Gillis, Tortorella, de Bonis, and Daly Field Questions in Summer Summit

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:

Bill Daly:

  • 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 drunk jumped 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. 

John Tortorella:

  • 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:

Mike Gillis:

  • 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.

  • Mantastic

    Thanks for the recap, I wasn’t able to watch this due to work (I’m across an ocean from Vancouver, so everything always happens in the morning when I’m at work).

    At the end of the day, I’m really excited to see how this team ends up next year. I’m excited that Kesler is going to come into camp healthy. I’m cautiously optimistic and tentatively pessimistic at the same time, what I can only assume is the natural state for any Canucks fan.

    Only a few more months to go…

  • Mantastic

    Though uneventful, I liked that Torts spoke about the Sedins, Kess and Edler and needing more out of them, especially in the playoffs. Also camp being rigorous physically and mentally and if you dont come in shape that that says a lot…. Right Booth! My lasting outside vision into AVs coaching style is the coach basically giving training camp off to the top guys the yr after the cup finals, because they had “a long season.” What a way to give the guys the easy way out. The team never played hard on a consistent level after that. That’s where I believe Torts will improve this team.

      • Mantastic

        I wouldn’t call the core old… Middle aged?? If Edler, Kess or the Sedins were dangled on the market there would be plenty of interest and all will be main players for teams favored to win medals. Asking more from Sedins and Kess is a message to Kassian and Edler that they have to improve which will make the team better. Getting more out of the middle guys will be key to playoff wins. In post season teams put The Webers of the world on the Sedins and the team has no 2nd or 3rd scoring.

        • Mantastic

          The 10 most expensive players (i.e. the core) consume approximately $50 million of the cap with an average opening day age of 31.

          Barring a major trade, which Gillis has never shown the ability to do without sufficient cap space, it’s unrealistic to expect the team to be any better.

          Espescially considering the lack of upside on the roster.

          Fortunately the division doesn’t appear to be too good.

          So the Canucks will probably make the playoffs if the goaltending is above average. Though that’s a bit of a question mark too.

          • toprightcorner

            Goaltending won’t be that much different… Luo is Luo. He gives up juicy rebounds and gets off balance sometimes, but can play brilliant also. The key to improving is the D corps.the Canucks have 1-6 the best D in the league and if Edler can ever become a leader he could be one of the best. AV miss handled the D with green lights for Bieksa and Edler. But Ballard was bench material if he made a mistake. The end of the season a game didnt go by without a bad penalty because of indecision at the blue line or a terrible outlet pass on the opponents stick in the slot. If the D unit can play like one this team and the GAA will be better. Cutting down lazy penalties and TOs will help the Nucks out immensely.

      • Mantastic

        But, but, but, he let in too many goals during big games! No other goalie has ever done that, not Brodeur, not Roy, nobody.

        /sarcasm, if it wasn’t clear enough.

          • Mantastic

            they won conn smythes for a reason. they didn’t do it all by themselves but they had a very large part in doing so. kinda makes up for the fact they’ve had some lousy games.

          • toprightcorner

            So what? They’ve still had stinkers at bad times before, that doesn’t really have anything to do with what I was saying…

            Besides, Selanne didn’t win a cup until he was, what, 37?

            Would you have described Selanne as trash that could never win for the 17 or however many years he played before that? Winning a cup isn’t something every good player can just up and do. What if Bourque wasn’t traded to Colorado and went on to win the cup? Would you have called him a bad defenseman?

            This idea that you only have worth as a player if you’ve won the cup is garbage. Hey, lets bring back Rome, I think he has a ring!!

  • Mantastic

    Is B-Mac the most annoying announcer in Van right now or what?! What a moron. His M.C. skills are on par with his broadcasting. It’s sad when he thinks he’s being funny. At least he wasn’t stuffing his fat face and trying to eat as the proceedings went on.

    Not too much info but it was nice to have this for the season ticket holders. I’m not sure why they didn’t supply signed items to each season ticket holder who attended (sticks etc). Instead they jacked up prices.

    I can’t see myself attending games for a while. I haven’t really gone since the ’04 lockout. Cheering on the team but still not impressed with the league stupidity and taking the fans for granted.

    • Mantastic

      ” I haven’t really gone since the ’04 lockout. Cheering on the team but still not impressed with the league stupidity and taking the fans for granted.”

      The lockout was a brilliant marketing strategy that transferred money from workers to the owners. There was nothing stupid about it.

  • JCDavies

    “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, ”

      • Mantastic

        I’d suggest it was because the Canucks drafted by need largely due to their cap blunders.

        Kassian and Jensen will battle for a top 9 winger spot. Gaunce & Horvat will battle for the 3LC spot.

        Schroeder is plan C or D.

      • JCDavies

        The other comment: “We were trying to ‘design’ a trade to pick ‘that’ player” was amazing too. It’s just like the five-player list Gillis had when he traded CoHo. What happened to going out and finding out what teams are willing to offer and taking the best deal available?

        • toprightcorner

          Are you actually surprised, though?

          Gillis is pretty defensive when answering questions.

          But for the most part, who cares what he or any GM says?

          They’re all used car salesman. Some are just better at slinging BS than others.

  • Oilers21

    What makes anyone thing a March 2nd outdoor game in Vancouver is going to work? It will probably be 15 degrees and raining.

