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Gillis: Vigneault fired because results weren’t there

May 22, 2013, 7:04 PM EDT

Mike Gillis AP

“When I took the job five years ago, the assumption was that Alain was going to be fired,” Canucks GM Mike Gillis said.

They found a way to make it work then, but no longer.

So why did Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis decide to fire coach Alain Vigneault this time “after a thorough review?”

Simple: The results weren’t there.

The Vancouver Canucks have been terrific in the regular season, but they have only won a single postseason game over the last two years.

“The fact remains that we didn’t win the games we had to win in order to be successful,” Gillis said in a press conference today. “The message has to change and we have to be better.”

One area Gillis didn’t seem to appreciate questions about was the subject of Vigneault’s potential replacements.

“I know some people out there think this was a simple, easy decision to make — it’s not,” Gillis said. He intends to take his time before making a selection.

When pressed further, he got a bit more combative.

“Actually, I was gonna pull someone out of this room and hire them, offer them the job right now,” he remarked, according to the Vancouver Sun’s Harrison Mooney.

Regardless of who Gillis picks as the team’s next bench boss, that likely won’t be the only change that’s made this summer. As far as he’s concerned, everyone in the organization played a role in the Canucks recent shortcomings and “everyone will be addressed.”

“The NHL is changing and evolving rapidly,” Gillis added, which is consistent with the sentiment he expressed during his end of season press conference.

All the same, Gillis doesn’t think firing Vigneault will make him any more of a target. As far as he’s concerned, the pressure he’s been under has already been incredibly high for years.


Official: Canucks fire head coach Vigneault, assistants Bowness and Brown

Here’s an (updated) list of available NHL coaching candidates

  1. hammerhead5573 - May 22, 2013 at 7:21 PM

    Am I missing something here? This guy who clearly has made one bad decision after another is saying Vigneault wasn’t producing results? Ok I don’t care for the nucks, but even Luongo said his contract is horrible which is why they may be stuck with his contract yet again next year. Seems like maybe Gillis should be out the door too.

    • ikillchicken - May 22, 2013 at 8:07 PM

      With all due respect, Luongo is not a GM. He’s in no real position to say whether his contract is bad. He’s just repeating what actual GMs are saying to the Canucks. The same GMs who are actively trying to acquire him and whom it benefits to play up how supposedly terrible his contract is for the sake of negotiations. Lu’s contract carries some serious risk but it also gives you a very talented goalie at a mere 5.5M cap hit. It isn’t nearly as bad as people are pretending.

      • hammerhead5573 - May 22, 2013 at 8:28 PM

        I do not disagree with anything you said. And no-one forced Luongo to sign that contract. But if he realizes it’s bad, than how does this GM not realize how bad it was? 5.5mil is a huge cap hit if you consider the bigger picture. . But you bring up good points

      • stakex - May 22, 2013 at 8:37 PM

        You don’t need to be a fireman to know that a house is on fire. The argument that only a GM knows what a bad contract is is, no offense, laughable.

      • ikillchicken - May 22, 2013 at 10:12 PM

        I disagree. 5.5M is a fair bit but it’s a steal given his value. I mean, how many goalies can you name that are better with less than 5.5M cap hit? Maybe a couple guys in their early 20s with entry level deals still in effect. But otherwise, almost nobody. He’s making at least 1 – 2M less that most comparable goalies.

        Also, stakex, I don’t mean to say that only GMs can appraise how good or bad a contract is. Luongo’s opinion isn’t invalid because he isn’t a GM. However, it is hardly some definitive source either. Just because it’s his contract doesn’t make him the last word on whether it is bad or not. His opinion is really no more meaningful than anyone else here. What’s more, GMs are the ones who will decide whether to trade for him or not. Hence, their opinions are the ones that really matter here in a practical sense.

      • hockeyflow33 - May 22, 2013 at 10:41 PM

        The problem isn’t the money, its the NMC and length.

        I don’t really understand why the guy who signed the contract wouldn’t be able to tell you about it.

      • tycobbfromfangraphs - May 22, 2013 at 11:56 PM

        Ya, what’s the big deal about a “mere” 5.5m cap hit until 2021….

