The rumours are true: Former NHL player agent Mike Gillis is the new GM of the Vancouver Canucks. The club will formally announce the hiring today at GM Place, just nine days after firing Dave Nonis from the position.
Gillis has no experience in managing an NHL club, but he does have a lengthy history in the game. The 49-year-old played a total of 246 games with the Colorado Rockies and Boston Bruins before suffering a career-ending ankle injury at the Bruins’ training camp in 1984.
After taking the $275,000 payout he was entitled under the NHL’s disability insurance at the time, Gillis made headlines over a decade later when he sued his former agent and hockey powerbroker Alan Eagleson for illegally collecting more than $41,000 of the claim. The suit was settled in 1997 with Gillis being awarded $570,000 (most of which went to cover his legal costs), proving he is not intimidated by any hockey heavyweights.
However, Gillis’ main credentials for the job come from his work as an agent. His negotiating skills have resulted in major deals for the likes of current Canucks’ captain Markus Naslund, Bobby Holik and Bill Guerin, as well as former Canucks Pavel Bure and Geoff Courtnall. Gillis has come close to being named an NHL general manager prior to today, finishing second to Don Waddell for the GM post with the Atlanta Thrashers in 1998.
His first order of business in Vancouver will be to determine the fate of current Canucks’ bench boss Alain Vigneault. After deciding on who will coach next year’s team, Gillis will turn his attention to this June’s NHL entry draft, in which the Canucks hold the 10th pick overall.
The Canucks former GM, Nonis, 41, spent three years on the job compiling a 130-91-25 record before he was fired. After setting franchise highs for wins with 49 and points with 105 last season, the Canucks missed the playoffs this year by three points after losing seven of their last eight games.