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T is for Time

Time really is a flat circle. I found myself thinking that as I read this, this past week:

“The Wild has been steady since its inception. But the operation now seems in disarray. And it’s hard to know or make sense of what their plan exactly is.”

That’s the subhead on a piece from Chip Scoggins in the Minnesota Star-Tribune just this past weekend. If you haven’t been keeping track, the Wild just recently fired their GM, Paul Fenton, after just 14 months on the job and as soon as he was gone the floodgates opened on just how poorly the organization had been run during his short tenure.

I read that and I couldn’t help but think of the Vancouver Canucks. In fact, the more I read, the more real the similarities became:

“Fenton tried to go young in reshaping the roster in a semi-rebuild while simultaneously pursuing aging players — a dizzying display of mixed messages. Leipold desperately wants to return to the playoffs and has zero patience for an outright rebuild. But the Wild roster, as constructed, isn’t a championship contender.”

This pretty much describes the state the Canucks were in when Jim Benning took over from Mike Gillis. The difference, however, is that Wild owner Craig Leipold was quick to realize that things were falling off the rails, and that Fenton was nothing more than a glorified scout with no idea how to handle “the other portion of being a general manager, the organizational part, the strategic part, the management of people, the hiring and motivating of the departments.” You know, the skills that make you a manager.

Unlike Leipold, Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini, who once went on radio to say that “owners own, managers manage, coaches coach, and players play,” hasn’t been so quick to recognize the managerial shortcomings of the guy running his $700 million sports business.

But look, I’m not here to re-litigate the Benning regime and what might have been if Aquilini had been as quick to see the lack of managerial experience and leadership qualities. I’m fairly certain my views on this well established, and you have now either seen what I saw five years ago, or you never will.

So instead of “what if” the Canucks had moved on from Benning, I want to talk about “what now” that the Wild have decided they don’t want to go down a similar path. But that may be easier said than done.

Although Leipold was quick to see what he had in Fenton, it’s not clear that he knows how to avoid making the same mistake the second time around. Even now, the similarities with the Canucks continue:

Yes, while Aquilini brought in a fan favourite and 2nd overall pick in the 1988 entry draft to help him identify a new GM, Leipold has done him one better by bringing in the 1st overall pick to help out. Sure, Modano is only an advisor and not the team president but by all accounts he is leading the charge the hire Fenton’s replacement, just like Linden did for Vancouver.

The danger here for Leipold is that by leaning on Modano, he is going to wind up with more of the same. Fenton, you’ll recall, was highly-touted as a GM candidate after serving as AGM with the Predators. And now that Don Waddell has signed a long term deal with Carolina, and Ron Hextall has apparently been ruled out, that leaves only a handful of current and former AGMs as potential candidates: Bill Guerin, Mike Futa, Scott Mellanby, Brian Lawton, Tom Fitzgerald, and Mark Hunter.

If you click through and read the candidate profiles for each of those guys, you’ll see that they are all very similar. With the exception of Lawton, who has been working as a player agent, the rest are AGMs whose biggest accomplishment appears to be that they worked for a name brand GM. There’s little in those profiles about personal achievements for any of those guys, except when talking about their playing careers.

But I suppose that is what you should expect if you are letting someone with no leadership or management experience do the hiring for you. It’s like if the board of a major car company decided to let one of his retired production line workers pick the next CEO. I mean, sure you want to get input from a wide range or stakeholders, both internal and external to help you make the decision, but you don’t let someone with no experience or expertise in identifying suitable candidates for an executive role run the process. If you need help managing that process, you hire a professional recruiting firm to do that for you.

Or, you know, you get Mike Modano talk to his hockey man friends pick the guy that will run your $500 million business.

But there is an alternative.

One that ties this all nicely back together with where we started.

There is another candidate that has received barely a mention in the medial, largely because he is not in the hockey man clique that feeds most of the narratives to the media covering the NHL.

