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Who will the Canucks hire as their next GM?

Apr 8, 2014, 3:44 PM EDT

Francesco Aquilini AP

After Mike Gillis’ stunning fall from grace — fired 33 months after winning the NHL’s GM of the Year award — there’s now one major question facing Vancouver:

Who’s replaces him?

A shortlist of candidates for your consideration…

Markus Naslund

The former Canuck captain has his No. 19 hanging from the Rogers Arena rafters and boasts some front office experience, having recently resigned as GM of Swedish League outfit MoDo. Walking away from that gig sparked rumors that a move to Vancouver was in the cards but, as of today, Naslund offered no comment as to whether he’d be joining the organization in any capacity.

(It’s worth noting that another ex-Canuck, Trevor Linden, has seen his name appear in connection with a potential front-office gig, though reportedly as team president.)

Laurence Gilman

Gillis’ assistant and right-hand man in Vancouver for the last six years, Gilman has been Vancouver’s “capologist” — the numbers guy, praised for his ability to keep the team under the cap and having negotiated some of the club’s better financial deals. Gilman has extensive NHL front office experience, having served as assistant GM in Phoenix for five years before moving to the Canucks.

Gilman has reportedly been told he’ll be retained Vancouver.

Paul Fenton

David Poile’s assistant in Nashville has long been considered the next quality GM in waiting. The Poile managerial tree has already produced current Pens GM Ray Shero — winner of the 2013 NHL General Manger of the Year Award — and Fenton is largely credited with leading Nashville’s drafts from 2003-08, during which time they selected Shea Weber, Pekka Rinne, Kevin Klein and Patric Hornqvist.

Jason Botterill

Botterill currently serves as Shero’s assistant in Pittsburgh and, like Gilman in Vancouver, is known as the Pens’ cap specialist and has been instrumental in designing deals to keep a number of Pittsburgh’s high-priced players in place. He was interviewed for the vacant Buffalo GM gig that eventually went to Tim Murray.

Joe Will

The assistant GM in San Jose, Will received high praise from Doug Wilson upon being promoted from director of hockey ops in 2011, and sounds like a jack-of-all-trades:

One of his most important duties involves the tracking, analyzing and projecting of the team’s player payroll relative to the current and future National Hockey League salary cap to give the team the financial flexibility to ice a championship-caliber team each season.

Will also works with the organization’s professional scouts and management team in player research for expansion, waivers, free agency and trades. His expert analysis of economic trends in the NHL has led to the Sharks acquisition and retention of several key veteran players over his time with the club.

The general consensus around Will is that he’s largely responsible for finding value players as well as unearthing talent. The likes of Tommy Wingels (6th round, 2008), Jason Demers (7th round pick, 2008), Matt Irwin (undrafted) and Justin Braun (7th round, 2007) are good examples of that handiwork.


– Tom Fitzgerald, assistant to the general manager (Shero) in Pittsburgh.

– Julien BriseBois, Steve Yzerman’s assistant in Tampa Bay.

— Don Sweeney, Peter Chiarelli’s assistant in Boston.

— Jim Benning, another of Chiarelli’s assistants in Boston, that also played in Vancouver from 1988-90.

— Norm Maciver, Stan Bowman’s assistant in Chicago.

— Ron Hextall, Paul Holmgren’s assistant in Philly.

— Mike Futa, L.A.’s director of scouting.

— Jay Feaster, former Calgary and Tampa Bay GM.

  1. stcrowe - Apr 8, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    It should not be someone from within the organization. They need a fresh mind.

  2. muckleflugga - Apr 8, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    he’s already hired … his name is trevor linden

    • blomfeld - Apr 8, 2014 at 4:28 PM

      sorry Flugga .. there’s ‘zero’ chance for Linden, as he’s simply too dumb and naive for the GM position … nonetheless, I could see him being taken on ‘temporarily’ in some sort of a PR capacity … you know, to rally the faithful and stem the bleeding, etc …

  3. imleftcoast - Apr 8, 2014 at 3:56 PM

    Markus Naslund makes sense. Otherwise, I think Pat Quinn, Bob Nicholson and Ron Francis make more sense than your list.

    • kaptaanamerica - Apr 8, 2014 at 4:14 PM

      Nicholson sucks, that idiot was responsible when Canada kept losing on the international ice. Hate that guy. Naslund has no experience as an executiven in the league. We need someone who is solid under a good gm for a good organization. The way Montreal picked up bergevin, Boston picked up chiarelli, Dallas picked up Nill, Tampa got yzerman, etc… pat Quinn is a f#ing dinosaur. How can anyone with a clue recommend Patty Quinn? He was responsible for getting rid of larionov for no good reason, although he did get Bure. Time to get someone who had learned.

