Mike Gillis joining Geneve-Servette Board of Directors

Canucks fans may remember former general manager Mike Gillis well. He served as Dave Nonis’ heir to the throne in the late 2000’s, helping the team through their last phase of greatness but ultimately losing his job with the club in the spring of 2014. 

The last time we checked in on Gillis, he had moved away from hockey and become a university professor. Now, though, he’s working his way back into hockey – just doing so overseas. 

It was reported this week that Gillis will join Geneve-Servette HC of the Swiss-A league as a member of the team’s board of directors. His former assistant general manager, Lorne Henning, along with lawyer Peter Gall, will help make up the directorial board with the polarizing former figurehead. 

“We all share the same vision,” said Geneve-Servette owner Hugh Quennec. 

“We want to develop the role of the club in this community, promote the emergence of young talents, participate in the development of hockey in Switzerland and build a new rink which will be a place of reference for the region.” 

Gillis’ tenure with the Canucks is hard to measure, particularly when compared with the current regime in place. 

In some ways, the former GM dug his own grave with the club, helping to sign deals like the infamous Roberto Luongo contract and being unabashedly non-apologetic about it. He and the club were involved in a fair amount of toxicity off the ice, as well, with the Maple Leafs controversy that transpired early in his tenure. Not everyone loved the contracts he signed – and while he managed to help the Canucks reach their last Stanley Cup Final in 2011, the changing of the guard in 2014 seemed somewhat expected at the time.

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That being said, though, some miss Gillis by this point in the team’s current storyline. It’s hard to tell exactly how many of his blunders were truly his own and how many were related to ownership – the rampant speculation about Canucks ownership involvement is as heated as it is hard to truly determine merit in – so seeing him take on what could be a successful job elsewhere in the hockey community is something that’s hard to fault him for. We wish him the best in Switzerland. 

    • Cageyvet

      The correct move was always to trade Schneider and improve the team IN FRONT OF Luongo…

      Gillis butchered that, though.

      Although this is the same hockey mind that thought making a goaltender captain was a market inefficiency…

    • YouppiKiYay

      Not such a bad contract? Are bloody insane? As stupid as NoMind00?! Really?

      So, you don’t mind the 12 year contract that was impossible to trade and extended well beyond Luongo’s prime years? The contract the Canucks are still paying for? Really?

      Wow. I am thinking NeanderthalMind00 has dragged this blog right into the dirt. Imagine the kind of return one could’ve gotten on Lu if he had a reasonable contract.

      Gillis was an idiot and was just a nightmare at the draft table. Gillis lost on most of his trades and left the franchise with very few prospects. The idiot was gifted several stars and left us with squat.

      • JuiceBox

        “Gillis was an idiot and was just a nightmare at the draft table. Gillis lost on most of his trades and left the franchise with very few prospects. The idiot was gifted several stars and left us with squat.”

        He says in NM00speak.

        Ted you are, without doubt, the least intelligent regular on here…

        • Bud Poile

          Hey idiot, you don’t have speak or anything else. You’re the village idiot and that’s about it. You and Gillis are probably one in the same.

          The fact that you think I am the least intelligent commentator here is nothing but a good thing. You’re an absolute idiot and I am more than happy to be opposite of you in every way. You’re a grade A idiot.

          Also, why don’t you just piss off. Hmmmmmm?

  • JuiceBox

    While I agree that ownership likely played a part in certain big decisions of the previous regime, the same would have to be true with the current regime.

    Drafting and developing, though, is an area where I doubt ownership would be too involved aside from maybe a high first round pick like when the Oilers selected Yakupov over Murray.

    I cannot imagine Aquillini even knew who Demko or Tryamkin were, for example.

    And this is by far the biggest improvement Linden & Benning have made since taking over.

  • Dirty30

    The Luongo contract may have been misguided but it was Gary Bettman that made it toxic.

    The rules should have been changed, but that contract should have been grandfathered in as the last legitimate one to use that strategy — other clubs had done them as well.

    • JuiceBox

      I thought this city was running out of whiny, self-indulgent Canuck fans…

      The only team that legitimately got penalized was New Jersey with Kovalchuk’s contract.

      Luongo’s contract, among others, was investigated by the NHL for a reason…

      • Dirty30

        Luongo’s contract is still in play and if he retires early there are charge-backs to the Canucks even though he’s now in Florida.

        So the Canucks may get lucky and get out of that situation okay. Or, they may get dinged in a painful way at the worst possible time.

        When that contract was written and signed it may have stretched the rules to the limit, but it was still found to be legitimate.

  • JuiceBox

    The whole Luongo/Schnieder situation was botched from 2010 on. They had three options.

    Completely commit to Luongo and cash in the chips on Schnieder and improve the team while they were at their peak.

    Trade Luongo and go with “the goalie of the future” Schneider – but in 2010/2011 and in “win now” mode that would have been a huge gamble.

    Or – what I believe would have been the best option given the timing of Luongos contract status and Schnieders development at the time – instead of signing Luongo to that ridiculous contract they should have signed him to a shorter term higher value contract say 3yr/24M to keep him for the “window” years then once the window closed, move him and let Schnieder take the reigns in 2013 or 2014.

    As they say “He who chases two rabbits gets none.” The Canucks tried to keep two world-class goalies and wound up with Eddie Lack and then Ryan Miller.

  • Dan B

    Luongo looks like he could go another few years as a starter and then a few more as a backup. Goalies can play longer than skaters, so it’s not entirely fair to compare his contract to Kovalchuk’s deal.

    That contract is one of the reasons that the Canucks made it to the finals. A shorter contract would have been more money and that would have impacted the rest of the makeup of the team. Sometimes you have to sacrifice the future to get all the glory. If things had fallen into place in the finals, the Luongo contract would have been a small price to pay.

