It’s hard to argue that Dave Nonis didn’t deserve to be fired, but that the move itself makes sense. Here’s where I try.
Based on his track record as GM, Nonis had as many ups as downs, much like the hockey club he oversaw for the past three seasons. He brought back the familiar core of Markus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi, Brendan Morrison, Ed Jovanovski and Dan Cloutier for one last chance at erasing previous playoff failures, but followed through on his promise to blow the team up after it failed to make the playoffs.
He somehow persuaded the Florida Panthers to swap Roberto Luongo for Bertuzzi, and Vancouver instantly had the new face of the franchise. He hired Alain Vigneault to coach a blue-collar style, which when combined with Luongo’s brilliance, produced an unexpected club record 105 points and a trip to the second round of the playoffs.
But after saying that the team needed augmentation in the form of speed, grit and scoring in order to take the next step, Nonis was never able to add the necessary elements, and that lack of action led to both another missed trip to the postseason and his dismissal.
Though I personally believe that Nonis earned himself another year on the job, it’s not that simple. If Nonis was granted the chance to spend the $15-20 million US in salary cap room this summer, it follows that he should be given the opportunity to see that spending through. Nonis’ body of work is not convincing enough to warrant a long-term extension, so there is a distinct possibility that he would be relieved of his duties after next year and that his successor would be handcuffed by existing contracts.
So who is the next general manager of the Vancouver Canucks? Some have suggested going back to the future and hiring Pat Quinn, but there is more of a rumbling that Brian Burke is the man coveted by Francesco Aquilini and his brothers.
The biggest hurdles to such a move would be Burke’s reluctance to assume the role of his protégé and close friend, Nonis, and Burke’s well-publicized relationship with Tom Gaglardi — the man who took Aquilini to court over an alleged breach of their partnership.
Other potential names include Detroit GM Ken Holland, who lives in Vernon in the off-season, and Jim Nill, the Red Wings’ assistant GM.
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