Canucks Make Front Office Changes; Appoint Weisbrod Assistant GM

The Canucks made a number of internal front office moves on Tuesday afternoon, most notably filling Laurence Gilman’s old role with John Weisbrod and promoting scout Judd Brackett to the team’s Director of Amateur Scouting.

A number of other moves were made too, as the hockey operations and human performance departments also saw a shuffling of the deck. For a list of hirings and our initial thoughts, join us after the jump.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

First off, the moves:

  • John Weisbrod promoted from VP of Player Personnel to Assistant General Manager
  • Judd Brackett promoted from amateur scout to Director of Amateur Scouting
  • Chris Gear, currently Canuck Sports and Entertainment’s Vice President and Legal Counsel, added to hockey operations department to assist John Wall on legal CBA matters
  • Ryan Johnson (yes, the former Canuck centre that blocked a million shots) named Assistant Director of Player Development
  • Mike Addesa joined the club as an amateur scout
  • Rick Celebrini named Director of Rehabilitation
  • Jon Sanderson named Head Athletic Therapist
You can read a brief run down of each individual’s role in the announcement published by the Canucks earlier today.

We don’t know enough about most of these guys to really say anything about these moves, since who’s responsible for what gets murkier and murkier the deeper you go into an organization, but thanks to his time in Boston and Calgary, we do know a little bit about John Weisbrod.

Despite being a hockey guy his whole life, Weisbrod broke in to professional sports in basketball, most notably becoming the General Manager of the Orlando Magic in 2003-04. After resigning from his position in 2005, Weisbrod joined the Dallas Stars as a scout before being hired by the Boston Bruins in 2006.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Weisbrod was eventually promoted to Boston’s Director of Collegiate Scouting in 2008, however the Bruins largely ignored drafting from the NCAA in the years he was responsible for scouting this talent pool. In the 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 drafts, the Bruins selected just six players from United States hockey leagues: Mark Goggin, Zach Trotman, Zane McIntyre, Justin Florek, Rob O’Gara, and Brian Ferlin.

Weisbrod joined the Calgary Flames in a larger role as their Assistant General Manager of Player Personnel on June 27, 2011 – two days after the 2011 NHL entry draft. Weisbrod’s tenure in Calgary was largely negative, as the team looks to have bombed the 2012 draft he presided over, taking Mark Jankowski in the first round, and very nearly made a mockery of the entire Flames organization with the Ryan O’Reilly offer sheet debacle. He was fired in December of 2013, and joined Jim Benning’s front office in July 2014.

Again, we don’t know what exactly Weisbrod has been responsible for, however there aren’t a whole lot of positive signs. His departments appear to have done their best work (Gaudreau in Calgary, Krug in Boston) when he’s entirely removed from the equation, and there aren’t a whole lot of successes you can point to and say “this was a great move.” There’s a bit of promise in players like Jon Gillies, but nothing concrete yet.

I suppose we’ll now have ample time to find out if this track record is just an unfortunate run of bad luck or a legitimate reflection of Weisbrod’s abilities.

  • Orville Wright

    Once again I love the objective…… I mean biased opinion of the Canucks contributors when it comes to Bennings decisions.

    Citing Wiesbords time as a collegiate scout and saying the Bruins selected few players, implies he was a failure. Who knows the circumstances? Some GMs just don’t like US college players or European defensemen…. Doesn’t mean they don’t scout those leagues?

    As GM Benning should surround himself with people he feels share a similar philosophy. Gilman was a good cap guy, but was hired by a GM that isn’t even in hockey anymore, and probably will stay in the classroom the rest of his career.

    If Benning left the GM post today, he would have a job in hockey tomorrow.mthats all you need to know about the differences between Gillis regime and Benning second year.