Mike Gillis has been largely forgotten in the NHL, outside his occasional appearances on Vancouver sports radio over the last few years. Gillis may have been out of hockey, but he wasn’t out of management. If anything, he was doing a self-guided advanced degree in sports management:

“I went off and kind of metaphorically went back to school. I pursued all the things that we started with the Canucks – from scouting, to fatigue management, to human performance. I met the best people in the world doing it, and found it fascinating to continue along the trend of analytics and science, and how you get the most out of people.”

So here’s a guy that has experience as an NHL GM. He not only knows how to run a team, but how to put the pieces together to take that next step and become a true contender in this league. And most of all, he has learned from that previous experience, recognizes the mistakes that he made, and understand how important it is to ensure that the management structure, decision-making process, and vision all have to be in alignment:

“At the end of the day, I should have done things differently than I did, in certain circumstances. I recognize that. It’s one of the reasons that I’m after the notions of alignment, vision and a forward-thinking type of process or environment. You can avoid pitfalls by having a more well rounded, thoughtful opportunity.”

And from this introspection, he has clearly put a lot of thought into how he would approach another opportunity to run a hockey team:

“I want people to speak up. I wanted them to express their opinion. I’m a firm believer that isolation is a killer in professional sports. If you isolate yourself, and you’re not getting every piece of relevant information, then you’re going to make bad decisions.”

These are exactly the things that Leipold found lacking in Fenton’s leadership style. If he truly wants to go in a different direction and not only bring real world business management processes to bear on his half billion dollar hockey franchise, Gillis should certainly be a candidate, if not the front-runner.

In a perfect world, Franceso Aquilini would be coming to this same conclusion by now. I mean, that would really bring home the time as a flat circle metaphor. But instead, perhaps we’ll get to watch from a distance on what Mike Gillis 2.0 can do with a hockey team.

  • Mike Gillis? Seriously?

    The Canucks were always in for a hangover after their 2011 peak, but it was made substantially worse by the fact that Gillis was appalling when it came to acquiring talented prospects, whether through the draft or other means. When Benning took over, the Canucks had only one player in the pipeline who would turned out to be truly valuable: Bo Horvat.

    GC disparages managers who are “glorified scouts”, but there is something to be said for such managers. Over the long term, acquiring good prospects is their most important task.

  • I am sure this article will generate some pretty polarized comments look forward to reading the comments as people rip one another to pieces over the others opinions. Those who must write insults against others instead of just adding an opinion to an article should just get a life. But of course the articles are written in such way to have that happen to generate more comments so that the site can get revenue from the number of clicks and comments. If you are tired of the trolls take a month to not write any comments and just don’t visit the site. Without comments or site visits the site will have to look at ways to draw people with some quality reporting rather than trying to instigate comments by getting into editorials rather than reporting without opinion. Look forward to training camp and when hockey actually gets started and there is news about the team and players rather than pure gossip and editorial opinion.

    • Surely this is well crafted troll as your sentences are dripping in irony. Commenting about people who insult others, all the while insulting people (“..just get a life”) AND THEN telling people to not visit the site (“..just don’t visit the site”) while you are visiting the site. I tip my hat to you.

  • It is unlikely we will ever again watch what Gillis can do with a hockey team. I get the sense he has seriously alienated himself from the hockey community. I’m sure he isn’t on Bettman’s Christmas card list and wouldn’t be surprised if that weasel is advising teams not to hire him.

    If Gillis is to get another chance and have success he will need to go into a situation where a previous GM gifts him a young and Stellar core. He could again elevate that team to the top of the standings. That team should have a set time frame for Gillis and be ready to clean up the mess Gillis will leave behind.

  • I get that Gillis for the most part is not well liked here. His perceived arrogance by the
    media, and his part in draining the cupboards of talent to push for a cup. No one knows what the owners part in all that was, but I suspect that it was a large part. From what I remember, Gillis was hire with no real managerial experience. That must have been a challenge and a half. In addition, the scouting department was poorly run. I have heard a couple of interviews with Gillis, and he admits that not addressing the issues surrounding the scouting dept was his biggest failure. But all that being said, I have to admire the guy for examining what went wrong, looking at ways to improve himself, and looking at ideas outside the box. By all accounts he is an intelligent man. I for one, would be interested in seeing Gillis as the manager of the Canucks, if for nothing else, but to see what innovations he could bring to this Static NHL. His first move would likely be to secure Brackets services long term.

