No laughing matter for Gillis

HOSEA CHEUNG, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:09 AM ET

Let's not tar and feather Mike Gillis just yet. At least he's on the right track.

While the Canucks season still feels like a failure one week removed from their second straight second-round loss to the Blackhawks, the boss wasn't that far off last Friday when he said the team made significant strides.

When Gillis stepped in as GM of the defensive-minded squad two years ago, he wanted Vancouver to implement a more offensive style.

He then turned a team which scored 207 goals (23rd overall) in 2007-08 to one that had 268 (second overall) this past season.

"I'm really happy with the fact that our team scores goals," said Gillis. "Our coaching staff has adopted a philosophy of offence and high speed and capitalizing on turnovers which is where I think the league is going."

That's where the positivity ends.

Despite the offensive weapons up front, the Canucks couldn't outscore the constant lapses and mistakes made by their inferior defence.

Blaming Roberto Luongo or injuries - especially to Willie Mitchell - is just a blind excuse for the glaring blueline problems, ones which must be fixed come September.

Vancouver allowed 30.9 shots per game, an average of 3.42 goals against, and was dead last on the penalty kill in the playoffs. The defence could not handle the speed and size of Chicago - and even L.A. at times - and took 86 of the team's 169 penalty minutes along the way. Simply put, they just aren't good enough.

The Canucks management staff must re-evaluate and re-construct the back end this off-season, and not with one of those petty depth additions.

This team needs to make drastic personnel changes, especially to the top four, whether through trade or free agency. D-men with contracts through next season includes Kevin Bieksa, Sami Salo, Alex Edler, Christian Ehrhoff, and Andrew Alberts - five of the six blueliners who failed to handle Chicago. The sixth, Shane O'Brien, is set to become a restricted free agent.

Trying to pass along this current top-six unit as championship material is laughable.

And needless to say, it's definitely not an offseason for Gillis to start cracking jokes.


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