    • Orville Wright

      When you say the article is negative about Weisbrod’s record regarding NCAA scouting in Boston, it seems to me you’re giving a different interpretation than what the writer intended, which was that there’s little evidence of what kind of job he did in his position because the Bruins didn’t emphasize the NCAA in their drafts. That interpretation is supported by the following summary later in the article:

      “Again, we don’t know what exactly Weisbrod has been responsible for, however there aren’t a whole lot of positive signs. His departments appear to have done their best work (Gaudreau in Calgary, Krug in Boston) when he’s entirely removed from the equation, and there aren’t a whole lot of successes you can point to and say “this was a great move.” There’s a bit of promise in players like Jon Gillies, but nothing concrete yet.”

      • Spiel

        I think that these writers at CA need to dig a little deeper.

        In Boston, we don’t know the details, but we have Benning who does know details and he wanted to hire him. That’s a nice endorsement.

        In Calgary, when Feaster and Weisbrod took over the Flames in 2011 it was generally accepted that the Flames were a team that had held on to their stars too long and had no prospects with any kind of upside on the way.

        We don’t know what influence Weisbrod had on these decisions and outcomes but as assistant GM and director of player personnel, I would say that he had some significant influence in drafting, development, and trades.

        If we look at 2012-13, you can see some good moves without too much effort, effort that I guess the CA writers didn’t want to make.

        Hudler, Wideman, Russell were all signed and acquired by the Feaster/Weisbrod tandem in the summer of 2012. Hudler was 8th in the NHL in points last year. Wideman, acquired for a Jordan Henry (who?) and 5th rounder, has been a minute munching d-man for the Flames who scored 56 pts last year. Russell was acquired for a 4th round pick and has averaged over 30 pts a year while play 23+ minutes a game.
        They also signed Rammo in 2012 as a UFA. He was an effective goalie for the Flames winning 32 games over two seasons with a respectable .911 SV%.

        In one summer they acquired two top-4 defenseman, a top 6 forward, and a legit 1B/2 goalie by giving up only 4th and 5th round picks from their tiny pool of assets. That seems pretty effective use of resources in hindsight. Compare that to other teams (ahem Edmonton) who were rebuilding from a relative position of strength and I think you can agree the Flames did quite a bit with very little.

        Josh Jooris was signed as an undrafted free-agent out of the NCAA in the summer of 2013. He was a regular for the Flames last year. Great return on an NCAA undrafted free agent. Likely that Weisbrod had his hand in that signing.

        • OKG

          Hi, Flames fan here, coming in peace just to give a bit more insight on some of the stuff being discussed:

          -Josh Jooris was actually a Mike Adessa find (that amateur scout you guys just hired). He insisted Jooris come to development camp, and Feaster was so impressed by Jooris that he offered him a contract right there on the spot.

          -Ramo was not a pure UFA signing, we had acquired his RFA rights in the Rene Bourque / Cammaleri trade. So while we might have signed him as a UFA, part of that had to do with how the organization was already communicated with him for the past two years.

          As for Russell/Wideman:

          – Wideman was a UFA in a few days, so it wasn’t really a trade for him, it was moreso just a trade to get an upper hand in negotiations. Kind of like Dallas did with Niemi, not necessary but more of a gesture.

          – Russell was also a pending RFA who had even cleared waivers that offseason. Ironically, 29 teams could have had Russell without giving up a 5th just by claiming him.

  • WTF2

    To stay healthy any large organization will continue to evolve and that results in personnel changes. What happens in the office is only meant to support on the ice expectations.

  • Spiel

    I guess time will tell about Weisbrod, but anyone who was in the room for that embarrassing ROR offer sheet process has some explaning to do.

    Cue the recent CA commenters moaning about the tone of the site. Listen, if what you’re looking for is Canucks news dressed up in optimism why not just go directly to the team site? I’m not being facetious, I actually wonder why people around here are complaining so much lately. I understand knowingly reading something you don’t agree with to get an alternate perspective, but I don’t understand acting as though the writers are perpetrating some sort of journalistic crime. You’re not always right, neither are they. Stop whining and give the rest of us something to talk/think about.

