Late Afternoon Headshots: May 28th

Thomas Drance
May 28 2013 06:06PM


Via Chloe Ezra, the ultimate "Edler controversy" .gif.

It was a rainy day in Vancouver, but a sunny day at Canucks Army where we discussed Anton Rödin's decision to eschew North American hockey in favour of a return to the Swedish Elite League, continued on with our coaching profile series by taking a look at Toronto Marlies bench boss Dallas Eakins, had a complete epiphany when we realized that Dustin Brown grew up a Canucks fan, and talked briefly about Lindy Ruff, a guy who isn't a candidate for the head-coaching position in Vancouver.

More Canucks news and goodies after the jump.

Over at the Legion of Blog, Jordan Bowman lists ten fictional coaches who could be an excellent fit behind Vancouver's bench. I'm not big on Gordon Bombay, who is massively overrated, but I'm down with Coach Taylor. My only Coach Taylor related reservation is that he'll occassionally hire a likable former player as an assistant coach for a two episode arc, and that player will show some promise as a tactician and teacher, but just when you're getting excited about the plot line Jason Street decides he needs to sell insurance instead, or something similarly stupid. Why does Coach Taylor suck so much at retaining his assistants? Seems like a character flaw, if you ask me. [Legion of Blog]

Elliot Pap catches up with Laurence Gilman who is in Toronto for the scouting combine with a dozen or so other Canucks scouts and other development personnel, all of whom should lose their job said Tony Gallagher. [Puck World]

During the slower news days in the summer months, Rick Dhaliwal and the News1130 Sports team are a constant source of against the grain Canucks related news reports. Today we learned from the @News1130Sports account that Chris Tanev hasn't been cleared by Canucks doctors yet but that hasn't stopped him from beginning some low intensity training with Gary Roberts. Meanwhile the Canucks and Chris Tanev are no closer to an extension apparently, though Tanev is the only restricted free-agent (or unrestricted free-agent) whom the Canucks have even spoken with as they're rather preoccupied with their AHL kerfuffle and that pesky head coaching search. [@News1130Sports]

In other "young roster player" injury news, Jordan Schroeder's is looking ahead to a long summer of recovery after successful shoulder labrum surgery. [The Province]

Harrison Mooney riffs on Dustin Brown's Canucks fandom, Jannik Hansen as Rick Flair, and Canucks highlights with all of the goals against removed. [Pass it to Bulis]

Tightly argued piece from Rob the Hockey Guy who points out that while Mike Gillis inherited most of Vancouver's core, so did pretty much every other successful National Hockey League General Manager since the dawn of time, pretty much. [Rob the Hockey Guy]

Blake Murphy analyzes Alex Edler's odd campaign as part of a gruesome sounding "player autopsy" series over a Nucksmisconduct. [Nucksmisconduct]

J.D. Burke lists ten possible candidates to fill Vancouver's head coaching vacancy, and raises some interesting points about Guy Boucher being kind of a guy who should be considered perhaps. [We've Got Twins]

Finally Jason Botchford passes along some news. Apparently the Canucks and Dallas Eakins have already begun their interview process, a process which knowing the Canucks is sure to last until the day of the NHL Draft. [The Province]

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 NM00
May 28 2013, 06:40PM
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The entire Rob the Hockey Guy article is just one big strawman.

Of course, every GM inherits some pieces. The argument against Gillis is that he has done a terrible job of supplementing the core he inherited with poor drafting, trading and free agent signings.

For starters, take a look around the league. Most big market cap teams are able to keep their best players if they choose to do so. It's the reason there is very little supply and a large demand in free agency. This isn't much of a skill. Just look at the history of the Canucks since Burke brought the team back to respectability. They have almost always kept the core players they wanted to keep.

Any Canuck GM could have resigned these core players. The Sedins, for example, likely would have been extended 11 months earlier to a cheaper contract if Dave Nonis were still in charge. And let's not forget that Gillis got damn lucky that Mats Sundin opted for a one year deal instead of a two year deal. If Sundin accepted Gillis' two year offer, the Sedins would be elsewhere.

And let's not ignore the dumb contract Gillis gave to Luongo, either.

Second, the only two current core Canuck players acquired by Gillis are BC born defenseman Dan Hamhuis & Jason Garrison. Hamhuis, for example, took a large discount to play in his home province. Again, this is not a skill. This is a geographical advantage similar to the one the Canucks had with Willie Mitchell.