    • Actually, I believe there is quite a bit of support for Gillis. Comparing him against Benning is unfair to either. They both were in different cycles with the team. Gillis and Gilman were very good at the cap and getting home town discounts. Managing the team to within one win of the cup. Torts burned the whole team down, taking Gillis with him, and I have never believed that Torts was Gillis’s hire.
      The challenge i would have with hiring Gillis is with the drafting and the analysis of pro players. Both proved to be a challenge for his regime. Perhaps he would be able to hire qualified people around him; but, I do not see those skills within him. He may make a better president of hockey operations as opposed to being a GM.

  • Sadly the NHL is mostly about recycling the past, recycling is OK for beer cans but the NHL is, for the most part, stagnant because owners always think that other teams failure is likely to be their success, which is the definition of insanity. Gillis was like shock treatment, no one likes it. In the case of Gillis, it’s my opinion that many resent his intellect. He stepped out of the box and tried new things and right or wrong his time did impact the game. Regretfully Aquaman decided to step back in time and do the recycling route. I’m not against JB by any means but this is the 1990’s hockey management, sorrily we feel comfortable with it. I’m not a stats type but there clearly has a benefit and I’m glad they’re giving more weight to it. I don’t know who the Canuck’s analyst is but a lot depends on this strength of personality as to how much it’s used. Gillis IMO had the kahoolies to follow his own direction and spur convention. Some could recognize this, others bucked it. I know fans will go on and on ad nausea about Gillis drafting …. here’s the but …. Vcr was a successful team which meant low picks and also enjoyed a real opportunity to win the cup. The energy and direction were put into that more so than anything and man we got so, so, so close. It wasn’t Gillis fault we didn’t win but mostly due to injuries. One fact that many glosses over-under Gillis new-look hockey management Vcr enjoyed the best hockey it has before or since. I always thought I got my money worth at a game in those days. I think when some nickname JB as Dim Jim I think that’s wrong, but I have to admit I enjoyed listening to MG because he brought logic to a discussion. He was a 1st round pick, a hockey agent and a GM. If I’m looking for a credential for a GM I’d have to think he pretty well covers every aspect of the sport. Fenton, Benning limited. I liked what the Leafs did to their management ( including hiring Gilman ) and it’s paying dividends ditto Boston. Vcr is in a good place with the prospects they have brought in ( be it Brackett or Benning ) but frankly, I think we need a closer to finish the play …. we’re so close don’t blow this moment

    • I know fans will go on and on ad nausea about Gillis drafting …. here’s the but …. Vcr was a successful team which meant low picks and also enjoyed a real opportunity to win the cup.

      Sorry if people are boring you by carrying on about drafting, but it is rather important. Under Gillis, Vancouver picked exactly one player who’s likely to end up with an impressive NHL career. 37 draft picks and that’s what Gillis came up with. Even given that Gillis had mostly later draft picks, that’s a horrible record.

      If a manager can’t draft, he can’t stay. It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter how progressive the manager’s approach is.

      • Drafting is important … sure it is … for the future! In the 2008-2014 era, it was about NOW. We won, we were successful fans loved it … I know I loved it and if you’re honest you likely loved it. All of us were disapointed when we lost in 2011 but it wasn’t Gillis fault ( injuries was amajor reason ) and he got us to the dance. Vcr has been to the SC finals three times. There have been 3 Canucks GM’s in 50 years to take the club to the SC Finals, Jake Milford, Pat Quinn and MIke Gillis that’s it !
        Now we’ve been sold on the future. Every summer we here the same sales pitch and every summer we sign another bunch on loser FA’s. Here’s a comparison. The team we lost to in 2011 was Boston, you may have noticed they’ve retooled and are back in the SC finals again… Vcr didn’t even make the play-offs …. but wait .. we will next year or the year after or the …….. there’s always the future. Hey if you fail an exam by 1% point you still failed, honourable mentions don’t count. When and only when JB has achieved the same as MG will I ( and without reservation) give JB credit. Close is only of value if it’s a hand grenade. Every season the object we’re after is the SC, not good draft picks because we failed yet again. e don’t say to ourselves I hope we lose a lot this season so we can get a good pick for the future. I don’t go to a resteraunt for a bad meal or come back for more. Or go to a movie for a cartoon. Someone is drafting well, be it JB or Brackett and I appreciate that, but what i want is to win. Heck you or I may never be around for next season 🙂

