Canucks and Beyond

Help Wanted: Superheroes Please Apply

04/16/2008 at 2:27pm EDT

From Cam Cole in the Vancouver Sun:

Yes, the explanation for firing Nonis would be easier to swallow (a media wag pointed out Tuesday) if the owner hadn’t borrowed his rationale from Spider-Man. “With great power,” Peter Parker’s dying Uncle Ben told Spidey’s alter-ego, “comes great responsibility.” Aquilini—or his speechwriter—didn’t even credit the source.

Alas, turns out Uncle Ben was very disappointed and offed Spidey, so Vancouver needs a new



Vote in the poll at the bottom of the post. 6 choices are provided, and there’s a brief summary for each candidate…

[Update 12:06pm PT: Updated above the poll with quotes from Dave Nonis today.]

Doug Armstrong

From Matthew Sekeres at the Globe & Mail:

Some hockey people will speak glowingly about Armstrong and many believe he was a scapegoat with the Dallas Stars this year. He was dismissed in November with the team playing .500 hockey, and with attendance sagging. The Stars made the playoffs in each of Armstrong’s three full seasons on the job.

Note: Someone who is used to disappointment and irrational job-insecurity? Hmm, I fear he’s practically over-qualified for the position.

Steve Tambellini

From Matthew Sekeres at the Globe & Mail:

The Canucks assistant general manager is often a bridesmaid for GM openings elsewhere, but has never held the big chair. That might work against him. The fact that he was part of the Nonis’ regime, which wasn’t good enough for Aquilini, could also preclude him from legitimate contention, even while he is running the day-to-day affairs right now. On the other hand, other than Nonis, nobody knows this group of players, the prospects in the system, and the locker-room culture, better than Tambellini, a Trail, B.C. native who just finished his 17th season with the Canucks.

Note: A perfect summation. 17 years and Tambellini has existed like teflon throughout the ups and downs of this organization, and remained such a background character to this team, I can’t even guess what kind of GM he might make. Anyone else have thoughts?

Brian Lawton

Lawton was an idea floated by Bob McKenzie on Tuesday:

Sources say former player agent Brian Lawton, who quit the agent business last year to focus on getting a job in hockey management, is said to be extremely well thought of by the Canucks’ hierarchy. Whether Lawton, a former NHL player who was chosen No. 1 overall in the 1983 Entry Draft, is a leading candidate or just one of the candidates remains to be seen, but it’s clearly a name that should not be ignored.

Note: Okay, I’ll bite. Though I wonder who is the “Canucks hierarchy” these days? Top honchos Francesco Aquilini and Chris Zimmerman only entered the hockey business about 5 minutes ago and almost certainly haven’t dealt with Brian Lawton in any professional capacity (that I can imagine, anyway). So if by “hierarchy” you mean “Steve Tambellini”, then I guess what you’re saying is that “Brian and Steve are friends.” Great, but somehow I doubt Steve is recommending Brian for this particular gig.

Neil Smith

From Elliott Pap at the Vancouver Sun:

Former GM, New York Rangers and, ever-so-briefly New York Islanders. He’s been out of the league for a while but has contacts everywhere, is very available, won a Cup with the Rangers and recognized, in his brief stint with the Isles, that you need one strong voice to call the shots, not a committee.

Note: I don’t have much of an opinion about Neil Smith since he’s spent his administrative career in the Eastern Conference (and c’mon… the Canucks give me enough to worry about) but asking a NYI fan what he thought of the idea produced this insightful analysis this morning: “Blah. Very.”

Pat Quinn

From Matthew Sekeres at the Globe & Mail:

He has been out of the NHL for two years, but admitted to Vancouver radio station Team 1040 AM this week that retirement isn’t suiting him and that he would like to come back as either a head coach or a general manager. Quinn has experience doing both jobs, including with the Canucks and the Toronto Maple Leafs, and lives in Vancouver, where he has an ownership stake in Western Hockey League’s Giants. He is popular in the Lower Mainland for leading the team to the 1994 Stanley Cup final, the furthest the team has ever been in the playoffs. In 19 years as a coach, Quinn’s teams missed the playoffs just twice.

Note: Well, Quinn “admitting” to a radio station that he’d rather be back in the game is a bit like a whore “admitting” she’d like to get paid—and Quinn is a hockey whore. Does anyone doubt that he loves—and is very good at—this game? His age would be questioned, but not by me. At 65, I’m pretty sure he could still kick my ass (and Alain Vigneault’s) without working up a sweat. Which also makes me think: forget the GM thing, just make him coach.

Jim Nill

From Matthew Sekeres at the Globe & Mail:

The Detroit Red Wings assistant general manager is credited with being a draft guru, one of the best finders of talent, especially in the later rounds (see Henrik Zetterberg, the 210th choice in the 1999 draft, and Pavel Datsyuk, the 171st selection in the ‘98 draft). The former Canucks forward is in his 13th season with the Red Wings, but may not be the choice to replace general manager Ken Holland, a Vernon, B.C. native who has three years left on his contract. The Wings are reportedly grooming former franchise player Steve Yzerman as Holland’s successor, meaning if Nill is going to be bypassed, he deserves a chance elsewhere.

Note: A Red Wings draft guru?? Say no more…

Trevor Linden

From Matthew Sekeres at the Globe & Mail:

Before Charles Wang and Tom Hicks, it would have been absurd to suggest that you take a player fresh off retirement and put him in the GM’s chair. But the New York Islanders’ Wang did it with backup goalie Garth Snow, and the Dallas Stars’ Hicks did it by naming Brett Hull co-general manager in November.

Note: Like Garth Snow, such a choice would be widely ridiculed around the NHL. But two things make it plausible to at least consider him on this list… (1) Linden does have extensive experience in the hockey business outside of being a player, given his former prominence in the NHLPA; and (2) in Vancouver, Linden is insanely popular. A quality the Aquilini’s would like to have on their side right about now, I dare say.


UPDATE 12:06pm PT:
From a news conference with Dave Nonis today (via the CP):

Nonis said even now he wouldn’t trade away the team’s young prospects to make the playoffs and keep his job.

“If it was make the playoffs or be fired, I wouldn’t trade away our best young players to save my skin,” he said. “That’s a pretty dangerous cycle to get into. If you want to win you have to do the hard things.

“This team is pretty well positioned to take a serious step forward. If they hire the right person there is no reason to think that can’t happen. I hope it does because then I will be able to look back and say those are the pieces I put there.”

Nonis goes on to say that he thinks Tambellini should be offered the job.

And another update…Dave Nonis on Trevor Linden:

“If he wants to be in hockey, I know he’ll be successful. Trev’s like a sponge. I think he could be a great coach or a great manager.”

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