The other core player Gillis acquired was Christian Ehrhoff. A great trade that provided excellent value for two years. But it doesn't exactly make up for a number of other poor trades (Bernier, Alberts, Ballard, Kassian & Roy).

The only defense of Gillis is if one believes the GM has magical powers to influence the win-loss record. But if Gillis is such a wizard, he would have thrown fairy dust on the Canucks to get them more than one playoff win over the last 2 years.

Gillis has a terrible transaction record. Period. He inherited a great core and has done a terrible job of supplementing it.

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#2 orcasfan
May 28 2013, 07:34PM
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I don't know how many times I've heard the mantra about Gillis inheriting such a great core. If that core was so "great" why was their playoff performance not up to par? Actually, it 's not a question of whether Gillis got lucky, or not. Really, the one person responsible for taking the core that he "inherited" and developing them into contenders was AV.

It was under AV's system and tutelage that the twins were able to reach their peaks, that Kesler was able to become the Selke trophy winner, that Burrows realized his true potential as a great 2-way player, that Manny was given a role perfect for him, and that most of the D had career seasons. So, forget this "thanking" of Nonis/Burke. Their regimes were filled with many disasters, in drafting, in trades. The real hero of the success of this franchise over the past 6 years or so is coach V!

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#3 NM00
May 28 2013, 08:08PM
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@orcasfan

Do you actually think AV has the ability to mold any random guy into an impact NHL player?

I have nothing against AV. But if he were such a wizard I assume the Canucks would have more than one playoff win in the last two years.

A coach is bound by the talent that management gives him. Has AV gotten the most out of these players? That's certainly debatable.

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#4 Lemming
May 28 2013, 11:39PM
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I think Gillis did an excellent job of supplementing the core at times. NM00, you're guilty of wearing glasses of a certain tint way more than other people.

When the Canucks went to the cup? Torres, Malhotra, Higgins, Lapierre, Hamhuis; all players Gillis brought in to "supplement" the core. As the Canucks made their trip to the finals, they were billed as a team with lots of depth. Don't come on here and spew garbage about how the players Gillis inherited were never supported: they clearly, demonstrably were. It's not Gillis' fault Kesler has been a gimp for the past couple of seasons, easily the biggest hampering factor for the whole team.

I think he's made some questionable trades too (I still lament the Grabner trade, what most people refer to as the Ballard trade). But these attempts by armchair owners to try to make it a black and white issue are pointless.

Go back and play your NHL 13 or whatever, this is real life where there's only shades of grey. You bring up some good points and then drown yourself out with your next breath.

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#5 Matt
May 28 2013, 11:45PM
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This argument is ridiculous. Gillis "inhereted" a team that missed the playoffs, and turned it into a team that won the President's Trophy and went to Game 7 of the Cup Finals (and would have won if it weren't for injuries, luck, and Tim Thomas) in two years, by adding retaining the great players he inherited and building around them with players like Ehrhoff, Hamhuis, Malhotra, Samuelsson, and others.

It's Gillis's team, and they've accomplished a lot. Ten teams have been to the Stanley Cup Finals since he took over, and four teams have Presidents Trophies. This "Gillis just sat on Burke/Nonis's team" nonsense is just that - complete nonsense.

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#6 Matt
May 28 2013, 11:45PM
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That "adding" shouldn't be there.

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#7 UkeeRob
May 29 2013, 10:29AM
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@Matt

I agree. The problem now is he has to do it again with little to no money because of the cap problem. Hopefully Gilman can work some magic with the numbers.

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#8 Unknown Comic
May 29 2013, 11:05AM
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Lemming wrote:

I think Gillis did an excellent job of supplementing the core at times. NM00, you're guilty of wearing glasses of a certain tint way more than other people.

When the Canucks went to the cup? Torres, Malhotra, Higgins, Lapierre, Hamhuis; all players Gillis brought in to "supplement" the core. As the Canucks made their trip to the finals, they were billed as a team with lots of depth. Don't come on here and spew garbage about how the players Gillis inherited were never supported: they clearly, demonstrably were. It's not Gillis' fault Kesler has been a gimp for the past couple of seasons, easily the biggest hampering factor for the whole team.

I think he's made some questionable trades too (I still lament the Grabner trade, what most people refer to as the Ballard trade). But these attempts by armchair owners to try to make it a black and white issue are pointless.

Go back and play your NHL 13 or whatever, this is real life where there's only shades of grey. You bring up some good points and then drown yourself out with your next breath.

