Mike Gillis didn't know if he would be back next season as the General Manager of the Vancouver Canucks when he spoke about it last week. Now he knows: He won't be.
On Tuesday the Canucks fired Gillis as the President and GM.
"On behalf of my entire family, I would like to sincerely thank Mike Gillis for his hard work and the many contributions he made on and off the ice during his tenure,” said Francesco Aquilini, Chairman, Canucks Sports & Entertainment.
"The Vancouver Canucks had success under Mike's leadership, and we nearly reached our ultimate goal; but I believe we have reached a point where a change in leadership and new voice is needed.” "I also want to thank our fans for their support for the Vancouver Canucks through a difficult and frustrating season," continued Aquilini. "We haven't met their expectations or ours. We are committed to bringing the Stanley Cup to Vancouver for our fans and we will continue to do everything possible to reach that goal."
It's rather amazing how fast it has all gone downhill in Vancouver for Gillis and company. It was not even three years ago that Gillis was named the GM of the Year after overseeing a Canucks team that reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2011.
Since that time the Canucks' records have been trending the wrong way and so have their playoff fortunes. They were crushed in the first round in 2012 by the eighth-seeded Kings (who we would later learn were not your average eight seed) and the same fate met them last year against the Sharks. This season? They won't even make the playoffs. It's not the direction you want a team to be headed.
That downward momentum led to the dismissal of Alain Vigneault as the coach, hoping for a new voice and new direction. With John Tortorella replacing him, it has at times looked like the Canucks were trying to fit a square peg into a round hole and the team was having a bit of an identity crisis.
Gillis had spoke last offseason about trying to build a bigger, tougher team that was in the mold of other Western squads. But then just last week he was saying he wanted to get back to the way the Canucks were playing. It sounded all along like he was acting on the marching orders from above, not his own, and that his wish was to play the style that made them successful. Now who knows which direction they'll go.
Gillis took over six years ago as the GM and did make some key moves in building the Cup finalist but he also inherited some big pieces, including the Sedins. What drew a lot of attention in the past two years was the handling of the goaltenders and how a year ago at this time they had both Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo while now they have neither, both being traded.
Earlier on Tuesday rumors started to pop up about the Canucks looking to add former star Trevor Linden to the front office. Gillis' dismissal will only ramp those up.