Canucks GM Mike Gillis prepared to hit 'reset button'
HOSEA CHEUNG, QMI Agency
|Canucks general manager Mike Gillis had plenty to say Thursday in his year-end press conference, including a need to hit the reset button on the team. (REUTERS)
VANCOUVER - There were no firings or any major announcements by the Vancouver Canucks Thursday. It wasn’t time for that just yet.
As Mike Gillis faced the media in his season-end press conference, the general manager instead stressed the need to do a thorough review — from top to bottom — before making any “significant changes” after another frustrating and underachieving season.
“Five years ago we came in here and reset this organization. It’s time to do it again,” Gillis said. “I don’t think anybody in this organization is going to be immune to the reviews or to the changes that may come.
“We’re going to have to re-invent ourselves and do things differently.”
What the club has been doing during the past two seasons obviously isn’t working. Despite regular season success with Presidents’ Trophies and Northwest Division titles, the Canucks were routed in the first round for the second straight season, having won just one playoff game out of nine over the past two years.
Their recent sweep by the San Jose Sharks is more than enough reason for Vancouver to stop with their status quo approach and make some drastic moves. But it’ll take time.
“Most of you know I don’t make decisions based on immediate emotion or pressure,” Gillis said. “We need to improve and we need to get different and we’re going to do that.”
Throughout his near 40-minute address, his reasoning for how the season turned out ranged from the limitations due to a lockout-shortened season to the number of injuries to even how the media played a role in the team’s reputation when it came to officiating in the playoffs. He added there were some difficulties in moving players at the trade deadline while the team also didn’t get enough breaks in the post-season.
“This was such a messed up season from start to finish,” he said. “Our ability to do things in this messed up season was limited and hindered by a lot of factors. For various reasons, it wasn’t to our satisfaction and we needed to do better.”
But at least there are a few certainties for Gillis moving forward.
“We are going to have to get younger in this league,” he said. “The cap is going down by 10%, we have to have young players in the system. We don’t have the luxury of letting them cook in the minors so to speak for a significant period of time. We don’t have a choice.”
The team also wants to get bigger — an issue they’ve been trying to address after they were manhandled in the Stanley Cup final two years ago against the Boston Bruins.
“When I took this job, we decided on a style of play that resulted in great success,” Gillis said. “Clearly the landscape has changed and we have to address those changes moving forward.
“It’s my intention to do it and recognize what’s going on, and make sure we have a team that’s better equipped.”
That doesn’t mean he’s planning to overhaul his core group though — with so many players under long-term contracts and fitted with a no-trade clause. Instead, Gillis noted it’s about supplementing them. Even so, bold moves are going to have to be made.
“I’m not afraid of making decisions in this business,” he said.
His first big one now will likely be what happens with coach Alain Vigneault. The plan was to meet with the bench boss Thursday afternoon for the first time since the team’s season-ending loss Tuesday. And with one year remaining on Vigneault’s contract, the question is, will he get the boot?
“If you’re looking for an answer as to what were going to do today, I’m not going to give it to you,” Gillis said. “We’re going to review everything that we do here. We’re going to hit the reset button on a number of different fronts.”