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Canucks and Beyond

Mike Gillis: 3 Years Later

The era of Mike Gillis in Vancouver began rather awkwardly,  as he was hired by new owners while having no experience in a NHL management gig and yet without any competition for the job.  The drama surrounding the ownership in general (i.e. Francesco Aquilini was embroiled in a contentious lawsuit for his very ownership of the team even as the hire was completed), the results—three years later and at the top of the league’s standings—seem to vindicate the choice.

From Ed Willis at The Province:

In the end, you can question how it all happened, and the jury is still out on some aspects of Gillis’s administration. What’s beyond dispute, however, is the level of trust Aquilini has invested in Gillis and the resources he’s placed at his disposal.

“No one has carte blanche,” Aquilini said during the team’s current road trip. “But he’s been placed in control of the hockey operations and I don’t think I’ve said no to him yet.”


And from Mike Gillis:

“I think Scotty Bowman said the greatest thing he had in his career was solid ownership,” said Gillis. “I have to agree with him. The luxury we have here is we have people who are committed to winning and who are prepared to look at things differently.

“I think it’s the greatest strength we have. [Aquilini] will do anything to help us win.”

I think we can assume such comments are partially a reflection of Gillis remembering who’s signing his paycheques. But I think he’s sincere, too. (And to be clear, I’ve never particularly liked Gillis as the GM of the Canucks… but having met him very briefly on two occasions, he also didn’t strike me as much of a bullshitter, either.  More of a ‘what you see is what you get’ type. but that’s just my impression…)  Anyway, no one can argue with the success of the arrangement.  The team has performed well and profited handsomely as the GM has guided the ship. 

One of the key quotes in the piece was this one by Gillis:

“The plan was to re-invest in areas that had either been neglected or never fully developed,” said Gillis. “I thought Vancouver was never on the A-list of teams and to get on that A-list we had to do things differently. We had to make sure people knew they’d be coming to a place that was dedicated to winning. That was the key message, and the strategy hasn’t changed.”

That’s exactly what Gillis and Aquillini have achieved in the last few years, and a fundamental part of how they changed the culture of the Canucks. Instead of being a place people played while ignoring the negatives (i.e. travel time,  no Cups, constant drama and sometimes-irrationally nuts Canadian hockey media) this GM-and-owner duo has transformed them into a team that good players want to play for, through a variety of initiatives.  The results—at least to this point—are hard to argue with.

I’m still not likely to join Mike Gillis Fan Club anytime soon, but you can’t argue with results.

Read the rest of Ed Willis’ article here. A very interesting read on the business side of a solid NHL team.



Filed in: vancouver canucks, | Canucks and Beyond | Permalink
  Tags: francesco+aquilini, mike+gillis



Alanah, as a Canuck fan, I’m curious to hear your reasons for not liking Gillis as GM.  What more could he possibly do in his 3 years to convince you that he is a top grade GM in this league?  The team is on the shortlist of legit Cup contenders and will be for years given the age and contract statuses of their core players, the “A-list” status of the team to future free agents both currently on this team and on other teams and the high calibre young prospects in the system.

Posted by CallMeJerry on 03/08/11 at 03:35 AM ET


I think she hates him because he’s ugly.

Posted by kmad from Vancouver on 03/08/11 at 03:42 AM ET

Alanah McGinley's avatar

CallMeJerry—I don’t think you’re wrong at all;  there’s not much more Gillis could do to convince me of his worth to the Canucks.  I didn’t really make it clear in this post, but my original opinion was largely formed in his first year when the GM was hired so abruptly and I wasn’t thrilled with a lot of what I saw over the following year. But I guess I need to have a bit more of an open mind, because I can see what he’s done for the team while I was on leave.  You’ll just have to give me time to get used to the idea of gradually changing my opinion!  I’ve only been back a few weeks, and it’s still a bit shocking to me that we even have a decent team, much less that Gillis has clearly made some great moves. smile

Puckhound61— Any college players on your radar that you think Gillis is interested in? I wasn’t aware he was particularly personally interested in the college system. 

You know, I’ve always been a fan of Burke and I’m sure that’s part of my bias against Gillis.  And also, for some reason I hate change. I just don’t handle it well.  Every time Gillis traded one of our guys early on, it made me crazy!

Posted by Alanah McGinley from British Columbia on 03/08/11 at 06:02 AM ET

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About Canucks and Beyond

Alanah McGinley has been blogging hockey since 2003 (with a notable gap in time through 2010, kicking it with new baby Lucy while living knee-deep in chaos while reading "parenting for complete idiots" during every spare minute) sharing opinions, rants and not-so-deep thoughts with anyone who will listen.

In addition to writing Canucks & Beyond and helping manage Kukla's Korner, Alanah was one of the founders and co-hosts of The Crazy Canucks Podcast. She has contributed pieces to FoxSports.com and the New York Times Slapshot blog, as well as other stray destinations in cyberspace.

So that's me. Who the hell are you? smile

Email: am@kuklaskorner.com

Alanah's Twitter: [@alanah1]

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