Rob The Hockey Guy

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Canucks fans boo Mike Gillis, ignore reality

Image Courtesy: Vancouver Sun

During the Pavel Bure jersey retirement on Saturday, a smattering of boos was reserved for Canucks’ general manager Mike Gillis (most had the good sense not to boo, but the booing was noticeable). Booing the most successful general manager in Canucks history (while giving a standing ovation to a much less successful former general manager, Pat Quinn) was puzzling to me. Sure, Mike Gillis has had a bad couple of years recently, but he was the toast of the town not long ago. Furthermore, booing Mike Gillis ignores reality.

Have you been paying attention Canucks fans? Gillis just signed Daniel and Henrik Sedin to bargain contracts yet again, keeping them at less than market value. He has also done a remarkable job at restocking the team’s depth this year with unheralded players that are performing much better than their contracts.

It has been a pretty nice start to the season for Vancouver. This team isn’t a Presidents’ Trophy team anymore and they aren’t expected to win a Stanley Cup this year, so the bar we measure them has lowered. Nevertheless, some acquisitions made by GM Mike Gillis are giving me hope that the team could contend for the Stanley Cup a little sooner than I expected.

In all likelihood, the Canucks’ hope for becoming a Stanley Cup favourite once again hinges on some of their young players like Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk developing into impact players while the Sedins and Roberto Luongo are still stars. But the work that Mike Gillis has done recently just might speed up that process.

Meet the new guys:

John Tortorella

The Canucks’ star players have jived with new head coach John Tortorella better than anyone could have expected. His transition to Vancouver has been a lot smoother than Alain Vigneault’s in New York and nobody is pining for Dallas Eakins like they were back in June. Henrik and Daniel Sedin look born again, filling the net like they did in 2011 again while playing over 22 minutes per game. Torts has the team playing aggressive and is reshaping the team’s identity.

Mike Santorelli

Here are the ice time leaders among Canucks forwards: Ryan Kesler, Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Mike Santorelli. I don’t know anyone who saw that coming. Santorelli’s strong play has vaulted him to play on the team’s second line and vaulted Ryan Kesler to a line with the Sedins. Santorelli plays on the power play, penalty kill and is their go-to shootout performer. He’s fourth in team scoring, including two overtime goals! As if that wasn’t enough, Santorelli has Manny Malhotra-esq in the faceoff circle, winning 61% of his faceoffs (third best in the NHL).

The guy who was expected to replace Andrew Ebbett as the team’s 13th forward is now Mr. Everything. Can 27 year old one-time 20 goal scorer continue this production? It would seem unlikely, but if he is even 80% of the player we see right now, he will be a nice addition as the team’s third line centre.

Brad Richardson

The man expected to fill the void as fourth line centre has quietly put together a very nice season. Richardson has provided the speed and grit that was expected, but he has filled the net too. Richardson is sixth in scoring, tied with Chris Higgins, and has two shorthanded goals. He’s one of John Tortorella’s most reliable penalty killers on the third best penalty killing team in the league.

Ryan Stanton

I have joked on Twitter that I am the president of the Ryan Stanton fan club, so you know how I feel about him. What a find Stanton has turned out to be. He has stepped in and been the perfect #6 defenceman for the Canucks. Not bad for a player with only one career NHL game under his belt when they claimed him off waivers from the Blackhawks before this season. It makes you wonder what teams like the Edmonton Oilers were thinking, given they are in desperate need of a defenceman. The news keeps getting better as Stanton is under contract this year and next for only $550,000 and is only 24 years old.

If the new guys can continue to be difference makers, it changes everything for the Canucks. But are these new guys for real? We’re about to find out.

More: The Canucks record in the Mike Gillis era, by the numbers

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21 Response to Canucks fans boo Mike Gillis, ignore reality

  1. CHRIS on November 7, 2013

    Keith Ballard. David Booth. A burdensome contract for Luongo. nThese are things that can't be ignored.

    Reply
    • Ian Lusher on November 7, 2013

      Here we go again! Every anti-Gillis critic points out Ballard and Booth. The Ballard trade was terrible, but every GM makes mistakes. I would argue that the Ehrhoff trade was a steal of epic proportions and the trades bringing in Lapierre and Higgins were solid. No GM in the league has signed players to team friendly contracts more so than Gillis. You mention Luongo (whose contract is long, but cap wise is very good…look how many goalies take up more cap space), but neglect to mention that Hamhuis, Bieksa, Garrison, the Sedins, Burrows, Kesler, & Edler are all signed longterm for below market. If you think there is a GM out there that never makes mistakes, you are kidding yourself.

      Reply
      • Betty Henderson on November 7, 2013

        Totally AGREE Ian. Great post ! I have always like Mike Gillis. He is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't. People LOVE to criticize, ANYTHING. People with knowledge and the power to reason, would NEVER Boo someone at such an event IN THE FIRST PLACE. I found that very upsetting, and completely embarrassing, for everyone, especially Mike Gillis.