But your argument doesn't make Joe Average fan who doesn't understand variance or how small sample playoffs work, feel any better. What makes him feel good is to blast the GM with hindsight info. This gets all the frustrations out.

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#9 NM00
May 29 2013, 12:22PM
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@Lemming

Why is the only year that counts the year the Canucks made the finals?

Gillis has five seasons of work. Cherrypicking one season seems willfully ignorant.

Ehrhoff & Hamhuis were a part of the core during the cup run. Nobody is disputing that. But the other core players Sedins, Kesler, Burrows, Salo, Bieksa, Edler & Lou were brought into the organization by the previous GM.

After 5 years, I don't know how anyone could paint Gillis' transaction history as even average. Poor drafting/trading and average free agent signings.

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#10 NM00
May 29 2013, 12:25PM
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Matt wrote:

This argument is ridiculous. Gillis "inhereted" a team that missed the playoffs, and turned it into a team that won the President's Trophy and went to Game 7 of the Cup Finals (and would have won if it weren't for injuries, luck, and Tim Thomas) in two years, by adding retaining the great players he inherited and building around them with players like Ehrhoff, Hamhuis, Malhotra, Samuelsson, and others.

It's Gillis's team, and they've accomplished a lot. Ten teams have been to the Stanley Cup Finals since he took over, and four teams have Presidents Trophies. This "Gillis just sat on Burke/Nonis's team" nonsense is just that - complete nonsense.

It's ridiculous that on an analytically-driven website people focus on something intangible (Gillis' wizard-like abilities to influence the W-L record) as opposed to something tangible (Gillis' poor transaction record).

The players play the game. The GM can bring in good players. On the whole, Gillis' transaction record is subpar. It's not even debatable.

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#11 NM00
May 29 2013, 12:27PM
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@Unknown Comic

If you notice, my criticisms of Gillis have nothing to do with the poor playoff record over the last two years.

My criticism pertains to the large 5 year sample size of his transactions.

But thanks for playing.

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#12 UkeeRob
May 29 2013, 01:47PM
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@NM00

I tend to agree with both sides of this debate on various points. I think your assessment of Gillis' transaction record is accurate. His trades and drafting over the last five years have been suspect at times. Their points that it is common for a GM to inheret a core and initially try to build upon it are also accurate. The real assessment of Gillis, I believe, starts now. His own words of a "reset" lead me to think this way. Will he be able to again supplement an even older core to make another run at the cup while still keeping an eye to the future? Will the Canucks be contenders next year and start a transition to the next generation at the same time? This will be Gillis' tough assignment going forward. If he can do it, we will all be happy. If he can't he will ultimately lose his job. Should he even be the one to try or should he be removed now is part of your thinking, I believe. It's a fair thing to contemplate. The reality is that ownership apparently believes he is the one to try. Hopefully he's up to the task. This summer will be pivotal.

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#13 NM00
May 29 2013, 01:57PM
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@UkeeRob

I'm sorry, I can't agree with this:

"The real assessment of Gillis, I believe, starts now"

Gillis has been the GM for 5 years. His assessment started the day he was hired.

Let me put it this way. If Gillis were fired, what exactly would people be saying about his tenure?

Certain fans will point to the W-L record. I put very little stock into that myself. That's why I don't want Gillis fired because of the 1-8 playoff record the last two years.

The focus should be on the transaction record and the areas where a GM can add value to a big market cap team. Gillis would leave a mess for the next GM if he were fired tomorrow.

Correlation does not equal causation. A team can have success inspite of a poor GM. If you follow baseball, Ruben Amaro Jr (Phillies GM) is a perfect comparable to Gillis.

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#14 5mintuesinthebox
May 29 2013, 02:45PM
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@NM00

And what did those same core of players ever get done prior to Gillis coming in and bringing in the players he did?

So, essentially Gillis inherited a core of players who couldnt get anywhere in the playoffs.

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#15 UkeeRob
May 29 2013, 02:57PM
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@NM00

If you don't agree I'm fine with that, it makes for great discussion. You are not wrong to say that Gillis' assessment started when he was hired. What I meant was that he actually did a descent job supplementing a core for a run at a championship. Would we have made it to the finals with Nonis still at the helm? So for that he, in my opinion, gets a passing grade. Even with suspect drafting. For the last couple years he gets a failing grade because his transactions have not gotten them back to a shot at a championship, but his drafting is still yet to be graded. Will Gaunce, Jensen etc be players? My point about this summer being pivotal in his tenure is because he now has to be up to task in both areas simultaneously. He needs to supplement the core again and draft well in order to prevent the team from completely bottoming out after this aging core's perceived last kick at the can. I do follow baseball and I found your comparison to Ruben Amaro Jr intriguing, but correct me if I'm wrong...he hasn't been fired either. Ownership of both franchises didn't get to where they had the money to buy pro teams by being inept people so their judgement in retaining their GM's so far should be taken into consideration.

