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Gillis pleads his case: ‘We are enduring a challenging period’

Mar 10, 2014, 5:26 PM EDT

Mike Gillis

The following is a letter sent from Canucks GM Mike Gillis to ticket holders, in the wake of last week’s Roberto Luongo trade and Ryan Kesler non-trade:

Our mission remains the same: to win the Stanley Cup. Last summer we said we had to make some changes to our team. We need to get younger, faster and stronger to succeed. That process is happening now, as we look to retool by surrounding our veteran stars with new, young talent. You can look at Anaheim as a recent example of a team that has retooled successfully.

Trading Roberto was not an easy decision. We are grateful for his tremendous contribution to our team and city, and we wish him much success. But the moves we’ve made go beyond goaltending. We are now younger and we are getting deeper. We’ve added a big, strong 6’4″ centre in Shawn Matthias, who is excited to be here and will help this team now. And we believe in our talented group of prospects, including Bo Horvat, Nicklas Jensen, Frank Corrado, Dane Fox, Brendan Gaunce and Hunter Shinkaruk, who will be part of our short and long-term success. We are also well positioned financially, having created over $5 million in cap room to make the right deals for this team. That’s in addition to the $7 million we expect the salary cap to increase next season.

We approached the deadline with long-term success in mind. We were prepared to make a hockey deal on trade deadline day, not a short-term fix. The players offered at the deadline did not fit our vision of where we want our team to go. We need to get younger and more balanced to be more competitive, and we didn’t see the right players to accomplish that goal. We are not willing to compromise our long-term vision for the sake of change.

We are committed to putting a winning team on the ice for you. Our ownership is supportive and will invest whatever it takes to bring the Cup to Vancouver. As we move towards this goal we will continue to invest in your arena and Canucks fan experience.

Thank you again for your continued support. We are enduring a challenging period, but your passion makes it possible for us to put our team in a position to compete. Our organization is committed to doing whatever it takes to win, and we want you to be here with us when we achieve our goal.

The letter comes with Gillis under heavy fire and his job security coming into question. The former player agent hasn’t had much success since winning GM of the Year in 2011, and is facing public backlash among Canuck fans. What’s more, rumors surfaced following the trade deadline that trading Kesler was nixed by Canucks ownership, suggesting Gillis had lost some (if not all) of his decision-making ability — a claim the GM refuted.

Vancouver currently sits 10th in the Western Conference, four points back of Dallas for the final wild card spot. The Canucks haven’t missed the playoffs in six years.

Related: Bieksa doesn’t think ‘the ship is actually going down’ in Vancouver

  1. lowenni - Mar 10, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    I really think Gillis has the right idea here. He’s f’ed up in the past, but now with the situation he’s in the team can “retool”, they don’t need to rebuild. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them back in the playoffs next year. They’ve still got a good core.

    • lowenni - Mar 10, 2014 at 8:49 PM

      Apparently the only way you can get thumbs on Nucks articles is if you write, “Torts is an idiot” or “Gillis is an idiot” or “The Nucks are horrible”…forgive my actual insight into a turning point in this team.

      • comeonnowguys - Mar 11, 2014 at 9:29 AM

        It’s the internet. If you go over to their sister football site, you’ll see numerous thumbs downs when someone dies and a commenter offers condolences.

    • blomfeld - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:54 PM


      it’s quite another to be ‘disingenuous’ excrement … the bottom line is that Gillis is now ‘finished’ and he’s going to be replaced by comrade Tortorella as supreme Coach & GM of the Vancouver Canucks this summer ! … what goes around always comes around there Mikey boy … :)

      Excrement: waste material, especially fecal matter, that is expelled from the body after digestion (source: Bill Webster’s Dictionary)

      GO GILLIS ‘FREE’ CANUCKS GO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. joey4id - Mar 10, 2014 at 5:41 PM

    Last year the Nucks were the 20th oldest team. This year they are 18th oldest. Not young enough.

    • hosewater2 - Mar 10, 2014 at 6:41 PM

      Your third sentence: is there a known correlation between playoff success and being younger?

    • elvispocomo - Mar 10, 2014 at 7:39 PM

      Another year older for the core yet they got younger overall? Did you account for Matthias (26) and Markstrom (24) moving out Luongo (34)? Hey, it’s going in the right direction and likely to do even more so next year.

  3. tronn25 - Mar 10, 2014 at 5:45 PM

    Watching this train wreck has been amazing. *Grabs Popcorn* Please continue with the show…

    • joey4id - Mar 10, 2014 at 6:03 PM

      Yep! I’ve been eating the popcorn and watching the train wreck since I predicted it would happen back when Torts was hired. They are going to have a serious conversation about whether or not they should stick with him. Personally I think he’s not the right coach for the way the game is played to day.