        Reply
        • Mike Szczutkowski on November 9, 2013

          I am a big die hard Canucks fan since 1975 and it amazes me and pisses me off how other Canuck fans treat their team, I remember all the crap on the message boards about it was stupid to sign Richardson,Stanton,Santorelli now what do you numskulls have to say??????? I live in Northeastern US and I would love to live in Vancouver some of you fan need to realize what a great team you have and get behind the whole organization 100% I love the secondary scoring it takes a lot of pressure off of the top two lines which allows them to do what they are capable of easier. Please lay off of Luongo, that's another story of fans and media. Thank God for Center Ice. Go Canucks Go (yea that needs revamped).

          Reply
    • RobTheHockeyGuy on November 7, 2013

      I'm not ignoring them Chris. He had a bad couple of years. n nTo be fair to the Luongo contract, that contract would have been movable under the old CBA. It also allowed them to have a much lower cap hit which helped them build the best team in the league in 2011. I still believe that team should have won the cup in 2011. n nTo focus just on Gillis' bad moves is to ignore all the good moves he has made. And lately, he's made some excellent decisions.

      Reply
  2. goat on November 7, 2013

    Ballard was a bust, sure. With Booth, it's all about him being constantly injured. Not sure how that's Gillis' fault. Now…Kassian for Hodgson…could still work out, but hasn't thus far. And letting Mason Raymond walk away without getting anything doesn't look smart now, although he may not have had a lot of options.

    Reply
  3. Keefer on November 7, 2013

    I don't think Ballard was as much of a bust as people make him out to have been. He was used in a role very different from what he had in Florida, right from the get go, so shouldn't have been expected to put up 30 points +. Sure it hurts to lose a first rounder (Quinten Howden; 0P, 2 PIM in 18 games so far), but it wasn't a terrible move considering we were going to lose Grabner anyway (and Florida subsequently put him on waivers too). n nAnd letting Mason Raymond walk away without getting anything is a bad move? He wasn't producing and NO OTHER TEAM WANTED HIM, even as a free agent. He signed a PTO with Toronto, basically proof that his market value, at that point, was zero. n nHodgson for Kassian was a bad trade, but I'm convinced Cody asked for a trade, no matter what people may say. Maybe Kass will pick it up, but I think Buffalo got the best player in that trade. n nI think Gillis has been great, but for Ian to claim above that all those players are signed for below market value is a stretch. What determines market value? I would rank Gillis an 8/10 during his tenure so far.

    Reply
    • RobTheHockeyGuy on November 7, 2013

      Keefer: Ballard was a bust. It doesn't matter what the issue was, it was a bad move. Grabner could have been kept and they could have moved Raymond, which would not have been unheard of. If they wanted to trade a 1st round pick and Grabner, they should have got someone who was a better fit. That's on Gillis. n nThe market determines market value. It's easy to find comparables to show that the Sedins' contracts are bargains. Same with Kesler and Burrows' last contract. All their d-men are making $5 mil or less. I don't see how there's any way we can't call those bargains.

      Reply
    • CHRIS on November 7, 2013

      the hardest thing in the world about the Stanley Cup final loss in 2011 was when Ballard was moved up in the rotation to a top 4 Dman because of injuries & suspensions. And he was so lost out there, he barely looked like he knew how to play hockey.

      Reply
  4. Michael on November 8, 2013

    The 18500 people at the games should never be considered a representation of Canucks fans. Those are just the people who bought tickets to that game.

    Reply
    • RobTheHockeyGuy on November 8, 2013

      I was at the game. There wasn't a lot of booing, but there was enough for it to be noticeable. By no means do I think that ALL Canucks fans were booing or hate him.

      Reply
  5. Chris on November 8, 2013

    Actually I agree with your comment on the quality of the new guys and the good job to sign core guys to relatively cheap contracts. BUT… you mention that "This team isn’t a Presidents’ Trophy team anymore and they aren’t expected to win a Stanley Cup this year [...]". And then I think you need to answer the question whos fault this is, if not the fault of the GM? Isn't he supposed to improve the team with every move he makes? I know this might be wishful thinking, but I think it is worth discussing the question.

    Second question where I would be curious to get your opinions on is what are the changes why the team is no longer considered a contender? Aging players? Loss of key role players (who)? Better opposition?

    PS: sorry for any possible mistakes in my english, actually I'm a fan from Germany.

    Reply
    • RobTheHockeyGuy on November 8, 2013

      Hey Chris, your english is great! n nGillis has made some mistakes, no doubt. The team is worse off now than it was two years ago in part because of some of the bad mistakes he has made. If Gillis was GM for only two years and performed this way, I might be a little more nervous about his abilities. But I cut him a lot of slack because of the success he had in his first 3-4 seasons here. n nThey're no longer a Presidents' Trophy or Stanley Cup favourite now because they just don't have the depth of talent. Higgins-Santorelli-Burrows are playing well, but I don't envision that line to be good enough to win a Stanley Cup as a second line. I hope they prove me wrong.

