Canucks GM Gillis: ‘I’m Tired Of Chasing a Moving Target’

Vancouver's general manager was on Team 1040 radio this morning to talk about his team's disappointing season and coach John Tortorella.

Photo of Mike Gillis

Photo of Mike Gillis

Mike Gillis’s interview on Team 1040 (the TSN-affiliated radio show in Vancouver) this morning was a headliner for a few reasons. With the GM’s job reportedly on either extremely thin ice or at the end of an extended plank, Gillis took to the air to address a number of issue with his team and its depressing 2014 season – no playoffs, no all-stars, and no certainty that either he or his still-new head coach, John Tortorella, will be brought back next season.

The following quotes are from Gillis’s interview with radio hosts Dave Pratt and Bro Jake. The transcript is included in the story above, from TSN.

Gillis on John Tortorella:

“John is a proven winner and competitor… If given the resources and the players are committed to it, any coach can coach the team that he has. But having said that, our problems are far reaching and will be addressed. If people don’t want to get onside with how I view this team and how it’s supposed to play then they won’t be here.”

Gillis on the Canucks’ attention-challenged identity, post-2011:

“The running of this team is my responsibility and I feel that the last few seasons we have been chasing goal posts that have been moving and got away from our core principles of how I want this team to play and how we want to perform and the tempo we want to play with.”

(*When Gillis took over as general manager in the Summer of 2008, the team consciously devoted its cap dollars to speed and skill. In 2011, after the Canucks lost to Boston in the Stanley Cup Final, the Canucks chased size, grit, and toughness. Now, the team’s identity is largely undefinable.)

“People want someone to blame but the reality is that as an organization we have deviated from things that have been successful and I know will be successful. We will get back to those levels and that style of play that we started six years ago and we have the personnel to do it.”

“We had a plan six years to do it and we got as close as we could get. We learned a lot of lessons from that and I’m tired of chasing a moving target. We are going to get back to the fundamentals and the principles that I believe in and that’s how we’re going to play. Like I said, if people don’t want to comply, and we did this six years ago, we made hard choices. Those hard choices are going to come again if we don’t see people get on the same page.”

Gillis on whether Tortorella would be coaching the Canucks again next season:

“I’m not sure I’ll be back next season… I think everybody is open for evaluation.”

Gillis on the 2014 season:

“We’ve had players who have severely underperformed. Our team has underperformed. I think that we’re all open for evaluation and deserve evaluation and that’s what’s going to come. We’ll go through a thorough evalutaion of what occurred this year. We’ll go through a thorough plan of where we see we have to go and they’ll make a decision about what route they’ll choose.”

Gillis on starting goaltender Eddie Lack, who ascended to the No. 1 role with the trades of Cory Schneider and then Roberto Luongo:

“You get people in Toronto who just love to carve the Vancouver Canucks and it’s going to be unending, so we’re used to it now, but it’s unfortunate for a young guy like Eddie Lack… Eddie is a very special player. He’s got great personality, he’s got great size and his emergence allowed us to think a little bit differently about where we were going.”

“If we had given Eddie any run support this season, he would certainly be, in my mind, a nominee for the Calder.”

“He probably wouldn’t win it, but he should be in consideration based on the way he’s played. He’s lost more one-goal games than any goalie in the league. He’s second in the league in shutouts with half the games played.”

Gillis on backup goaltender Jakob Markstrom, who was brought to Vancouver with Shawn Matthias, in the Roberto Luongo trade to Florida:

“I think Jakob Markstrom is another 24-year-old goalie who has all the attributes to be a top-flight goalie in the National Hockey League… I feel strongly that we have two young guys who are in their prime. I hope our fans get behind them and support them.”

Gillis on this season:

“We’ve had a lot of success in the past and none of this sits well with me… It’s been an incredibly frustrating season on a variety of different levels. For me, I’m committed to getting back on the levels that we expect and we have a plan do it.”