  4. joey4id - Mar 10, 2014 at 5:51 PM

    Signing the twins was a good marketing move to satisfy the season ticket holders. Not sure it was a good on ice move though. Their 33 years old with a combined cap hit of 14 million.

    • tas750 - Mar 10, 2014 at 6:17 PM

      Not to mention Gillis has been saying game has changed AWAY fron skill players to a dump & grind dirty goal game, enjoy the aging twins

      • joey4id - Mar 10, 2014 at 6:21 PM

        Well! Take that with a grain of salt. Look at all the top teams. Blues, Hawks, Avs, Pens, Bruins, Ducks, Sharks, Habs… all have talented players. The key is, and always has been…. Find the proper balance of offense and defense. All the above mentioned teams play very well without the puck.

      • vanindeed - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:41 PM

        all the Canucks didn’t get old overnight. It’s the system in place currently

    • storminator16 - Mar 10, 2014 at 8:37 PM

      Not to mention they’ve been in obvious decline.

  5. credible316 - Mar 10, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    Torts sure knows how to get the best out of his guys. What a clown.

  6. rushledger - Mar 10, 2014 at 6:07 PM

    They lost both goalie trades to me personally. Markstrom isn’t the prospect we thought he was as his stock has gone down, one forward in addition to that doesn’t seem great for what Luongo can do for a team at least during the regular season.

    Then last year they give up another starting level goalie in Schneider for one single draft pick, yes it’s a first but that’s still low and if they kid doesn’t pan out you gave away Schneider for free basically.

    • imleftcoast - Mar 10, 2014 at 6:13 PM

      One 2011 SCF team is second in the East, and the other can’t make the playoffs. I’d add that the Luongo trade was so hard to make due to Gillis signing an agreement in defiance of the League office. He can whine and complain about circumstances, but signing that deal and a bunch of others with NTCs is a lot of the predicament.

      • thesportsjudge - Mar 10, 2014 at 9:40 PM

        First in the East.

  7. phillyphanatic77 - Mar 10, 2014 at 6:12 PM

    Using Anaheim as an example comparable to the Canucks situation is a longshot. First off, the Ducks had about 4 legitimate NHL talents in net (Fasth has since been traded, Gibson isn’t up yet). Vancouver has Eddie Lack, a borderline starter, and now Markstrom, who has upside but hasn’t shown enough at the NHL level. Secondly, the Ducks two main stars are 28, not 33 and currently unproductive like the Sedins. And the Ducks have a prospect base that far exceeds the talent level in the Canucks system. The Ducks marquee players didn’t want to leave like Kesler and Luongo wanted… it just seems that Gillis is delusional and living in his own world. The Canucks are a borderline playoff team that is trending downward. And most of the issues seem to stem from Gillis himself.

    It’s time for change in Vancouver bc the future doesn’t look very bright.

    • hosewater2 - Mar 10, 2014 at 6:45 PM

      I agree with you, need the core guys to be younger. Can’t use up cap space on sentimentality, so Ottawa letting Alfredsson go was good IMO, and I would have applied the same logic to the Sedins, even if the season tix holders don’t like it. That said, Gillis was smart to turn Pitt down for what was allegedly being offered for Kesler. Sutter may already be a bust.

  8. crazemastercraze - Mar 10, 2014 at 6:42 PM

    “We are enduring a challenging period”. He makes it sound like Vancouver was struck with some sort of hockey management virus that just has to run its course. Everything was created by him and ownership, the sooner they are willing to admit it and take real responsibility for it the sooner the team can really regroup preferably without Gillis and Tortarella. Who would want to play there even if they have the money available for free agent signings? No one decent would want to be part of the rebuild train wreck this team has become.

  9. shortsxit34 - Mar 10, 2014 at 7:28 PM

    This letter reminds me of when you were a kid and did something bad…you immediately ran home and told your mom what happened just so she wouldn’t hear it from somebody else’s mom, hoping that you wouldn’t be in as much trouble if she heard it from you first.

  10. jovocop2112 - Mar 10, 2014 at 9:28 PM

    Because sending a letter to fans was so successful for Steve Tambellini…

  11. rrsm53 - Mar 11, 2014 at 6:58 AM

    Since my Bruins cleaned their clocks in the Finals a couple of years ago it has been all downhill since for the Canucks, Luongo lost it never found it again, Schnieder was their goalie of the future but Gillis blew that one also.

    You have to change with the times Gillis to bad your head is still stuck up your rear end. Enjoy your mess you tool.

    • comeonnowguys - Mar 11, 2014 at 9:32 AM

      Maybe it’s the fact that they blew their wad in that opening series against a cap-purged Chicago team.

      The Cup? Secondary to “slaying the dragon.”

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