      • ikillchicken - May 23, 2013 at 12:26 AM

        Are you just deliberately being obtuse? Obviously I’m not saying the length isn’t a negative thing. In fact, I said quite clearly that this deal may well hurt a team in the long term. But in the short term, getting a player of Luongo’s calibre at a cap hit of 5.5M is a pretty great deal. Obviously GMs need to balance the potentially negative long term impact with the positive shorter term impact, but teams make moves all the time that will help them win now even if they’ll be harmful to their future so that is clearly far from being a deal breaker.

  2. bcisleman - May 22, 2013 at 7:22 PM

    I guess only the coach is responsible for results in Vancouver.

  3. 19to77 - May 22, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    The arrogance of this guy continues to astound me. You’re the one signing awful contracts and making awful trades. Vigneault didn’t build this failed roster.

  4. buckeye044 - May 22, 2013 at 8:03 PM

    Owner said “Gillis we have to make changes. You or coach must go”.
    Gillis said “I pick coach”

  5. ron05342 - May 22, 2013 at 8:25 PM

    Wait until next season when you no longer have the four weak sisters in your division but the likes of Anaheim, Los Angeles, and San Jose to compete with. Good luck with that, Vancouver. Will that also be on the coach?

    • kirkmcleansbaby - May 23, 2013 at 2:26 PM

      You do realize that the Canucks have had a WINNING record against the Pacific division over the last couple years!!! So there goes that point you made! lol Nice try though *facepalm*

  6. hsnepsts - May 22, 2013 at 8:57 PM

    I think AV was tired in Vancouver – I think the coaching change there was a year too late. But he is a great coach.

    I remember when AV was hired (06-07). It was also Luongo’s first year. Naslund and Morrison were old and useless, the Sedins were never going to be more than good second liners, and all the pundits had the Nucks finishing near the bottom. He adapted a totally defensive system, and we actually won the division, and lost in the second round to the eventual champs (Anaheim). Everyone called us a 1-man team (Luongo). That year, no team outworked Vancouver.

    The next year we had about 1million man-games lost to injury on defense, and we missed the playoffs.

    After that, the Sedins emerged, Kesler and Burrows emerged, and AV transformed the team into a puck-possession team and perenial contender. We won 5 division titles in a row, 2 presidents trophies, 1 hart, 2 art ross trophies, 1 jennings, and played in 10 playoff series.

    People regularly talk about “all that talent” on Vancouver, like its a team loaded with high draft picks and highly touted prospects. But that was never the case. The reality is that talent was nutrured under Vigneault. It was the same group of players that were considered not worthy before AV showed up. The Sedin’s had played 5 full seasons, and everyone figured that 70 points was the most you’d get from them. Burrows was a nobody, and Kesler was projected to be a 10~15 goal scorer. It was a team with a bleak future and few options. It shows you what hard work, patience and belief can do.

    I don’t think that Vigneault’s patience and grassroots team building work well with Gillis’ tendency to trade for old players.

    It’s time for AV to move on, but I believe he deserves the vast majority of the credit for the success this team has had. He took an average group of players and made them the most they could be, which was one step short of a championship.

  7. hsnepsts - May 22, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    MG’s worst:

    1) The Luongo deal – too long. the cash amount is okay, its just toooo long.

    2) Electing to keep Raymond instead of Grabner – why? why? why?

    3) How we handled the Luongo / Schneider situation.

    4) The Ballard deal – the coach was trying to build a system team, and you throw him a loose defenseman.

    5) The Roy trade – it was obvious to everyone that the nucks weren’t winning this year, so why toss away more future for nothing?

    6) Handling Hodgson. I dont mean the Kassian trade (the jury is still out on that trade). I mean how he handled it.

    I actually dont think the Booth trade was that bad. Not good, but not that bad.

    anything else?

    • kitshky - May 22, 2013 at 9:23 PM

      Just one comment, keep saying he simply chose Raymond or Grabner like they’ve completely rewritten history.

      Grabner would never have developed like he has if he was on a team that was even close to contending. Let’s not forget that Florida traded *for* him … and then cut him before the season even started, and the fact that he went through such a massive crisis of confidence that he regularly tweeted that he wasn’t worthy of playing in the NHL.

