Mike Gillis’s job is secure in Vancouver and, by all indications, so too is Alain Vigneault’s.
Now, then, with management and coaching questions settled for the Vancouver Canucks, let us move on to the biggest on-ice question for the Vancouver Canucks in this off-season, a summer that is as long as last year’s was short.
Goaltending: whither Roberto Luongo, ace veteran, though somewhat erratic, at 33, and Cory Schneider, 26, genius understudy with zero experience as a National Hockey League starter. Pick one.
Gillis should have ample time to casually discuss matters of import with a certain Brian Burke this week in San Francisco. After the Canucks announced Gillis’s contract extension on Monday afternoon, the hockey executive jetted south for the Global Sports Management Invitational, an event put on in conjunction with Stanford University and aimed at sports’ front-office leaders, a confab “by management, for management.”
Burke, who could use a goaltender next season, is a co-chairman of the governing body in charge of organizing the private conference and is one of the keynote speakers on Wednesday morning. Gillis is an attendee and is not listed among the speakers.
Conventional wisdom shouts that Burke and Gillis don’t get on well, which in theory precludes any deal between Vancouver and Toronto. The strands of this feud are complicated and go back years, including, in 2009, accusations of player tampering by Gillis against Toronto, which led to the league levying an undisclosed fine on then Leafs coach Ron Wilson.
Yet presumptions of ill will that would stymie a deal may be wrong, at least according to a little-noticed interview from mid-March.
“I don’t think that the blood is as bad as people would like to allege,” Canucks assistant general manager Laurence Gilman told Team 1040 radio in Vancouver on March 13.
Gilman noted that Gillis and Burke in fact spoke before the late-February trade deadline. While Gilman didn’t divulge details of that conversation, one could guess Schneider was the subject.
Goaltending will likely be a subject this week in San Francisco. Toronto is on Luongo’s reported and ballyhooed list of cities to which he would accept a trade.
“Everyone’s adults here,” said Gilman in March. “They have a professional relationship. Mike and Brian talk at various times throughout the year. They spoke close to the trade deadline. And it isn’t like they don’t have a relationship at all.”