How will the Mike Gillis era be remembered?

Thomas Drance
April 08 2014 05:52PM


I come to bury Mike Gillis; not to mourn him.

On Tuesday afternoon, after a day of dizzying rumors - a management shake-up, Trevor Linden in as President? - the Vancouver Canucks pulled the plug on the "Mike Gillis era". Gillis had become a controversial figure in Vancouver, as underscored by Monday night's "Fire Gillis!" chant at Rogers arena, owing almost entirely to his mixed managerial record. While there are the obvious successes to point to: six seasons, five playoff appearances, the NHL's fifth best record during that span, two President's Trophies, and one Stanley Cup Finals appearance; there are also the obvious blemishes. 

The sordid way the goaltending situation played out was an unmitigated mess, a fireable offense all on its own. It should be noted that Gillis' bets on the trade market were also generally poor (Christian Ehrhoff the major exception), and Gillis drafted players combined to appear in a paltry 54 NHL games this season for the Canucks. Even worse, you couldn't reasonably describe any of those Gillis draftees (Yann Sauve, Nicklas Jensen, Jordan Schroeder, Frank Corrado) as obvious core pieces.

Firing Gillis is a rupture for this organization, an epochal termination. Though the age was tinged with a perma-film of sweaty arrogance and will always be associated with the 2010-11 team blowing a flat in game seven and the riot that followed, the age of Gillis as Canucks general manager was generally a very successful one for the organization.

Read on past the jump.

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What have we learned about Eddie Lack since he became an everyday starter?

Thomas Drance
April 07 2014 03:42PM

26-year-old rookie puck stopper Eddie Lack is set to start his 19th straight game for the Vancouver Canucks, a team still improbably fighting for their playoff lives, against the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night. Lack has started every game for the Canucks since the end of the Olympic break way back on February 26th, a stretch that includes Lack starting the second of back-to-back games on multiple occasions, and it's fair to say that the young netminder has buckled under the mammoth burden. 

It's a burden that Lack is unlikely to be relieved of until the Canucks are mathematically eliminated from the postseason. 

There's a lot to unpack from Lack's performance since he was, by necessity, anointed Vancouver's everyday (literally) starter. So let's focus in on what we've learned about Lack, and what his recent performance tells us about his aptitude as a number one goalie going forward. 

Read on past the jump.

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Gillis speaks: embattled GM pitches fans on return to uptempo hockey

Thomas Drance
April 03 2014 01:19PM


It's fair to say that Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis has generally come across as sour, dour, and irascible during his regular Team 1040 appearances over the years. 

Even when he's working out to Bob Marley, in a situation where we might reasonably expect the THC and the endorphins to be flowing, the Canucks president and general manager has often seemed like a guy who'd literally rather be anywhere else in the world other than appearing on local sports talk radio to be grilled by the likes of Matt Sekeres, Scott Rintoul or Jason Botchford, or, alternatively, sucked up to by the Bro.

All of that huff and bluster which we've come to expect was conspicuously missing from Gillis' 1040 appearance on Thursday morning, however, as the embattled team executive appeared to be laying out a pitch to fans. The substance of that pitch: a return to the sort of high-tempo, entertaining style of hockey that the Canucks have gotten away from over the past several seasons.

It's a tough sales job facing a general manager and an organization coming off of a cataclysmic season like that which the Canucks have endured, and are still enduring. And it may not just be the fans that Gillis has to convince, which the general manager seemed well aware of as he admitted: "I'm not sure I'll be back next year." 

We'll unpack Gillis' comments after the jump.

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Rangers, Vigneault get the last (and never ending) chuckle in return to Vancouver

Thomas Drance
April 01 2014 11:54PM


On Tuesday night the Vancouver Canucks welcomed former bench boss Alain Vigneault and his New York Rangers to the friendly, if sparsely attended, confines of Rogers Arena. Vancouver's club played really well against an Eastern Conference team that I personally expect to make the Conference Finals, assuming Ryan McDonagh's apparent shoulder injury isn't too serious, of course. 

But despite a Herculean effort from Vancouver's top-line the Canucks lost 3-1 and came undone thanks to some weak special teams play. 

Read past the jump for more.

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Greasy Lightning goals allow Tampa to reign supreme

Thomas Drance
March 17 2014 09:22PM


Really this, a 4-3 loss to the Lightning, was the best possible outcome for the Canucks.

Vancouver didn't pick up any points on Monday night, falling to the Lightning in the second of back-to-back games in the bath salts state. Vancouver had "won" the first leg of the back-to-back set, defeating Roberto Luongo's Florida Panthers in a shootout on Sunday night. So this was a massive improvement. Losses may not be satisfying in the short-term, but we might as well face it, at this point in the year every point not banked is a subtle victory.

It helps that the game was legitimately entertaining. Alex Burrows continued to get back on track, and Nicklas Jensen generated a high volume of scoring chances all night long. Such developments are positive signs for the team going forward, as is the club falling further out of the playoffs (and deeper into the lottery). More on the game after the jump!

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