    Knowing that there is no such thing as unbiased commentary I always appreciate the analysis, CA writers, whether I agree with it or not. Keep it up. Cheers.

    • Orville Wright

      I have no problem with the tone of this site, but the amount of bile being spit here is probably a bit disproportionate to the 100 point result that the franchise achieved last season. Canucks fans seem to have decided to hate the team in anticipation of it being bad, rather than actually waiting for the badness to occur.

  • ikillchicken

    This regime is the gift that keeps on giving.

    I don’t know how Aquilinis could be on board. I don’t know how the fans haven’t picketed Rogers Arena over this year of garbage bin fires.

    The trades. The contracts. The asset management. The hirings- the firings.

    How is Benning still an NHL GM?

    Its time for the fans to unite and get rid of this guy before he completely burns the franchise to the ground.

    • piscera.infada

      Luongo will be getting nearly a million dollars a year until he is in an old folks home in Florida drooling pasta from his mouth onto his Panthers jersey.
      The Sbisa and Dorsett deals were signed under Gilman.
      Those alleged overpayments could have been mitigated with a PORTION of the monies lost to Luongo,except the Canucks lose $800k of cap every year until Edmonton wins their next cup in 2025.
      The Gillis and Gilman era was done when the NHLPA told the pair to stop demanding players take less than market value for their play.
      Burrows was then paid a ton of dough,as were the Sedins and Bieksa and Gillis and Gilman were toast. Their cap management days of infamy were done.
      That was four or five years ago. Time to move on with the new regime and let them build and make their own mistakes.

  • Orville Wright

    Not really sure why the Assistant GM in charge of player personnel should be held accountable for an obscure rule. Being in charge of player personnel is the scouts, and development group. When whomever is in charge of the CBA signed off on it and then Feaster approved it I really can’t see why someone whose job ( and those reporting to him ) would have ended at scouting O’Reilly were supposed to notice it. Obviously I wasn’t in the room and maybe he said it was good, but then the person who had CBA oversight should have overruled him. I guess if he hired the CBA oversight guy it’s on him but really only Feaster can own the O’Reilly mess. I have no opinion on John Weisbrod but he has been a part of winning at the IHL, AHL and the NHL. I guess I’ll take a wait and see approach to see if he is an asset for the Canucks.

    • piscera.infada

      Weisbrod got largely mixed reviews in Calgary (yes, I’m a Flames fan, please don’t hold it against me). Many claim he oversaw a massive turnaround in scouting, however, it seems that much of that began before he was hired. Some will say he was the reason for drafting Gaudreau, which is patently false, as Gaudreau was drafted before Wisebrod was hired.

      I somewhat agree with you on the points regarding the O’Reilly offer-sheet, but as I see it that was bungled by the entire management group. If someone wants to question Wisebrod’s influence, or lack thereof as an assistant GM (which might be more terrifying), it’s at least fair to ask those questions.

      Frankly, the biggest thing that sticks in my craw about Weisbrod, was that he was by all accounts the single driving force behind the Jankowski selection in 2012. He was the one who somehow managed to dupe the entire organization with a sensationalized story about driving through a snowstorm to watch a high school hockey game, only to discover “the best player in the 2012 draft”. Regardless of how Jankowski turns out though, it wasn’t a pragmatic use of a first-round draft pick at that time in the organization. Granted, that probably says a lot about Feaster’s faults as well–and I would agree they were numerous.

      As I understood it, Weisbrod, like Feaster, was (at least in his time in Calgary) considered something of a “fixer”. He was tasked with helping to restore organizational prospect depth, and clearing out some bad contracts. Ultimately, he did that. However, there were some pretty serious red-flags about that management group as a whole (Jankowski and O’Reilly), which make it really difficult to accurately assess how good he was at anything else–it’s somewhat of a contentious topic among Flames fans. That said, as long as Benning doesn’t go ‘full Feaster’ on everyone, Weisbrod should make a fine AGM.