      Reply
      • Maxwerm on November 11, 2013

        If he had started poorly and got progressively better, I think you'd be on to something. The problem is, he has gotten progressively worse over the years. Yes, he got Torts, but he also lost CS, and that was a move to cover his butt. We can debate over whether you think Raymond or Grabner would have been a better move, or whether Hodgson would be better for the team than Kassian, but the end result is this; The team is not as good as it was and is not as good as it could/should be. That's not Tort's fault, that 's not Lou's fault, that's not Kessler's fault, and it's damn sure not the fan's fault. The captain has to go down with his ship. Up to this point, he's been content to jump into the dingy and blame the boat sinking on everyone but himself.

        Reply
        • RobTheHockeyGuy on November 11, 2013

          So he gets penalized for building a great team in 2010-11? If they don't continue to improve for 10 straight years they should can the GM? I'm not really sure what you mean here…

          It's fine to think he's not a good GM, but the results on the ice cannot be disputed.

          Here's how the Canucks stack up against the other top teams over the 5 years Gillis has been the GM. I found the points they got in the regular season, and in the lockout shortened year I pro-rated it for an 82 game season.

          You've inspired me to write an article about this actually… You'll see it on the site tonight!

          Cheers

          Reply
          • Adriaan on December 1, 2013

            There are some good posts on here and I agree with you to some extent, however there are some things you did not take into account. First Gillis inhereited a great deal of the teams talent from previous regiems. The scouting and drafting has been a complete disaster. The Canucks have had several great seasons and the cup run was great to be a part of, however during that time they were in a laughable division. Gillis has done good by getting some of these players for a good deal but sacrificed good players as well. Booth and Ballard without those contracts we could have afforded to keep Erhoff who was a big part of our great 2011 season. Loosing Hodgeson for Kassian as it stands is a total bust especially since we need good scoring centers, Grabner would also be a nice addidtion if they found a way to keep him. Also on the getting the players for a bargain, well as much as I like Burrows 15 games without a goal, Kesler is not going to be the Selke trophy winner Kesler we have seen in the past. Santoreli is a great pick up but what does it say about our depth and the players we have on roster now when a guy making Santoreli's salary is a top 6 forward on the team. Defence is hit or miss as well I think Gillis should have traded Edler for some depth scoring. I like our D but it could be better, we dont really have a quater back type defenceman. Gillis should not have been booed that is disrespectful however I do not think he should be GM and president pick one.

  6. Steven on November 8, 2013

    I thought the boo'ing of Gillis was somewhat uncalled for as well but comparing Quinn to Gillis is pretty unfair. Pat Quinn has a different status in this city and for a good reason. Just like Trevor Linden does and Steamer as well. Quinn literally took this franchise and built it up to a contender from scratch. 3 out of the 4 retired numbers belonged to players brought into the franchise by Quinn. Any success that this franchise has had in the last 10 seasons is very easily traced back to Pat Quinn. MG has done a great job in Vancouver and there's no reason to not celebrate or respect that. Sorry but to try to bring Quinn down just to make your point is pretty pathetic.

    Reply
    • RobTheHockeyGuy on November 8, 2013

      Hey Steven, I'm not trying to bring Quinn down. I gave him a standing ovation, just with the rest of the crowd. He was great for the team. n nMy point is this: the people that boo Mike Gillis are clearly upset by the last few moves in the last couple of years. If those people also think Pat Quinn is a god, then they're not looking at the facts. Quinn had some good years (1991-94), some mediocre years (90-91, 94-96) and some bad years (88-91, 96-97). I'm not saying that Quinn should be looked down upon, just that a little perspective would be wise. That's all.

      Reply
  7. Bob McCammon on November 9, 2013

    I saw Gillis driving a yellow Camaro near Granville Island this summer, that should be grounds for booing IMO.

    Reply
    • dave on November 11, 2013

      maybe he was just test driving it and planning on putting an old school spaghetti skate logo on it.

      Reply
  8. age on December 1, 2013

    Gillis does not deserve to be publicly booed however he does not deserve to keep his job. I agree with you about the great bargain contracts he has signed but look at the production from the guys he has signed. We have no second line. Sadly we are a 1 line team and the rest of the league has figured it out, shut down the twins and you shut down the team. Nice that Gillis was able to sign people who arent putting up much in the way of production for a discount. I am a big Burrows fan he has done a lot but is his contract worth it right now in the midst of a 15 game goal less streak. What about Edler? Paying him a decent chunk of change and you never know what you are going to get from the guy. Stanton, Richardson and Santoreli are great additions for a great price but seriously how bad is it when these discount guys are among the top scoring on the team? Can you still say honestly that Gillis has done a good job. My opinion other than being able to sign players cheap he is a terrible GM. To many no trade clauses, wouldn't be an issue if they were all performing. You also did not say anything about the lack of prospects and the terrible drafting that has happened under Gillis. Letting players like Hodgson, Grabner and Erhoff go was a big mistake and look who we got in return Kassian, Booth and Ballard, kinda speaks for itself. I do hope Kassian makes me eat these words one day but as it stands I highly doubt it.

    Reply

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