Image via 24 Hours.
The games still haven’t started counting for anything yet, but with the regular season exactly a week away, and the Rangers (more importantly, Alain Vigneault) in town, there’s a buzz in Vancouver that hasn’t been felt in a handful of months.
Mike Gillis joined Matt Sekeres and Blake Price on the Team1040’s Midday Show to discuss a handful of interesting topics including his relationship with the aforementioned former Canucks coach, the chances of a few youngsters making the team, potential roster moves coming in the next couple of days, and a Sedin extension.
Read on past the jump for the transcript of today’s interview. You can also listen here if you’d like.
On seeing Alain Vigneault again, and whether it was weird to talk to him after having fired him:
"It was good. Alain and I have a good relationship. It was nice to see him and hear how things are going for him in New York. We had a lot of success here together. Sometimes change has to be made for a new voice and a new direction with any pro sports team, and I felt that time had come for us. I don’t bear any grudge with Alain. We remain friends. We hooked up at the draft and had a good time and laughed at some common experiences we had.
We had a very good working relationship when we were together. It was a very difficult decision, but one that had to be made. I think that Alain appreciated that, and the time we had together."
On how he feels about the Rangers coming to town so early on in the schedule:
"It’s fine. It’s great, because there’s a lot of media here. It’s almost like a playoff game in some respects. It’s good for our team. It’s a great atmosphere, and I think it makes for a great story."
On potentially having 2 junior-eligible players on the opening day roster:
"With the way things are shaping up, we’ll probably have a couple of young kids in the lineup on opening night. We’ll see how they do. Zack’s suspension creates a spot for us to play a young player. Same with Jordan’s injury. All in all we wanted to give these kids a great opportunity to make this hockey team.
I’m not saying that [it’s going to happen], but.. it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibilities, but until we get past tonight and see if we have injuries.. until we get past the next 3-4 days of waivers and players that are being made available from other teams I can’t say that definitively. But as we sit today there might be an opportunity.”
On whether there’s an unwritten role when it comes to signing players to offer sheets:
“No. I don’t feel that at all. I feel that sometimes you assume a team might not be in the position to match.. but they always do. 95% of the time it’s an experiment in futility. But as things are evolving with the new CBA there may be circumstances that are different that prevent teams from matching if they’re right up against the cap. I think the dynamic has a chance to change where you may actually be successful with one of these. But the reality is that you’re rarely if ever successful.”
On waiver wire activity:
"We’re watching with anticipation for what becomes available. And if there’s a guy there we like we’ll try to put a claim in for him."
On trade talks picking up:
“There has been a lot of trade talk, and I think that’ll continue until the opening night rosters are set. Right now I don’t think it’s that serious, but it seems to be heating up.”
On Bo Horvat:
“Bo has been good. Clearly when you’re playing these kids in back-to-back games they’re going to struggle in the 2nd game. But he’s a big solid player, he’s a smart player. He’s positionally very good. He thinks the game very well. I’m really pleased with how he has done.”
On Hunter Shinkaruk:
"Again the same thing with Hunter. We put them in situations where they were physically tired. They don’t have that built up 5,6,7,8 years of this level of conditioning.. so it has been tough on them. But we wanted it tough on them to see how they would continue to compete and respond, and so far they have responded well."
On Brendan Gaunce:
"I’m not sure if that’s in his best interest right now [staying at the NHL].. Brendan has a great shot, he thinks the game well. But it’s always the pace that is the limiting factor for young players. And they have to increase their pace. But that comes with playing at a higher level. He started a little slower, but came on and has progressively gotten better."
On Frankie Corrado (and whether he prefers playing him 20+ minutes in Utica vs. 13 minutes in Vancouver):
"Well I’m not going to say right now.. but we’re going to watch how the next couple of days play out right now. We have a veteran team here.. it doesn’t make sense for any young player to be watching from the stands and not playing. We’ll make that determination as we move along in the next day or so."
On whether they’ll continue negotiation mid-season with the Sedins if they can’t get it done now:
"We haven’t made that decision yet. We still have a week before the season begins. I don’t have any hesitation that they’ll be prepared and ready to play regardless of the situation. I think we have a week to keep working at it."