Feb 092009
Feb 042009

Like any good relationship who has just had a fight, they talked it over and cleared things up. And after the game-day skate yesterday, Shane O’Brien apologized.

From Ben Kuzma (Vancouver Province):

Instead of driving his career into the ditch, Shane O’Brien took the high road Tuesday.

The Vancouver Canucks defenceman clarified his comments over the frustration of being a healthy scratch Saturday and not understanding the message that he must play tougher and not necessarily fight. O’Brien met with general manager Mike Gillis on Tuesday morning to map out the right route for his eventual return to the lineup. It’s a far cry from Monday when O’Brien indicated that this might not even be the right situation or place for his career to flourish.

“I feel bad about saying that,” said O’Brien. “I didn’t want to make it seem like I’m quitting on my team or anything like that. I still believe I can be a solid defenceman in this league and every player has to think that or you don’t have a chance. Maybe they don’t think that now, but I’m going to prove that I can play the minutes I can play.”

In a meeting with management last week, O’Brien was told that he must cut down on bad penalties and be more willing to play physical. Something was obviously lost in translation because O’Brien believed the message also indicated that he didn’t fight enough.

“I’m frustrated right now with the way things are going,” added O’Brien, who is 5-0 in scraps this season, has only taken eight minors in the last 14 games and is a plus-7. “It gives me no right to say something that was said in a private meeting. The way I said it or the way you [media] took it was incorrect. Mike Gillis never told me I have to fight. He was just talking to me about playing physical and maybe I took it the wrong way. I want to be in the lineup and nobody likes losing and it’s a tough situation. I didn’t help it by doing what I did and I apologized to my teammates because it’s selfish.”

Mike Gillis also accepted partial responsibility for the miscommunication.

From Brad Ziemer (Vancouver Sun):

Gillis said he met with O’Brien Tuesday morning to clarify last week’s meeting. Gillis said although he was disappointed that O’Brien discussed what was intended to be a private meeting with the media, he accepts partial responsibility because it is obvious O’Brien left that meeting confused.

“It’s partly my responsibility that he didn’t leave that meeting with complete clarity because that was the purpose of it,” Gillis said. “We were absolutely clear when he asked us if what we wanted him to do was fight, we said no. What we want him to do is get committed to conditioning, get committed to moving his feet and we want him to be a better player that we can trust. He took that somehow to mean we wanted him to fight and it’s absolutely baffling to us.”

Time to move on.

Feb 022009

Despite the Canucks’ horrendous play this past month and 8-game losing streak, it’s crazy to think that they are still in playoff contention. A quick look at the standings this morning confirm that – with 52 points in 50 games, they sit in 11th place, but are only a single point from 8th and 3 points away from 5th. They have two games in hand over 5th place Anaheim (55 points in 52 games), but have played more games than Dallas (53 points in 48 games), Minnesota and Edmonton (both 53 points in 49 games).

The Canucks should consider themselves lucky. I know it sounds funny, but for the team to go into a funk as much as they have and still be within reach of the postseason is lucky. Maybe this accounts for Mike Gillis’ patience, a patience that’s at it’s end but patience nonetheless. Maybe this is why the coach hasn’t been fired or Ohlund hasn’t been traded. I just hope it’s patience rewarded and the team turns it around. Or if the ineffective play continues and Gillis does decide to shake things up, that it’s not too late.

Jan 282009
Nov 272008
Sep 192008

It’s no secret that the Vancouver Canucks need more offense, but as training camp starts today with no Mats Sundin in sight, Mike Gillis has started selling Canucks fans with a youth movement.

Increasingly over the last little while, Gillis, in his interviews, has started repeating the same message. Listen closely. You’ll hear how he thinks the Keslers, Raymonds and Bieksas are ready to take on more responsibility and how he thinks the Grabners and Hodgsons are ready to take the next step in their development. You’ll hear how he thinks they should be given this opportunity because, after all, we wouldn’t have found out how good Alex Edler was if not for the same opportunity last year. Not that I don’t think the younger players are ready, but perhaps I’m a bit jaded because of we’ve all heard the same sales job the last couple of years. (I mean, where are Jesse Schultz and Tommi Santala now?)

I have no doubt that Gillis is actively working the phones trying to improve this team; however, I’m sure he’s also finding out exactly how hard this is to do. Every team in the league knows what he’s looking for so he’s not exactly dealing from a position of strength. Now, in the event that he doesn’t land a top-six forward (or two), he wants Canucks fans to start thinking that going with youth maybe isn’t such a bad thing. But are Canucks fans ready to accept that?

Sep 162008

I missed this tidbit from Ed Willes (Vancouver Province) yesterday:

Canucks GM Mike Gillis has said he isn’t finished building his team and, with $10 million in cap space, he has the freedom to move in a couple of different directions. But it will also be interesting to compare what Gillis does with the plan Dave Nonis had laid out before he was fired.

Nonis told Canucks’ ownership he would add three forwards and let Markus Naslund go through free agency. Swedish free agent Fabian Brunnstrom was committed to signing with the Canucks. Nonis was also going to trade the Canucks’ first-round draft pick this summer, which probably would have landed the Kings’ Mike Cammalleri. And he was going to move a defenceman, likely Kevin Bieksa, and/or prospects for another proven scorer. Hello, Olli Jokinen.

As we know, Mike Gillis did this instead:

Gillis, for his part, has improved the Canucks’ fourth line and added Pavol Demitra and Steve Bernier while losing Naslund and Brendan Morrison. As mentioned, he said he isn’t finished but the Canucks with Brunnstrom, Cammalleri and another top-six forward would be causing a lot more excitement in this market than their current lineup.

The funny thing about Willes’ piece is that he compared what Nonis would have done against what Gillis actually did. Gillis also planned to get Mats Sundin so put it this way – a lineup with the Sedins and Bernier on one line and Mats Sundin and Demitra on another would be causing, IMHO, more excitement than Jokinen, Cammalleri and Brunnstom. Plus, the Canucks don’t lose a top-10 pick in a deep draft and still have Cody Hodgson, who by the way was impressive again last night at the rookie tournament, in the system.

The truth is, I’m not completely sold on Mike Gillis just yet, but this sort of comparison isn’t fair. If you want to compare the two GM’s, then starting on October 9th, let’s look at what Gillis’ roster does and compare it to what Nonis’ roster did. (Yeah, I’m looking at you Brad Isbister.)

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