    -edit- I saw it’s at BC Place, never mind

  • Oilers21

    Standard of officiating changes? Hah! I think Canucks fans remember the standard of officiating changing during the playoffs of 2011 all too well. Now, Canucks Nation can’t get too mad. The league asked the officials to crack down on diving prior to the Conference Finals. And the next step after that was to put the whistles away during the Stanley Cup Finals to remove diving as a factor. The Canucks need to own up their part in how officiating ‘evolved’ during those playoffs. There were too many embellishers on that Canuck team.

    And then there was the Rome KO of Horton. That’s when the Bruins decided to start delivering body blows to the Canucks. And in the absence of penalties being called…well, you know the rest of the story.

  • Oilers21


    The lockout was brilliant marketing? Really? So the lost revenue and earnings were brilliant? The near loss of several sponsors and advertisers was brilliant? Hmmmmmmmmm.

    I have this funny feeling they would’ve preferred to play the full season. I also believe this new CBA was needed as the salaries and cap circumvention became moronic.

    • Oilers21

      The cap will be back over $70 million in 2014-2015 with players only receiving 50% of the pie.

      The lockout hasn’t curbed revenue growth and it achieved its intended effect of lowering worker costs.

      It was good business.

  • Mantastic

    Canucks fans: “Our core is old and we’re doomed.”

    Same Canucks fans: “Why can’t we load up at the trade deadline with proven veterans like other teams do and make a real run at the Cup? Great organizations always do that.”

    Canucks fans: “The Canucks never give their young players a chance. We are terrible at developing young players. I think we should have the following 27 rookies in our opening night roster…”

    Same Canucks fans: “Teams like Detroit are so smart and patient with their young players. What a great organization.”

    It all makes my head spin.

  • toprightcorner

    Holy cow!! Is Gillis delusional or does he thing everyone is buying what he is selling.

    He actually thought Horvat would not make it past the 5th pick when the consensus has the Canuks taking him earlier than expected.

    I have never seen a person so unwilling to admit he was wrong or fail to take responsibility for his action as Gillis.

    Vancouver’s window is quickly getting smaller and if they don’t get rid of Gillis, it will be shut, the Sedin’s will be playing in Sweden and Hodgson will still be twice the player Kassian will ever be.

      • toprightcorner

        I agree, but lets see how AA deals with his Blue Jay fiasco?! In fairness Gillis has bred a culture in Vancouver which has the players take less than market value in order to stay with the Canucks and that is rare these days. That being said, he shot his mouth off about CoHodgson when it was not necessary, made two terrible trades with Fla that have produced zero value, created a complete goalie soap opera that had the ultimate twist ending and now hired a wild card coach if there has ever been one… Keenan! To trade picks for rentals and then say you hated to do it the whole time is beyond disingenuous. Hopefully stability will prevail over last years turmoil and a real team will show up on the ice in Oct. if not and Torts starts yell at pressers….. Don’t say you were wrong Gillis just turn the lights off when you leave.

        • toprightcorner

          “In fairness Gillis has bred a culture in Vancouver which has the players take less than market value in order to stay with the Canucks and that is rare these days.”

          You’re giving too much credit to Gillis for this.

          Big market cap teams tend to keep their core players. It has little to do with the GMs.

          And, collectively, the “discounts” don’t look especially good anymore.

          Unless they get the goaltending, this is a pretty average, old team with limited upside that was outshot at even strength last year.

          How many discounts can there possibly be on an average team that spends to the cap?

          • JCDavies

            I hate defending Gillis but the production Burrows has given over the years and the Sedins has been value for the Canucks buck. Edler could have gotten a big payday but stood around the same dollar value as Bieksa, Hammy and Garrison. The Sedins are really the ones who set the culture, the old Chicago GM gave Gordie Howe a ridiculously low deal, something like 2000 bucks and a leather jacket then used it against the rest of the players every time they wanted a raise. How can you gettin more than our best player?? That’s pretty much what Hillis does.

          • JCDavies

            Which really means the credit should go as much to the Sedins as Gillis.

            The Sedins could be playing for Toronto right now and making 7 or more million a year, if what Burke tried to do ended up happening.

            Instead, they took less and basically forced a cap on all contracts the team signed, unless your name is Sidney Crosby. They emphatically did not need to do that.

  • JCDavies

    The only ones coming at a discount right now are arguably the Sedins, and maaaaybe Hamhuis.

    Burrows was a huge bargain at 2/per, but at 4.5 it makes his cap hit rather average for what he does. I still love Burrows, but he’s not a bargain anymore.

    Everyone else generally has question marks attached. Kesler, Bieksa, Edler, Booth, Luongo…

    These are all guys who could be earning much more potentially than they may be worth next season.

    Also, if you’re going to use the used-car salesman analogy, you have to admit he’s done a great job of selling all sorts of cars to Aquillini. At this point, I would not shed tears if Gillis was let go. That being said, I’m not against giving him another season to try to turn things around.

    Thin ice is the word of the season.

    • JCDavies

      “Also, if you’re going to use the used-car salesman analogy, you have to admit he’s done a great job of selling all sorts of cars to Aquillini.”

      That was Ricciardi’s best quality too! Keeping his job a lot longer than he should have had it.

      I agree with you on the contracts specifically Burrows.

      A lot of these guys looked like bargains during the cup run when they were in their primes.

      Now, not so much.

      I used to think cap management was more of a skill. Now I think it’s more about having the right players at the right age more than anything.

      And the Canucks don’t have that anymore.