Mike Gillis and John Tortorella are getting good at sitting beside each other, answering people’s questions.
Image via The Windsor Star.
On Tuesday evening, Rogers Arena played host to season ticket holders of the Vancouver Canucks, who were in attendance for the team’s annual "summer summit". Mike Gillis, John Tortorella, Victor de Bonis, and NHL VP Bill Daly were amongst those in the house, fielding questions from the audience.
While there was ultimately nothing that would be considered groundbreaking discussed at the event, we’ve decided to recap the festivities for those of you that were unable (or unwilling) to livestream it via the team’s official Youtube account because there was in fact a few somewhat interesting things bandied about. Plus, it’s July 23rd and news is sparse, so give us a break.
Read on for more from the summer summit.
Some of the more prevalent things that took place throughout the summit, sorted by person:
- The show started off with Bill Daly and Barry MacDonald (known as B-Mac, by many) talking about a bunch of things – predominantly the lockout, the Olympics, and the divisional realignment – which couldn’t have possibly been more boring, and less fan friendly. I’m still sort of unclear as to why Daly was in attendance.
- Thankfully, their banter was brought to an end thanks to a video package hyping the "outdoor" game on March 2nd against the Senators. This particular video – one of roughly 1,283,972 of which were shown throughout the night – ultimately climaxed with a highlight of Milan Michalek celebrating a random goal. Are you not entertained?
- A fan – who responded to Joey Kenward’s opening question of how long he has been a ticket holder with "since the year following Mike Keenan’s firing" – asked Daly about how the officiating in the playoffs seems to change, with the zebras putting their whistles away. Daly responded by saying that while "playoff hockey is a different breed", the officials are not instructed to change the way they officiate come playoff time. Whether it was the question, or the incessant boo’ing from the crowd, Daly seemed rattled by this point.
- Finally, Daly quickly shot down the idea of the NHL adopting baseball’s system of placing added importance on the All Star Game (by having it determine who gets home ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Final). He said GMs would throw a fit, and that the teams work so hard during the 82-game season that they deserve a game that is mostly for fun.
Victor de Bonis:
- de Bonis
is clearly drunkjumped in during Daly’s segment, mostly to discuss the Heritage Classic. He let us know that tickets for it will be independant of the season tickets, and that the team is expecting a turnout exceeding 50,000. He refused to "spill the beans" (his words) on whether the team would or wouldn’t be donning the Millionaires jerseys for the game.
- According to de Bonis, the Heritage Classic event has nothing to do with the team trying to make some extra money. Those comments drew a good laugh from the crowd in attendance.
- After having sat for a long time while Daly fielded questions, de Bonis finally got his chance to shine when a fan asked about preseason tickets, and why ticket holders have to pay for them. He went on to clumsily respond with the following: "back when this franchise started in.. 1970.. or whatever it was..". It turns out that it’s probably a good thing that Daly was driving the bus during this segment.
- Tortorella (somewhat) officially announced that Mike Sullivan, Glen Gulutzan, and Rollie Melanson will round up his staff of assistant coaches. While I don’t think this really surprised anybody with it being rumoured for weeks now, I think it’s the first time that it has been acknowledged by Tortorella or someone from the Canucks.
- On Training Camp: "We have our camp set. It’s written out. It will be a very rigorous camp. The testing and the conditioning will be the main focus. Both the physical, and the mental conditioning. I think how athletes present themselves when they’re being tested will show me where they want to be with the club. I know about the Sedins, and I know about Kesler, but I don’t know much about that middle part of the lineup and I won’t until we get in the room for camp. "
- On Youth: "We have some kids that are knocking on the door. We want to give them every opportunity to try and crack this lineup. But we need to be careful on how we develop them. They need to know what it takes to be a pro. If we feel it’s hurting them, we’ll send them to the minors and let them play. You don’t want to damage them, and you don’t want to force feed them. With the cap being the way it is though, you need to be youthful in your lineup. And we really do want to bring some youth into this lineup. Me and Mike (Gillis) have had numerous discussions about this."
- On Getting the most out of Ryan Kesler: "I just talked to him last week. We’re asking for more. We’re going to push to get more from him. Everybody thinks that it’s about kicking and screaming, but it isn’t. It’s about appealing to the athlete. Your legacy as an athlete is made through the playoffs, and what you do there. It’s easy to say the words, but you’ve got to do the things to get there."
- On Blocked Shots: "We talk about shot blocking a lot, but I think it has taken on a life of its own. I think it’s part of good defense, and trying to get the puck back. We saw it happen in New York – I think the whole team takes on the mindset of trying to be a harder team to play against. That will be asked of everybody, including the Sedins, because that’s the proper way to play."
