Michael David Gillis (born December 1, 1958) is a Canadian former
professional ice hockey player and former president and general
manager of the Vancouver Canucks. He was born in Sudbury, Ontario.
1 Playing career
2 Post-playing career
2.2 General manager
4 Career statistics
6 External links
Gillis spent his junior hockey career with the Kingston
Ontario Major Junior Hockey League (OMJHL) from 1975 to 1978,
playing in 111 games and scoring 132 points (39 goals and 93 assists).
He added on 18 points (four goals and 14 assists) in 12 playoff games.
Gillis missed most of the 1976–77 season due to a leg injury. He was
then drafted in the first round, fifth overall, by the Colorado
Rockies in the 1978 NHL Entry Draft.
In the 1978–79 season, Gillis played two games with the Philadelphia
Firebirds of the
American Hockey League
American Hockey League (AHL), scoring no points; he
also spent 30 games with the Rockies, earning eight points (one goal
and seven assists). He split the 1979–80 season with the Rockies,
scorign four goals and five assists in 40 games, and the Fort Worth
Texans of the CHL, with 22 points (nine goals and 13 assists) in 29
games. Gillis started the 1980–81 season with Colorado, and had 18
points in 51 games before being sent to the
Boston Bruins for Bob
Miller. Gillis then scored six points in 17 games for a total of 24
points, which would be his career high. Gillis also appeared in a
playoff game, going pointless.
In 1981–82, Gillis then registered 17 points in 53 games, and earned
three points (1G-2A) in 11 playoff games. He spent the majority of the
1982–83 season with the
Baltimore Skipjacks of the AHL, getting 113
points (32 goals and 81 assists) in 74 games, good for fourth in AHL
scoring. He also played five games with Boston, earning an assist,
then played 12 playoff games for the Bruins, earning four points.
Gillis split the 1983–84 season with the Bruins, scoring 17 points
in 50 games, and with the
Hershey Bears of the AHL, getting 29 points
in 26 games. He played three playoff games with Boston, getting no
Gillis retired from professional hockey in the summer of 1984.
Upon retiring from playing hockey,
Mike Gillis coached the Queen's
University Golden Gaels hockey team in 1985–86. He then earned a law
Queen's University in 1990 and became a player agent. His
clientele over the years included Pavel Bure, Markus Näslund, Bobby
Holík and Mike Richter, among others.
With the firing of
Vancouver Canucks General Manager
Dave Nonis at the
end of the 2007–08 season, Gillis was introduced by the organization
as Nonis' successor on April 23, 2008. Entering into the free agent
market as a general manager for the first time in July 2008, Gillis
made immediate changes. He chose not to re-sign former client and
longtime Canucks captain Markus Näslund, nor forward Brendan
Morrison. He then made an aggressive pitch for unrestricted free agent
Mats Sundin with a two-year, $20 million offer; the deal would
have made him the highest paid player in the NHL. Sundin decided
against signing with any team until midway through the subsequent
season, but eventually accepted a one-year, pro-rated $8.6 million
offer on December 18, 2008. Several months later, before the
2008–09 NHL trade deadline, Gillis re-signed emerging forward
Alexandre Burrows to a four-year, $8 million contract on March 3,
2009, substantially raising his previous $525,000 annual salary.
Burrows was, at the time, in the midst of a career-season in which he
scored 28 goals and 51 points, only to follow up with a career season
the next year by scoring 35 goals and 67 points.
After winning a Northwest Division title and making it as far as Game
6 of the second round in the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs, Gillis
continued to re-sign key players. With the Canucks' leading scorers
Henrik Sedin set to become unrestricted free agents on July
1, 2009, Gillis flew to
Sweden to negotiate with the twins, ultimately
signing them to identical five-year, $30.5 million deals hours before
the free agency period was set to begin. Soon thereafter,
negotiations began with star goaltender Roberto Luongo, who was
entering the final year of his original four-year deal with the
Canucks. Several days after Luongo gave the Canucks a September 13
deadline to come to an agreement before ceasing negotiations for the
upcoming season, Gillis signed him to a 12-year, $64 million contract
extension on September 2. Other significant signings in the 2009
off-season included unrestricted free agent
Mikael Samuelsson from the
Detroit Red Wings
Detroit Red Wings and Canucks prospect
Sergei Shirokov from the
Kontinental Hockey League
Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).
