New blood

It appears as though the Canucks have their new GM all but confirmed.

Much to the pleasure of his Vancouver media cheerleader, Tony Gallagher, the Canucks are poised to announce “super agent” Mike Gillis to the post, as early as today.

This may come as a surprise to some, particularly if you made note of owner Francesco Aquilini’s stated commitment during his rambling press conference, announcing the dismissal of Dave Nonis, to bring in someone with experience. I suppose Gillis’ ‘experience’ as a player agent and former NHL player would count, provided you are comfortable with equivocation and verbal sleights of hand.

At any rate, the hiring of Gillis immediately invites two comparisons to recent hirings of otherwise inexperienced player agents: one, to the ill-fated experiment in Phoenix with Mike Barnett (total disaster); the other, to the championship-producing hire of Pierre Lacroix by Quebec (brilliant success).

The question for Canucks fans, of course, is which one Gillis resembles more.

My suspicion, for what it is worth, is the latter. Admittedly, this is chiefly due to my blinkered optimism that Gillis is, indeed, the brilliant hockey mind he is often credited as in the media. Moreover, I suspect that, if nothing else, he will be able to attract high quality players to Vancouver based on his credentials as an agent and his rapport with a large numer of current players.

My one concern, however, is his ability to assess young talent (i.e. drafting acumen). It is often said, rightly, in my view, that long-term, sustainable success in the NHL is built through the draft. (Consider, as the example par excellence, the Detroit Red Wings–when was the last time they were not a top-tier team?) Gillis has, due to his lack of experience, done nothing to indicate he is a shrewd judge of talent. True, any GM will rely heavily on his scouting staff for these assessments but, then, the Canucks are not exactly blessed with talent in that area, either. Order of the day for Gillis, upon starting this job, will be to put in place a scouting staff that assuages concern, on the part of people such as myself, about his ability to identify and develop young talent.

If Gillis can address this perceived unknown (or shortcoming, depending on how you judge his putative inexperience), then I think the Canucks may have made a wise decision here.

 UPDATE:

The Globe and Mail is reporting that the Canucks have called a press conference for 11 a.m. Pacific Time to announce Mike Gillis as GM.

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