- On Style: "We want to go. We want to play up-tempo. We look at some of our D.. we look at this Edler, and I think he’s going to be a big part of trying to create more offense from the back-end. We want to be aggressive. We want to play a hard in-your-face style. You know the Sedins – they make something out of nothing. We have talented guys on this team, and we’ll score some goals. But you need to sustain the forecheck, and you need to be able to play up against the boards. I’m certainly not trying to insult this team, but we’ve been out early in the playoffs."
- My final takeaway from this portion of the Q&A: I’m not sure what happened to the old "Torts" whose shenanigans we all grew to love (from a distance, albeit), but this current incarnation is creeping me out. He’s overly smiley, and cheery, and optimistic. I tweeted this out as it was happening, and @EastVanHalen summed things up quite adequately:
- For those scoring at home, Gillis was profusely sweating, and his cheeks were as rosy as ever.
- On Eddie Lack (and how he took the news of Schneider being traded): He’s Swedish, he’s easy (*giggles*).
- On conversations with Luongo: Roberto is great. We ironically spent half the conversation going through his Twitter account. He thinks he’s so witty and funny. But he’s the consummate professional. At the end of the day, we had to make a choice, and we made the choice to go with Roberto. I think that he’s very enthused about the next steps and what the future is going to hold. The conversations that I’ve had with him (after the season) were upfront, and positive. It wasn’t strained or adverserial. I think he’s working his way through it, and he’s going to be fine. I think he’s going to be the starting goalie for the Canadian Olympic team, and he’s going to be the starter for us. I’m very optimistic about it. We are pleased he’s our number one.
- On Luongo’s mentality following the Boston series: Everything changed after that 7th game. It has taken a while to come back. He felt that after that series happened, that perhaps he was blamed more than others, held accountable more than others, and that was a pretty tough thing for him.
- On Bo Horvat (and not getting enough for Schneider): Well, according to those guys at TSN we were trying to get less (*scoffs*). Throughout this entire process we explored every opportunity we could explore. What was written, mostly outside of Vancouver, was about 95% untrue. Completely untrue. Our objective was to move into the Top 10 picks, and that was the best we could do given the circumstances. We were trying to design a trade to pick that player (Horvat) – whether it was earlier, or later – but we didn’t think he would slide past the 9th pick. We were actually worried that he wouldn’t slip past the 5th pick, so we were pleased to get him.
- On the Sedins: I talked to them as soon as the season was over. We agreed that they want to stay in Vancouver, obviously, and we want to keep them. They deserve a bit of time off. But we’ll revisit it as soon as they’re back from Sweden, and we’ll make sure they’re well taken care off and they spend their full careers here in Vancouver.
- On this summer’s moves: Weber is a player we think has a lot of upside. He’s an offensive defenseman. We think he has an opportunity to play on our power play. He is one of those guys with upside that you search out for, and we hope to capitalize on it. We made a conscious decision to have space available for young players, which is something we haven’t done in the past. I’m very excited about this.
- On Vancouver’s response to the officiating in the Boston series: It was disappointment. This league is a funny league, and this year with Chicago winning we saw skill win out. And I think we’ll now see a trend back to skill. As you know I like up-tempo offensive hockey, transition, and accountability. We had all that a couple of years ago. We have fallen short in the playoffs these past few years for reasons we’re all aware of. But we have a great group of players here, and I’m not willing to break it up. We talked about a "reset" before, and this is it right here. We now have a new voice.
- On Kassian/Hodgson trade: Zack is a unique package. He’s big, strong, he fights, and he has talent. Those are hard players to get, hard players to find, and hard players to develop. When you get an opportunity to get one of those players it’s hard not to look at it. If we get that consistency out of Zack, I think you’ll change your mind about that trade.
- On remaining moves: We’re moving down the road with our 3 restricted free agents (Tanev, Schroeder, Weise). I anticipate we’ll get all 3 of those done. We do want to leave some roster spots open for competition during camp. If you keep signing older players to fill those spots, you’re eliminating opportunity. We want some competition in this camp.
- On Gilbert Brule: I have not thought about him. We have players like him, and that would be a redundant use of our assets.
Finally, the event concluded with Pavel Bure making his way down to join Gillis, and answer some questions. Unfortunately, I had to step out as during the Russian Rocket’s Q&A, so you’ll have to excuse me for not having any of his quotes up on here (though as far as I know, he didn’t say anything all that important). However, before I left, Gillis let it be known that Bure’s number 10 will be raised to the rafters this season. The actual date? It’s not yet known, but an announcement is "coming shortly", apparently. Until then, enjoy this video package.