        • When and only when JB has achieved the same as MG will I ( and without reservation) give JB credit.

          You’re comparing apples and oranges. Gillis was the beneficiary of some sound drafting before him: Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Kesler, Raymond, Edler, Schneider, and Hansen. Benning was not so lucky. He inherited an aging team with little help from Gillis’s drafts.

          Yes Gillis deserves credit for taking the Canucks to the Stanley Cup. He was a good manager in many ways. But he was handed a far easier hand to play than Benning was.

          • The only comparison in professional sports is winning, never mind the different assortments of fruits, apples, and oranges are excuses 🙂 Some teams have a history of success. The last era was Detroit aided by unlimited pay roll, now it’s Boston and very likely TO. St L IMO is lightning in a bottle no one new or planned to have Binnington enjoy that much success and no one knew that a new coach would do the trick, but they tried and succeeded, good for them. But the teams that planned and achieved I’d say Boston (new GM/coach ) TO new management and Tampa lead the pack, others are close. Vcr not even in the race you can’t mention Vcr in the same sentence …. I know I know we have good prospects, news flash, so do other teams. Carolina’s farm team won the Calder to St L farm team. Utica never made it to the play-offs. In fact, most of Vcr’s prospects come from EU or NCAA. I’d certainly like to say that Vcr is on the road to glory but the facts don’t back it up. Whoever is doing the drafting is certainly to be admired for the job he’s doing But the criteria for a Pro Sports team is winning, we can’t get distracted

          • The only comparison in professional sports is winning, never mind the different assortments of fruits, apples, and oranges are excuses

            Garbage. Blatant stinking garbage. You may believe that, but few others do.

            As an example, the Ottawa Senators have a new coach in D. J. Smith. If Ottawa makes the playoffs next year — or even comes close — Smith will be a leading Jack Adams candidate. Not because he won the Stanley Cup, because he won’t come close, but because he delivered remarkable results given what he had to work with.

          • We’re going to praise the drafting acumen of the Burke-Nonis axis? Burke’s manoeuvring to get 2nd and 3rd in 1999 was impressive to be sure, and Edler and Hansen in the late rounds were good finds. (Selecting Kesler in 2003, a historically deep draft where 5 Olympians were drafted in the 2nd round, was good but not necessarily earth-shattering.) They deserve credit for Bieksa too, and RJ Umberger and Michael Grabner’s success with other teams takes nothing away from the quality of those choices. But ultimately this was a regime that also majorly bungled several draft days (2000, 2002 and 2007 were all shockingly bad), and beyond 2004’s excellent performance seldom got anyone even close to good below the top of the draft, at which they had many more cracks than Gillis, who was frequently stuck in the 20’s. They did some things well, but their drafting, while better than Gillis’s, was still broadly mediocre.

            Gillis came in when calculated failure was not an option. The team was flawed but had the elements of a core in place, and he was tasked with molding them into a juggernaut, which he did. Getting that much talent below the salary cap, when a lot of the core was in their prime earning years, was a coup that should not be understated. Benning’s best approach would have been to strip the ailing team down and play to his strengths, which is scouting. Instead, he set off on a misguided attempt to rebuild on the fly and set the team back much further than any “raiding of the cupboard to win now” by Gillis ever did, and without the upside of actually, you know, winning.

          • We’re going to praise the drafting acumen of the Burke-Nonis axis?

