Canucks fire president and GM Mike Gillis, rumoured to be bringing in Trevor Linden 0
The Canucks fired GM and president Mike Gillis on Tuesday, a day after Vancouver was eliminated from the NHL's post-season. (Carmine Marinelli/QMI Agency/Files)
Time is up for Mike Gillis in Vancouver.
A day after the Canucks were officially eliminated from playoff contention in a lifeless 3-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, the club fired their president and general manager.
Thus ends a five-year era that saw the former agent-turned-GM manage a Vancouver squad to two first-round exits, two second-round defeats and a Stanley Cup appearance.
Under his tenure, the Canucks compiled a 260-144-51 regular season record and a 28-28 mark in the playoffs.
Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini issued a press release in which he “sincerely” thanked Gillis for his “hard work” and “contributions,” but added, “I believe we have reached a point where a change in leadership and new voice is needed.”
To make things even more interesting, Trevor Linden's name was thrown into the mix Tuesday to replace Gillis as the team's next president.
According to TSN insider Bob McKenzie prior to the firing, a potential scenario had the former Vancouver captain, who retired from hockey in 2008, stepping in before hiring his own general manager. A decision would then be made on head coach John Tortorella.
Other rumoured names to possibly fill the now-empty GM void include former Hockey Canada head Bob Nicholson, former Canucks captain Markus Naslund, ex-Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster, and even Wayne Gretzky.
But for now, nothing is official on who replaces Gillis.
Either way, the Canucks have taken the first step to cleaning house, potentially also sending Tortorella packing after a dismal season that saw the team miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
To put things into perspective as to how far this team has fallen, even if they win all three of their remaining regular season games, they would still finish with the lowest point total — excluding the lockout-shortened campaign — since 1999-2000.
Their offence has put together 187 goals so far, which could potentially be the lowest in franchise history unless they manage more than five goals in their remaining schedule — with the current low being 192 set in 1998-99.
Injuries have played a part to the season woes, along with a long list of underachievers, but much of the blame has been directed at both Gillis — who's biggest move this year was sending away the No. 1 goalie while failing to improve the club — and Tortorella — who, instead of reviving a veteran squad, implemented a style ill-fitting for the makeup of this team.
But to clear out both the GM and coach would come at a major financial cost to the Aquilinis. According to Sportsnet, that would be in the range of about $16 million.
For now, the price will be paid for sacking the former General Manager of the Year, who was very vocal last week on a local radio station in expressing how he wants to bring the team back to the style they were playing before.
But with the firing Tuesday, the Canucks ownership clearly heeded fans' demands — after they chanted "Fire Gillis" near the end of Monday's game — and with Aquilini set to speak to media Wednesday morning, more drastic changes could potentially follow after an embarrassing and disappointing season.
On Tuesday, Linden told Global in an interview that he has not been approached by the Canucks about the president's job and is focused on his fitness business — Club 16.
However, the Vancouver legend added he is always opened to a hockey job even though an announcement is not imminent.
"I’ve always said to people, if the opportunity is right and the time was right, I’d have to seriously consider it," Linden told Global, adding he's not prepared to leave Vancouver for a job. "I’ve never really thought of it, to be honest, there’s many jobs in hockey. I’ve often thought I’d be a good coach though.
"It’s been a disappointing season, the players have been disappointed the fans have been disappointed. Everyone’s been disappointed. It’s a not a fun time, playing games that don’t mean anything."