  • Bud Poile

    Gillis ostracised what was a massive ego in Luongo and Luongo did the temper tantrum thing and never wavered after demanding to be traded.

    Gillis is ultimately responsible for that contract and for pissing off Luo,both coming to a crescendo with a plethora of NTCs,spent draft picks,an atrocious drafting record and a sinkhole of player development.

    Good luck in Switzerland,Mike.

  • Dan B

    It’s a bit much to describe Gillis as “heir to the throne” to Nonis — I seriously doubt the latter would see it that way, more like an unceremonious ouster by the king.

    What makes you miss Gillis in this team’s current storyline? The exceptionally poor draft and development record other than his last draft? Mismanaging the two star goalies we had so that we ended up with less than optimal returns and us on the hook for a pretty significant cap charge if Luongo retires early? Saddling us with no movement clauses for a number of players going into their declining years?

    I appreciated all kinds of things that Gillis and co. brought to the operation, especially on the pro side of the game but I don’t miss him at all

      • Bud Poile

        Ah NM00, the legend in his own mind — so good to see you making your return after all your talk of retirement.

        You’re quite right, I was still certainly willing to give Gillis the benefit of the doubt in 2013, much as I’m willing to give Benning the benefit of the doubt now. And if Benning’s gamble (on prospect development and banking on young NHL-ready players) pays off as poorly as Gillis’ (on veterans, overage players and free agents) did, I’ll miss him just as little.

        Great to have you and your insights back — as entertaining as ever!

  • YouppiKiYay

    Well, this seems to settle it for now. As much as Gillis is a legend in the minds of some Canucks fans, objectively he ultimately made enough of a mess of the Canucks that no other NHL team will hire him as GM.

  • Cageyvet

    Gillis made a number of silly moves, but he had plenty of company amongst his peers in the GM group. The Luongo contract backfired, but shame on the NHL for retroactively punishing any team that exposed the gaping loophole they had left open.

    He was a massive upgrade on Nonis, but unfortunately his agent background had him cater to the players to the detriment of the team’s future. Had he managed to draft and develop better, those faults wouldn’t have been quite as egregious.

    At the end of the day, his dealings did give us the strongest team in franchise history for several years, and I know it’s sour grapes, but both Tampa Bay (a stunning zero penalties in game 7 vs Boston after they lit them up on the powerplay in game 6) and Vancouver (longest Stanley Cup suspension for a borderline late hit, rampant after the whistle pummeling of our stars, etc.) suffered from the NHL’s “Rules? What rules?” interpretation of playoff hockey.

    He damn near got us a cup, so while we can list his faults, and it was time for a change, let’s not pretend he was as bad as so many of his predecessors. A few less key injuries and he’d have been a hero in this town. I’m not a Gillis apologist, far from it, just trying to retain some balance in the endless retrospectives of his tenure.

    • Cageyvet

      Straight up delusional…

      Doug Wilson can be a hero in San Jose because he built AND maintained a contender.

      Gillis did not build a contender nor did he make the moves to keep the Canucks contending…

      Judging him on the W-L record as GM is as dumb as judging Ray Shero on his Pittsburgh W-L or Chris Osgood on his career W-L.

      It is the last resort of the dullard…

      • JuiceBox

        Oh NM00, you lover of delusion. And such a lover of what-have-you-done-for-me-lately.

        Doug Wilson? Which one are you talking about? The one that got the Sharks to the final this year through an “effective rebuild”? Or the one that was derided for the 2014-2015 off-season and season, widely known as “The Debacle” around the league? The one that drafted Pavelski, Couture, Vlasic and Hertl? Or the one that drafted Bernier, Petrecki and Wishart in the first round? The one that added Martin, Ward and Jones this past offseason? Or the one that added Scott, Burish and Handzus for “grit” in previous years? The one that elevated Couture and Pavelski to leadership positions or the one that was accused of poisoning the room by undercutting the roles of Marleau, Burns and Thornton?

        It’s great that the Sharks caught lightning in a bottle and made the finals. But they are arguably in a worse position post-SCF than the Canucks were when we lost. 8 players next year account for 50% of the payroll and six of them are on the wrong side of 30. Their prospect pool is widely considered one of the five worst across the league. No first or third pick this year, no second next year, no second or third in 2018. This isn’t a knock against what they’ve done but to pick Wilson as your counter to Gillis isn’t especially effective since there’s actually a lot of similarities and last year he was considered a dead man walking.

        • JuiceBox

          “And such a lover of what-have-you-done-for-me-lately.”


          The Sharks, without tanking at any point during the salary cap era, have been a consistently good team…

          I am not judging them based on their fluky run this season or their unlucky year last season.

          “Doug Wilson? Which one are you talking about? The one that got the Sharks to the final this year through an “effective rebuild”? Or the one that was derided for the 2014-2015 off-season and season, widely known as “The Debacle” around the league?”


          “It’s great that the Sharks caught lightning in a bottle and made the finals. But they are arguably in a worse position post-SCF than the Canucks were when we lost.”

          Well they should be…

          Thornton, Marleau and Pavelski in 2016 are older than the Sedins and Kesler in 2011.

          But their success in the salary cap era has not been limited to one run…

          Wilson is just one example.

          I could have said Lombardi, Holland, Poile.

          There is a reason these GMs have had the keys to their franchises for awhile whereas Gillis lost his the moment the core he inherited became too old…

  • Cageyvet

    EVERYONE in (pro) hockey knows why Gillis traded Schneider; I find it odd that the circumstance hasn’t become public knowledge yet and is still debated in places like this.