            There was some sound drafting between 1999 and 2006 with ten solid players chosen, many of whom were critical in the Canucks’ bid for the cup in 2011. After that, drafting went into the crapper.

          • Benning’s best approach would have been to strip the ailing team down and play to his strengths, which is scouting. Instead, he set off on a misguided attempt to rebuild on the fly and set the team back much further than any “raiding of the cupboard to win now” by Gillis ever did, and without the upside of actually, you know, winning.

            I never claimed that Benning was flawless. He should have rebuilt sooner and more aggressively (assuming the owner was willing to go along with it). My point here is that Gillis’s poor drafting is a flaw that can not and should not be overlooked. If he can’t draft, he should not manage.

          • 2000 and 2002 were brutal draft years under Burke. 2007 was as awful as any year that came after it (under Nonis).

            Gillis’s drafting was bad, even given the circumstances. But he did almost everything else reasonably well, and if he has learned anything in the subsequent years, perhaps it would be to hand off the scouting and drafting responsibilities to more competent people (and, in fairness, he kept a lot of the previous regime’s scouting personnel if I recall, so it’s not totally on him). In comparison, the current regime does almost everything except drafting catastrophically poorly. Improving scouting/drafting would seem an infinitely easier task than improving every other aspect of team management.

        • Talking about garbage.
          As an example, the Ottawa Senators have a new coach in D. J. Smith. If Ottawa makes the playoffs next year — or even comes close — Smith will be a leading Jack Adams candidate. Not because he won the Stanley Cup, because he won’t come close, but because he delivered remarkable results given what he had to work with.

          Yup, but they don’t sell out and are restricted by an owner that really can’t afford to be playing with the big boys. Ottawa is a sad case of being a loser and every couple of weeks rumours tell us they night be sold and move. To compare Ottawa with any NHL team is a straw man. As you suggested it’s apples and oranges. Vcr has thankfully spent to the Cap limit every year, they own their own farm team and frankly have some decent scouts ….. but …. they still lose more than they win. Vcr is still 3-4 years away from a chance at the SC. That will be a turn around of 12 years, what can you say is good about that. I’m a fan of the Canucks but frankly get tired of being sold the old produce ( get it apples and oranges 🙂 .. ) year after year. I do not consider myself gullible and could be a tad skeptical but how many more years of a fat zero must we suffer

        • You responded to the wrong post.

          And you completely ignored my point, which is that winning is NOT the only metric by which players, coaches, and managers are measured by. Many times, they are placed in positions where winning is not possible no matter how good they are. Everyone (except possibly you) recognizes that.

          And yes, Benning was most certainly in that position in 2014. The Canucks were primed for a fall, no matter what he did. Thus to compare his situation with Gillis’s is nonsense.

      • Couldn’t have said it better myself Killer. No matter where you draft there’s no excuse having that draft and development record. He may have had some interesting ideas but his succession plan was one of the worst I’ve ever seen. Therein lies Benning’s dilemma, stocking the empty cupboards while also managing the bad NTC’s.

        • JB has been in total control for 5 years, that’s a long time in an industry that depends on success to sell it’s product. Boeser was a good pick at 23 no doubt, 22 other GM’s and their scouting staff passed on him so there was a degree of luck involved but he’s looking good. Can you say the same about Virtanen(6th), McCann(24th) and Juolevi (5th ) without including the words like could be, or maybe, or what if etc. There’s a reason why the cupboard was bare …. a very good reason. The thought process let us win the Cup ( can you say the same now? ) I enjoyed attending the Canucks during that era, I felt I got value. Every fan in Vcr was on a high, heck we won the League title twice and went to game 7 in the finals. there was a winning feelin.Here’s your challenge when was the last time you can point to the same success the club has enjoyed … I’ll save you the time searching. Never, Never! sure you can pretend this didn’t happen ( and there was prices to pay ) and you can fantasize about the future. Tampa Bay never made the playoffs in 2010 look at them now, Boston has missed the playoff twice since they won the cup, TO since 2011 have missed the playoff 4 times but they’ve rebuilt. How come Vcr is still so far away. Sure we can dream about prospects and they may turn out to be good and in another 3-4 years fans can say I told you so, but Boston, TO and TB just roll on year after year, Vcr not so much 🙂