      Also, Aquilinis need to stay the f away from the hockey operations and management.Let the professional run the team.

      • mikebel11 - Apr 8, 2014 at 5:34 PM

        During Nicholson’s tenure as president and CEO of Hockey Canada, Canada won seven Olympic gold medals, twelve world junior titles, five men’s world championships and ten women’s world championships. Ya he sucks.

      • kaptaanamerica - Apr 8, 2014 at 6:02 PM

        You’re g+dang right he sucks. In my opinion, He was responsible for the debacle in Nagano and Turin. Him and his cronies are responsible for setting up the management team that lead to the losses by the men’s junior teams and senior teams, all on international ice. Hockey Canada is a shiite organization where you have to know somebody or be bum buddies to get ahead. Even the players know it. Guys like Marc Savard didn’t get a shot at team Canada when he was healthy even though he was one of the top if not the best setup guy when he was at his prime. Lots of solid players got the shaft cuz Bob and buddies were running the show. I’d rather have a guy in charge who doesn’t just do favours for his friends.

      • mikebel11 - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:37 AM

        Well you’ve convinced me, those two misses at the Olympics totally outweigh the 34 championships I listed. And with Vancouver’s international sized ice surface, it’s bound to be a failure.

    • blomfeld - Apr 8, 2014 at 4:34 PM

      apparently Nicholson is in Vancouver today, however I doubt if he has any serious chance …

  4. bigtganks - Apr 8, 2014 at 4:09 PM

    Please Bob Nicholson. Rogers Arena fans… start cheering that outside FA’s office. :) The cheering works.

    • stcrowe - Apr 8, 2014 at 4:23 PM

      Bob Nicholson is a classy guy, but he hasn’t been working in the NHL. One of the advantages of finding someone that has experience as a GM, or assistant GM, is that they have experience working on deals with player agents and other GMs. Look at GIllis. His prior experience was as a player agent. There is a learning curve.

  5. hosewater2 - Apr 8, 2014 at 4:32 PM

    You can’t hire a guy you can’t later fire…so Linden and Naslund should be out.

    File under “Why isn’t Ryne Sandberg manager of the Cubs?”

  6. selldannysell - Apr 8, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    We’ll trade you George McPhee for a bag of pucks!

    • phillyphanatic77 - Apr 8, 2014 at 5:02 PM

      GMGM may be next in line to be relieved of his duties, but IDK who’d want him. The Canucks need a fresh, young mind, not necessarily a recycled name.

  7. gbart22 - Apr 8, 2014 at 4:48 PM

    Ramsay in Pittsburgh has been really over rated. He hasn’t made many good moves either and he’s signed players that looked like plagues but he has the luxury of having the best player in all of hockey anywhere in the world and arguably another top 5 player in the world in Malkin not to mention letang. I personally don’t think Ramsey has been all that impressive.

    In a previous blog I saw the author mention Chicago in relation to Vancouver’s drafts and I feel that’s unfair as Chicago has two 3 young superstars in their prime in Kane toews and Keith plus a plethora of really good players from sucking for so long so they had a deep farm system. Vancouver for the most part since those ugly black sweater naslund Morrison bertuzzi days has been a decent team with only a few missed playoff seasons sprinkled in. Is that an excuse for producing very little no but we don’t know what gillis’s players will look like in some cases might not know until they are 23-24 years old like Detroit does with most of it’s prospects.

    • killerpgh - Apr 8, 2014 at 4:55 PM


  8. muckleflugga - Apr 8, 2014 at 4:51 PM

    no need to apologize blommer … kissing the ring will suffice

    insofar as linden being naïve or stupid, his business seems to be thriving in a field that sees them come and go … business acumen and connections in current manager ranks comprised of many among linden’s peerage makes sense

    trevor linden always seemed universally respected … in contrast mark messier’s polarizing nature would restrict his relationship within the inner sanctums of the old boy network

    and, using gillis as the best example, when did common sense in the hiring process employed by team ownership come into play

    in the least, linden may serve an interim function much as lafontaine served in buffalo … like lafontaine were he chosen to do so, he may be hard to pry out

    as for tortorella, the move into a dual role may play but the disaster will be complete

    • soro17 - Apr 8, 2014 at 4:55 PM

      Linden for Prez, Messier for GM. Ron Delorme out.