      • Orville Wright

        Thanks very much for this — it’s really refreshing to get actual insights from fans of other teams about players or staff who get traded or hired rather than tired cliches and insults. I know little about Weisbrod but your post gives me much more than the original article did.

  • Orville Wright

    Here’s some interesting facts about Weisbrod that the little hit piece above omitted.

    He started ice hockey with the Oyster Bay Gulls and was part of a team that won NY State Championships in 1978, 1980, and 1982, Pee Wee National Championships in 1980, and Jr B National Championship in 1985.

    He attended Harvard where he played centre on the NCAA championship winning team in 1989 (the overtime winner was scored on his shift).

    He was drafted #76 by the Minnesota North Stars in the sixth round 1987. He played 16 games with the Kansas City Blades of the IHL before injury ended his playing career.

    Contrary to the woefully incorrect facts in the blog post above, Weisbrod did not enter professional sports with the NBA. (Why get the facts so blatantly wrong? Laziness? Yellow journalism? Envy? Who knows?)

    In fact, Weisbrod transitioned from playing hockey to scouting with the New Jersey Devils starting in 1992. Noteworthy picks from his time scouting with the Devils were Krzysztof Oliwa, Brendan Morrison, Jay Pandolfo, Denis Pedersen, Steve Sullivan, Sheldon Souvray and Patrik Elias. Not shabby at all. He then managed the Devils’ AHL affiliate to a Calder Cup in 1995.

    Weisbrod then moved on to managing the Orlando Solar Bears of the IHL, which won the IHL championship in 2001 (with a team which featured future Canuck Lady Byng contenders Mike Weaver and Darcy Hordichuk).

    When the IHL disbanded, the Solar Bears’ owner moved John to the front office of his other sports franchise, the Orlando Magic of the NBA.

    So, let’s set the facts straight. Weisbrod’s won far more as a player and as a manager than Laurence Gilman ever did. And certainly more than the author of this pathetic piece of trash journalism. (The author also failed to mention the trifling detail of a Stanley Cup victory by Benning/Weisbrod’s Bruins over Gillman’s Canucks.)

    And as for the “dumb” Weisbrod vs “smart” Gillman narrative? I’ll always hire the Harvard grad over the University of Winnipeg and North Dakota School of Law grad.

  • OKG

    One more thing:

    There’s a bit of a myth that Flames fans tend to believe Weisbrod was single-handedly the reason the Flames drafted Jankowski, because Feaster told an anecdote about Weisbrod’s reaction from seeing the kid play after the draft.

    Not true, Feaster always gave full autonomy to the amateur scouting department and really, it was a great pick. People look at a few of the guys drafted around the same range that are starting to pan out – Maatta & Teravainen but really, that was a point in time where the Flames really needed to build up talent at forward, so I doubt Maatta was ever even a consideration. Which leaves Teravainen, who really didn’t show much in last year’s AHL or NHL regular seasons and only came alive in a handful of playoff games with Sharp and Vermette carrying much of the play. Not saying Teravainen would have been the wrong pick, but I still think Jankowski was the right pick at the time, especially as he had the highest ceiling of available draft picks, and really, still does even if there’s some belief that he hasn’t panned out.

    I think Jankowski is going to prove Feaster/Weisbrod/Button & Co. made the correct decision drafting Jankowski – he is a very good prospect for us that the most just aren’t familiar with “because stats”.

    Also, the Ryan O’Reilly “Fiasco” is a bit overplayed. I know there’s a lot of talk about how Calgary would have lost ROR to re-entry waivers but Feaster is a lawyer himself – I imagine his interpretation would have had strong influence and the NHL wouldn’t have let a team get ****ed over like that by the rules. The way that whole section of the CBA is worded is not very clear in the first place.