          • Well, semantics, but I wouldn’t say that Edmonton, Buffalo, Toronto, the Islanders, Ottawa and a handful of other teams passed on Boeser, as they got better or at least arguably better players at their slots. The point being just to emphasize that while yes, we have a couple of good players on our team, we (not you, necessarily, as this wasn’t even your actual point) overvalue them in comparison to the rest of the league, at our peril.

        • That’s only true in a limited manner. It’s easy to forget the euphoria we all enjoyed during the Gillis era, throw it out or discard it without a second glance, but in 2011 I recall the family and I used to take a ride down Robson street, fans every where cheering and having a good time. I’ve NEVER done it since. But here’s something to ponder assuming you can put your biases aside. Both Gillis and Torts fully understood the need for major change if we were to enjoy future success. Gillis traded away what was then thought of as a franchise goalie, Schneider, for a draft pick, who turned out to be Horvat and when Torts mentioned a huge change was needed he was fired. Everyone understood the state of the franchise and the need for change and that included Gillis. Gillis could be accused of some things, his perceived arrogance for one, but he was never a stupid man he could read the tea leaves as good as any

          • Chris you’re right. We, or many fans, tend to look at Vcr in a vacuum. Here’s the truth many teams have good prospects and they simply push ahead every year. Vcr believes it has good prospects but never moves ahead. Each year they sell hope in the summer when they want to sell tickets.
            A thought that has passed through my mind is how much has Pettersson changed our view of our prospect. If we didn’t have EP would the others still look as good as they are now. I tend to think EP has made every other prospect become better. How would we view the future without EP??

  • The whole Gillis vis-à-vis Benning discussion must be viewed as an apple to oranges comparison. Both GMs walked into very different situations and are very different individuals. Gillis was a bit of a rogue. Benning more traditional. I do admire Gillis’s intellect and am surprised he never caught on in some other organization. In the end Benning survives because of his scouting background and a better eye for prospects. Have to say though if I wanted a player agent Gillis would be my first choice.

    • I don’t think there is any doubt Gillis is a very intelligent person. Benning hides his intellect quite well. He certainly isn’t the buffoon he often appears to be but he certainly isn’t the intellect Gillis is.

      Gillis hasn’t caught on with another team because of what the hockey world perceives as the grievous errors he made as a GM, the hockey people he alienated and the complete disaster he left behind. Gillis fans do forgive him and recognize many things were done at the behest of ownership wanting to win now. I don’t believe for a second Gillis wanted to hire Torts. Unfortunately these same people are usually first to dismiss any notion that many of the moves made under Benning’s tenure were also at the behest of ownership and/or the president of hockey operations.

  • This is nonsense.
    GMJB had two choices coming into the Canucks:
    1. Trade the twins and rebuild
    2. Try a reboot and take one more swing at the playoffs.
    Trading Danny and Hank was never an option so it was #2. I have said before Benning term should be divided into Sedin era and Post Sedin era. Trying to give the two best players in franchise history another opportunity to make the playoffs was admirable and necessary.

    Now that the youth movement is in full swing there is a definite direction!
    1. Two top young centers
    2. Top scoring winger
    3. Potential franchise d-man
    4. Potential #1 goalie (Demko, not Markey)
    Last year the Canucks were universally picked to be the worst team in the league and spent most of the season hanging around playoff contention. Adding one top player was the difference, now adding another in Hughes and complimentary pieces in top six forwards and defense shows true direction.
    Also having scorers like Nils, Vasili and another top goalie prospect like DiPietro has reinforcements on their way in the next few years.
    This comparison to the Wild is utterly ridiculous