      • kaptaanamerica - Apr 8, 2014 at 6:06 PM

        F Messier, that scum bag should be banned from ever entering the province.

    • blomfeld - Apr 8, 2014 at 5:14 PM

      friend … there’s no question that Linden is a nice person and that his ‘cache’ here means something … in fact, that’s probably the main reason why his fitness club venture has thus far been able to defy the odds … nonetheless, I do suspect that Torts is now going to get both the Coach & GM gig, crazy as that may be …

      • soro17 - Apr 8, 2014 at 5:22 PM

        It was sarcasm, hence the Messier reference, because we all know that those two got along so well. Having said that, Linden is more than just a nice guy, he is more articulate, thoughtful and hard-working than 95% of the guys in the league (think back to his key role with the NHLPA – most guys can’t be bothered, let alone be intelligent enough to follow along).

  9. killerpgh - Apr 8, 2014 at 4:53 PM

    Will some team please hire Pierre McGuire so I don’t have to listen to him on TV. Thanks in advance if the Canucks make this happen.

    • hosewater2 - Apr 8, 2014 at 5:30 PM

      Wait…McGuire or Milbury??

      • killerpgh - Apr 8, 2014 at 6:18 PM

        I think a snow flake has a better chance of not melting in Hell the Milbury has at ever becoming a GM again. But if a team would be foolish enough to want to set the franchise back decades I wouldn’t be upset never seeing that douche on the air ever again.

  10. clarke16 - Apr 8, 2014 at 4:56 PM

    Think of the biggest fool you can with a few scars on his face–that’s the only person who would take this job. As long as Francesco fancies himself a hockey man–nobody worth their stripes would step into a leadership structure doomed to failure like that one.

    • imleftcoast - Apr 8, 2014 at 5:06 PM

      It would take chutzpah. Francesco thinks he’s the hockey man, and Luigi think he’s the numbers guy. Franceso hired Torts and his ‘system’, and Luigi is going to pay $8 million to Gillis and maybe $8m to Torts b/c someone signed him for 5 years.

      • clarke16 - Apr 8, 2014 at 5:33 PM

        If the canuckles were a stock–you’d make crazy money shorting it right now… :) It’s got a long way to fall before it gets better. Goodbye for now to one of the worries in the western conference. Thank you, Francesco…and God bless…

    • imleftcoast - Apr 8, 2014 at 5:46 PM

      Vancouver media is trying to throw Jay Feaster’s name into the ring.

      • kaptaanamerica - Apr 8, 2014 at 6:08 PM

        Vancouver media fing sucks, those idiots have zero clue about what’s going on

  11. muckleflugga - Apr 8, 2014 at 5:38 PM


    i’ll defer to your wisdom and proximity to the scene of the grime … if it ain’t four-legged my ability to predict outcomes is used by my friends is always as an inverse barometer regardless

    off topic, but why are the los angeles kings called kings … you might know

    • blomfeld - Apr 8, 2014 at 9:50 PM

      Comrade Flugga … Jack Kent Cooke wanted his new hockey club to take on an air of royalty, hence the name Kings … nonetheless, I’m also convinced that ‘reverence’ to Elvis may have been part of his thinking too ? :)

  12. muckleflugga - Apr 8, 2014 at 5:42 PM

    nicholson’s timely resignation may have been precipitated by an understanding he had a job in vancouver …

    global hockey connections with a line into the nhl’s inner sanctum

    it’s all starting to make sense

  13. bilbono - Apr 8, 2014 at 5:44 PM

    Who makes the decision for hiring a GM? The owners?

    • clarke16 - Apr 8, 2014 at 5:56 PM

      Yes. Francesco will bar the door, slip on his ruby slippers and pull out his magic snow globe–and won’t again emerge until his choice is clear on who will be next to lead the franchise straight into the shi**er… :)

  14. blomfeld - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:03 AM

    Breaking News …


    It’s now being reported tonight that the Vancouver Canucks will announce the hiring of Bob Nicholson and Trevor Linden tomorrow morning (1030 hours PST) as their new club GM and President respectively. Both parties (currently in town) have been maintaining complete ‘radio silence’ this evening as per directed by Aquilini Investments. Further updates to follow shortly.

    Source: Blomfeld & Wo Fat Intelligence & Entertainment Systems LLC

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