is Johnson. And Mats Sundin isn't destined for the Hall of Fame because he's an empty helmet. He might not be destined for Vancouver either, but Gillis has $20 million there for the taking if he opts to.
Bottom line, there has been a lot of angst among the Canuck faithful as they monitor the progress of their rookie GM.
On paper, they might not like what they see. I know it has been 38 years of frustration; 38 years without a parade.
But Mike Gillis isn't accountable for any of them. He is accountable for the next one. Judge him on that, but give him a chance in the interim.