    • Compare to the Wild, why they’re inept. Compare the Canucks to the Bruins. They beat us in the finals in 2011 and lo & behold they’re in-game 7 again in 2019. Vcr still 3-4 years away. Why the Bruins and why not Vcr is the question. Bruins cleaned house might just have something to do with it. If we look at the Oilers we can all point finger and tell anyone caring to listen the reason, but the Canucks …. beyond reproach by many. It’s a double standard. IMHO

      • Simple answer. The Bruins had reasonable drafting and some good prospects. By the end of Gillis’s tenure, the Canucks (literally) had one good prospect. Nothing else, except an aging roster. That is the difference between Boston being in the finals and Vancouver in the Dumpster. Again, Gillis has many good qualities; drafting and pro player evaluations is not his strong suit.

      • you missed the fact the Bruins of 2019 still had 4 of their top 10 scorers from 2011 and their starting goalie. The Canucks of 2019 didn’t have any of their top 10 scorers or a goalie from 2011. I believe all they had left from that time were Edler and Tanev.

  • This article reads like it could have been written by Tony Gallagher since Gillis was a major source of insider leaks on the NHLs dirty laundry that Gallagher published regularly and therein lies the problem. The Gillis name brings with it a reputation of a double dealer that won`t go away. He can still use his media connections to raise his profile but frankly he`s living in fantasyland if he really thinks the NHL needs him. He should buy a junior club and play with that.

    • This could be true. They call it transparency today. I don’t believe for a moment other GM’s like to be made a fool of. Unfortunately many are fools of their own volition. I’m of the opinion he may be stiffed a few GM’s when he was an agent and they don’t like it, but that’s their fault. He was acting in the best interests of his client. We can dislike Erickssons agent but the fact is he did a good job for his client and outsmarted JB. That’s what he’s ;paid to do

      • Here`s an example of the long memories of the old boys network of the NHL. Pat Burns died nine years ago and even before his death there was talk of putting him in the HHOF but to this day it has not happened. He was blackballed every time his name was submitted maybe because twenty years ago he offended someone and nobody holds a grudge against a dead man like an old time NHL executive.

  • Gillis 2.0 would be a whole lot different from his first time around. He has given significant thought to what worked and what didn’t. He has looked at other organizations in other sports and if given another chance he could put together a strong team that could really make a difference. Still I think there is zero chance that will ever happen here, so I’ll be cheering and hoping for the Canucks to pull it all together regardless of who is at the helm.

  • Barely mentioned!!!!! Hilarious. Gillis has been on an all-out media campaign to get himself a job somewhere (anywhere) for the better part of year, calling in media favours like this left and right. Give it up. No chance he works in the NHL again, nor should he. He left the Canucks a wasteland of prospects and aged out player contracts with iron clad No trade clauses. What a genius! I’ve read more about him in the last year than just about anyone in hockey who actually has, you know, a job.

  • The only weakness was our drafting when Gillis was here. He made good trades and generally made smart roster decisions to put together the best Canucks team there ever was. If a few guys hadn’t gotten injured during that run we would have won. By game 7 pretty much everyone on the team was walking wounded and it showed. The only mistakes Gillis made were 1) Not dealing with the goalie controversy until it was too late 2) Waiting too long to start trading guys after the run and letting the team get too old 3) Drafting too many overaged college players. I would be happy with an older and wiser Mike Gillis running the Canucks.

  • I genuinely wonder if people are actually this misinformed or if they are motivated to create polarizing hot takes for clicks

    Benning was hired when the Sedins were still relevant. You don’t get hired as GM if your vision is to ship out the Sedins and ownerships isn’t. Benning was hired to retool the club while also build a completely bare prospect pool. The rebuild didn’t start when Benning was hired. It started when it was clear that the Sedins couldn’t lead a team to the playoffs. Eriksson was not singed in the rebuilding phase.

    People also need to realize that ownership isn’t going to sign off on fielding a minor league roster with an empty stadium for 3 season. That’s why it never happens. I see all these laughable takes about rebuilding that completely ignore realistic constraints.