Gillis' first noteworthy trade occurred on August 28, 2009, when he
sent prospect forwards Patrick White and
Daniel Rahimi to the San Jose
Sharks in exchange for defencemen
Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich.
Of the two defencemen acquired, the younger Ehrhoff proved to be the
centrepiece of the deal. San Jose's primary motivation to send him
away was to clear salary cap space in anticipation of their
acquisition of star forward
Dany Heatley from the Ottawa Senators. For
the Canucks, Ehrhoff's acquisition addressed the need for a
puck-moving defenceman to move play out of the defensive zone.
Ehrhoff went on to lead the Canucks defencemen in scoring that season.
In the midst of Gillis' off-season transactions, the Canucks were
involved in a pair of tampering incidents with Toronto Maple Leafs
management. The first incident occurred in late June 2009, when Maple
Leafs Head Coach Ron Wilson publicized the club's intentions to pursue
the Sedin twins if Gillis could not re-sign them before the free
agency period began. Several months later, in September, a Leafs
TV documentary program covering June's 2009
NHL Entry Draft
NHL Entry Draft featured
Toronto General Manager Brian Burke indicating that Gillis had pursued
the Tampa Bay Lightning's second overall pick for a package consisting
of defenceman Kevin Bieksa, forward
Alexandre Burrows and their
first-round selection. Although the segment was eventually pulled
off-air, Gillis filed tampering charges against the Maple Leafs near
the beginning of the 2009–10 season for both incidents. The NHL
fined Wilson US$10,000 for his part in tampering with the Sedins,
while Burke and the Leafs management were given a warning for the
That season, the Canucks went on to win the Northwest Division title,
but lost in the second round to the
Chicago Blackhawks in the 2010
playoffs, both for the second consecutive year under Gillis.
In the off-season, Gillis made significant defensive acquisitions,
Keith Ballard from the
Florida Panthers (in exchange for a
first-round draft pick
Michael Grabner and Steve Bernier) and signing
Dan Hamhuis ($27 million over six years). Gillis also signed
third-line centre Manny Malhotra. While Hamhuis and Malhotra became
integral parts of the Canucks' successful season in 2010–11, Ballard
struggled to remain in the lineup with injuries and numerous bouts of
healthy scratches. Meanwhile, Grabner became a Calder Memorial Trophy
nominee that season as the NHL's top rookie. In goal, Gillis had
Cory Schneider in the off-season, as well. Backing
Roberto Luongo as a rookie, the duo won the William M. Jennings
Trophy as the goaltending tandem with the least goals against in the
League. Gillis' transactions were instrumental in the Canucks' first
Presidents' Trophy, leading the NHL with the best regular season
record in 2010–11, and he was personally awarded with the League's
inaugural NHL General Manager of the Year Award. The Canucks advanced
all the way to the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, where they fell to the
Boston Bruins in seven games after taking a 3–2 series lead. It has
been noted, however, that the players arguably most instrumental in
their Finals appearance — the Sedin twins, Ryan Kesler, Alexandre
Burrows, Alexander Edler,
Roberto Luongo and
Cory Schneider — were
already in the Canucks' organization when Gillis took over as general
manager from his predecessor, Dave Nonis.
In the 2011–12 season, the Canucks defended their Presidents' Trophy
title, but lost to the eighth-seeded (and eventual Cup champions) Los
Angeles Kings in five games during the opening round of the playoffs.
