Opinion Column

Vancouver Canucks GM must step down

Daniel Fontaine

By Daniel Fontaine, Dialogue with a Difference

Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis. (REUTERS)

Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis. (REUTERS)

The season has been dreadful for the Vancouver Canucks. After a stellar performance in December, they have floundered since then and it would be a small miracle to secure the final playoff spot.

What has struck me as peculiar about the team’s demise is how few sports reporters are willing to challenge Mike Gillis, general manager of the Canucks.

If sports were more like politics, the post-game scrums taking place outside the locker room would be a bit more brutal. Gillis and his sidekick, coach John Tortorella, simply wouldn’t be getting such an easy ride.

Imagine sports reporters being suddenly replaced with political reporters — the questions would become a tad more pointed.

“Mr. Gillis, you have completely bungled the hiring of an ineffective coach. You have signed off on some costly and questionable contracts. You are letting fans down. Are you prepared to resign for the good of the city?”

Gillis might respond by saying, “I’m doing my best and I have the confidence of the owner. Not everyone is perfect, but there is still time to turn this season around.”

The reporter presses on, “If the team continues to lose games, will you step aside and let someone else run this team? That’s what the fans are calling for.”

Sometimes the relationship between sports teams and the individuals who cover them can be all too cozy. In fairness, this can also happen in politics.

If Gillis held a cabinet post and his boss was the premier, based on his track record there is no doubt he would have been asked to step aside a long time ago.

Yet unlike our political elite, few in this city dare to question Gillis publicly. One is only left to imagine just how bad the team’s regular season record would have to be before the questions got tougher.

We all know the buck stops at the top.

Short of asking the Aquilini family to sell their controlling interest in the franchise, it is Gillis who must be held accountable for the Canucks’ disastrous downfall. It appears the Aquilinis, Tortorella and Gillis are oblivious to the anger simmering under the surface from loyal fans.

Big changes need to happen now in order for us to look back at this season as simply an anomaly, versus the beginning of a long-term trend.

Mr. Gillis, the writing is on the wall. Like any respectable politician, do the right thing and resign — before you get fired.

Daniel Fontaine is a local political commentator. Follow him on Twitter @Fontaine_D.



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