    Since the rebuild actually started JB has signed plenty of vets. What prospects were kept out of the line up from this? What assets were given up for Gagner, MDZ, Beagle, Roussel, Schaller, etc? None. They needed to ice a NHL team and so Benning pieced one together. It’s not a mixed message, he had the worst org depth possible handed to him and as he is rebuilding that, he’s plugging in players. Oh and names that might sell a few tickets

    Now look at Bennings drafting record and signings (signings since the rebuild started). JV is a disappointment but considering who went 4,5, and 7th, not so bad. He might turn in to a 17-20 goal scorer that can drive the play. Not bad for a disappointment. Boeser is an absolute home run. O.J. is a disappointment for now but he hasn’t been healthy. Pettersson is a grand slam. Best player in the draft and Benning even reached for him. Hughes is another great pick that JB rated much higher than where he got him. If Demko, OJ and Gaudette pan out as useful regulars, I’d rate his draft record an A. As a bonus there’s a lot of talent that might also emerge like Woo, Tryamkin, Lind, Madden, Hoglander, etc

    As far as his signings under the rebuild go, we are stuck with Beagle and Roussel. On top of that he added Miller, Ferland, Myers, and Benn. We’ll see how that pans out but it looks good to me. Luongos cap hit isn’t his fault

    All in all I would say Benning is doing a fine job in rebuilding. I think people are confused because they can’t differentiate between what his task was when he came on board and when the rebuild started. They are confused between filling empty roster spots with vets and not understanding it’s necessity in icing a team while giving up zero futures.

    • So how did that go when Benning retooled? Did he inspire your confidence as the best person to run this club?

      Your argument, FYI, is my favourite from the apologists. Reality is he either had a bad vision for the club’s future or is completely inept at building a modern day competitive team. That’s or he’s spineless and couldn’t tell ownership it was a lost cause trying to ‘compete.’ No one’s confused.

      • He got hired to retool. People say “managers manage” but that’s just not true. You get hired with a vision that ownership agrees with and signs off on. Bennings failure to retool was a failure. On the flip side, father time is undefeated. The Sedins went from superstars to 2nd liners while the org depth was non existent. You can’t lay that entirely at his feet

        He’s made his name as a scout and he is doing a fine job in building org depth. This is what the team needs at the moment. I think ownership brings in a polished president as (if) the team becomes competitive

  • OH NO!!!! Another article analyzing Jim Benning (to some degree). Come on out Benning’s Bootlicking Brigade!!!! Run to your master’s defence!!!!!

    • Hey Dumpster, when you stick to hockey, I find you have something to contribute. We know your position on Benning.
      Your above comment contributes nothing to the conversation, only creates animosity towards the position you advocate.
      Why Troll?

  • These Gillis versus Benning articles (or comments) are always so black and white. But I think in the same way that you can legitimately knock Benning for his flaws (for me mainly on the pro-scouting side of things) so too can you talk about Gillis as being one-dimensional. He brought an excellent sense of the modern pro athlete to his role as GM and surrounded himself with a leadership team and invested resources in ways to support that modern athlete — fitness regimens, sleep schedules, training staff and all the rest. Even the cap-ology stuff seems well-suited that that sensibility, as does handing out NTCs/NMCs as a trade-off for discounted AAVs and such. Perhaps it’s not surprising since his background is as a player agent. But his flaws are readily apparent — not just the lack of success at the draft table, but his lack of success in developing young talent, paying any attention to the farm team(s), and a pretty horrible record of trades over time — the only ones that seemed to be good were where he got a salary dump (Ehrhoff) or his hand was forced (Luongo, Schneider). He got a couple of complementary pieces in Higgins, Laperriere and Alberts but there’s a lot of terrible trades on his resume — Ballard, Booth, Roy, and Pahlsson in particular. So, like JB, I think Gillis is good at some things and not so much at others. I really don’t think he’d be a good fit for the Wild — as others have pointed out, he seems like the kind of guy who’d be good at helping to support a team that’s already ascendent and has its core in place, rather than to try and rebuild a squad. In fact, I think Gillis would probably make an excellent AGM, rather than the head guy.