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#16 NM00
May 29 2013, 03:32PM
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@UkeeRob

"Ownership of both franchises didn't get to where they had the money to buy pro teams by being inept people so their judgement in retaining their GM's so far should be taken into consideration."

That's an appeal to authority.

Not to mention that being successful in one industry does not make one a good judge of hockey talent.

Let's not forget that Aquillini wanted Dave Nonis to trade Edler & Schneider for Brad Richards. Which would have been a terrible, terrible trade in spite of the fact it may have helped the Canucks in the short term.

"Would we have made it to the finals with Nonis still at the helm?"

Does it even matter in all honesty? The Canucks have won 3 playoff rounds the last 3 years. The continual focus on one season that happened three years ago is misleading. And, again, the overwhelming majority of core players on the Cup Run team were brought into the organization by Burke & Nonis.

The Phillies decline could be seen a mile away. Same thing with the Flames.

I obviously don't want the Canucks to follow the same path as Calgary following their cup run. And based on Gillis' track record, I see zero evidence that he can make the quality transactions (like Doug Wilson has done for SJ) to make the Canucks a sustainable contender.

Even if you want to say that the last 2 drafts are too early to judge, the first 3 look like a disaster when factoring in all the traded draft picks for Bernier, Alberts & Ballard (3 poor trades). Kassian and Schroeder are the main two guys left to dream on. And they aren't particularly good dreams.

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#17 NM00
May 29 2013, 03:38PM
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5mintuesinthebox wrote:

And what did those same core of players ever get done prior to Gillis coming in and bringing in the players he did?

So, essentially Gillis inherited a core of players who couldnt get anywhere in the playoffs.

And at the moment, that same core still can't get anywhere in the playoffs, right? Except that most of them are older and the prospects/young players in the organization are not as good as what Gillis inherited.

Again, if Gillis had magical powers to influence the team's W-L record, how come he didn't throw fairy dust on the team during the last two playoff runs?

I don't blame Gillis for the poor playoff showing the last two seasons. The GM doesn't play the games. The main thing he can do to add value to a big market cap team is to bring good players into the organization.

But if I were to play your game and believe the GM was a magician, then fire him for the 1-8 record in the last two playoffs.

Coaches typically get fired for management mistakes. The situation in Vancouver is no different.

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#18 NM00
May 29 2013, 03:43PM
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@UkeeRob

"Ownership of both franchises didn't get to where they had the money to buy pro teams by being inept people so their judgement in retaining their GM's so far should be taken into consideration."

I should also mention that NHL owners have had two major work stoppages in the last decade and a salary cap put in place because they can't be trusted to spend their money properly on their respective franchises. So, again, we shouldn't really trust owners to make the right decisions when it comes to hockey.

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#19 UkeeRob
May 29 2013, 04:14PM
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@NM00

I'm curious then. What do you think the Canuck ownership should do? Who should be GM? Who should be considered? Who should that GM draft this year with their first pick? What potential trades could you envision? This is a great discussion, I actually enjoy your input. That's not an appeal to authority either.

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#20 NM00
May 29 2013, 06:12PM
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@UkeeRob

I have no idea who the next GM should be. Gillis isn't going to be fired this summer obviously so I haven't put much thought into it.

But once the body of work is large enough, and 5 years definitely qualifies in my books, I don't see the point of keeping a below average GM.

And I consider Gillis to be a below average GM based on his poor transactions.

I like the fact that he is open to new ideas. I like the fact he has pushed the owner to spend more on scouting, player development and the rest even though I don't think we can say it has been a good return on investment.

But when the transaction record is this poor, the question has to be asked: is Gillis a good talent evaluator? Does he know what makes a good hockey player? Or are some of his methods, such as drafting college players and avoiding WHL talent, way off the mark?

I enjoy the discussion too. To be honest, a few weeks ago I was on the fence about Gillis. I was okay with one more year at the most to see if he could start making better transactions.

But the more I examined the significant moves he has made in 5 years the more it seems like the good outweights the bad, aside from the transactions I feel any Canuck GM could make (extending the core & signing BC-born defenseman).

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