      Grabner got a (5th?) chance and finally took it, good on him, he seems like a solid guy and who doesn’t like it when good things happen to good people …but let’s not confuse the player he’s become (and more importantly how he’s become the player he is) and the fragile mess that he was.

      • kitshky - May 22, 2013 at 9:24 PM

        *people keep saying…. (didn’t mean it to come off as rude)

    • windmiller4 - May 22, 2013 at 9:37 PM

      How about Gillis’ poor job drafting?

    • ikillchicken - May 22, 2013 at 10:43 PM

      1) Would it really be any better if we shaved off some years though? Let’s say we take off the last four years. Now he’s a 33 year old goalie under contract for 5 more years instead of 9 but with a cap hit of 7.1M (or more realistically, 7.5M+ since he may demand more money if the length is shorter) instead of 5.5M. Is that really so much easier to move? Perhaps a little. But not significantly. I actually think we’re better off with a guy who is a better asset now even if he hurts you more down the road. And don’t forget that on top of that with a higher cap hit for Lu we’ve got to cut 2M in salary going back to 2011. Do you think we’d have made it to the finals without Higgins and Lappy in 2011?

      2) Raymond was coming off a 25 goal season. I don’t know how you can say we shouldn’t have kept him. And that in turn meant there wasn’t really a spot for Grabner who at that point really had not been able to stick at all as an NHL player. I agree, its frustrating that the Canucks could never really get Grabner to click the way he did in NY but hindsight is 20/20. At the time, this wasn’t as bad a move at all to cut him loose.

      3) Lu is a professional. It’s unfortunate a move didn’t happen but if he has to wait a year he’ll wait.Giving him away for virtually nothing would have been foolish. It would have done nothing but made our team worse. If we couldn’t get something to help us now then might as well wait till summer. Plus, I don’t think anyone was complaining when Schneids got hurt and Lu was the difference between us starting the playoffs with Joe Cannata.

      4) Yeah. No argument there. Terrible move. Worst one Gillis has made.

      5) I don’t know. It’s easy to say that in retrospect after a disappointing playoff flop. But would you really have just flat out given up on this team? Because that’s basically what we’d have been doing going into the playoffs without adding a center. It’s easy too to look back in retrospect and claim that the team was “never gonna go anywhere” but at the time I don’t think that was nearly so apparent. We had an average year but a lot working against us too. It was worth taking a gamble that we’d pull it together come playoff time and will the addition of Kesler and Roy.

      6) Maybe. If a player is going to be a problem I never really saw why its the GMs duty to hide it and act like they were an angel. Maybe it would have been better to just stay out of it though. So perhaps a fair point if not a major one.

      Keep in mind too, Gillis has made a mountain of good moves too. Hamhuis, Garrison, Malhotra, Erhoff, Tanev, Higgins, Lapierre. Plus resigning Sedins, Kesler, Burr, Bieksa, and Edler all at below market value. It’s gonna be a challenging summer for him. He needs to find a 3rd line center and finally close the book on Lu. If he doesn’t I’ll start doubting him. For now though I still feel pretty positive overall.

  8. blomfeld - May 22, 2013 at 11:39 PM


    People forget that Gillis was a ‘premiere’ jerk during his days as a player agent, despised by pretty much most of the league’s GM’s. Then he sniveled into the Canuck GM gig while furtively conspiring with the Aquilinis right under Dave Nonis’ nose like some brazen rat. And listening to him on TEAM 1040 ever since, his demeanor and personality have always oozed with unabashed arrogance, disdain and contempt. They said once that “all roads lead to Rome”. Well I would submit that all of the Canuck’s problems lead to none other than Mike Gillis …

  9. gbar22 - May 23, 2013 at 3:27 AM

    Who cares about luongo’s contract? It’s an excuse cause really its not that bad cap wise. Brodeur has continued to play into his 40’s at a decent enough level even getting his team to a finals last season. The bigger issue in my opinion was asking for the moon and the stars for luongo. He could have taken a lesser deal compensation wise in a trade and still come out on top because then their wouldn’t have been that 10 ton gorilla in the room hovering over the entire team. It was a needless distraction and the team was doomed to fail because of it. If he wanted a higher return trade Schneider either way the Canucks could have come out on top. Gillis should be canned just because of the botched goalie situation.

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