That season saw
Cory Schneider usurp
Roberto Luongo as the team's
starting goaltender. Luongo started the first two games due to
Schneider's injury and played well but his team lost both. Head Coach
Alain Vigneault opted to start Schneider for the rest of the series in
order to give the Canucks some momentum, and Luongo remained on
the bench for the remainder of the series as the Kings won four games
to one. Dressing as a backup for the Canucks' final three playoff
games led many in the media to believe that Luongo would be traded in
the off-season, in favour of Schneider, who recorded stronger regular
season and playoff statistics than him in 2011–12. Asked about
his role with the Canucks following the defeat, Luongo told reporters
that he would waive his no-trade clause if management asked him
to. In June 2012, Schneider was signed to a three-year, $12
million contract, which made Luongo expendable, but Gillis' efforts to
trade Luongo were unsuccessful due to his hefty US$64 million, 12-year
contract, a contract that Gillis has since been criticized for
In the 2012–13 season, which was shortened by a lockout, the Canucks
finished with a record of 26–15–7 and won the Northwest Division
title. However, they were eliminated in four-straight games by the San
Jose Sharks during the opening round of the playoffs, the second
consecutive first round playoff exit. Gillis was criticized by the
Globe and Mail's Allan Maki as he "dithered with goalie Roberto Luongo
and should have traded him for help at forward but didn’t. Instead,
Gillis acquired Derek Roy at the Trade Deadline and thought that was
enough. Gillis’s decision to get Zack Kassian doesn’t look good,
either, but the GM will survive." Maki said that the "team, with its
aging core and limited prospects, is in need of new direction, new
leadership. It’s that time," just two years after its Stanley Cup
Finals appearance. Afterwards, Gillis fired Head Coach Alain
Vigneault, Associate Coach
Rick Bowness and Assistant Coach Newell
Brown. Gillis also continued to try to trade Luongo, who still had
nine years left on his 12-year contract, which represented a $5.33
million annual salary cap hit.
John Tortorella was hired to replace Vigneault as head coach, a
decision that Gillis later suggested had been at the insistence of
Canucks Owner Francesco Aquilini. At the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Gillis
Cory Schneider to the
New Jersey Devils
New Jersey Devils for the
ninth overall draft pick, which he subsequently used to draft Bo
Horvat from the London Knights. Gillis took a lot of criticism from
fans and season-ticket holders, as the Canucks did poorly and slid out
of playoff contention during the latter half of the 2013–14 season.
Gillis was questioned on his personnel moves, such as trading Roberto
Luongo to the Florida Panthers, which, combined with the earlier
Schneider trade, had left the team without a proven number one
goaltender, instead relying on the largely untested Eddie Läck.
On April 8, 2014, Gillis was relieved of his duties as president and
GM of the
Vancouver Canucks by Owner Francesco Aquilini; Aquilini had
been said to be very hands on in day-to-day managing of the
club. This came right after the Canucks were eliminated from
the 2014 playoffs, and as season ticket renewal levels had dropped
off. Gillis was succeeded by former Canucks captain Trevor Linden, who
was hired the next day as president of hockey operations. It had been
reported that Gillis and Linden had such a poor relationship that
Linden stayed away from the Canucks after retiring as a
Mike is the brother of Paul Gillis. He is the uncle of professional
hockey players, Matt and Adam Pelech.
Fort Worth Texans
^ "Canucks choose Gillis as general manager". CBC Sports. 2008-04-24.
^ "Sundin needs more time to decide future". NHL. 2008-07-02.
Retrieved 2008-07-05. [dead link]
^ "Sundin giving Canucks $1.4m discount". Vancouver Sun. 2008-12-19.
Archived from the original on 2008-12-20. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
^ "Canucks lock up Burrows ahead of deadline". Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation. 2009-03-03. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
^ "Canucks commit $61M to Sedins". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
2009-07-01. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
^ "Roberto Luongo,
Vancouver Canucks agree to 12-year, $64 million
contract extension". ESPN. 2009-09-02. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
^ "Canucks sign Red Wings' Samuelsson". Vancouver Sun. 2009-07-03.
Retrieved 2009-09-16. [permanent dead link]
^ "Canucks sign winger Shirokov". Globe and Mail. 2009-08-18.
^ "Ehrhoff earning rave reviews on canucks defense". National Hockey
League. 2010-01-15. Retrieved 2010-01-15.
^ a b c "No love lost between GMs Burke and Gillis". Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation. 2009-10-24. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
^ "Report: Canucks to file tampering charges against Maple Leafs". The
Sports Network. 2009-10-06. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
^ a b 
^ "NHL Playoffs: Vancouver Canucks' decision to sit Roberto Luongo
'incredibly difficult'". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
^ Botchford, Jason (2012-04-19). "
Cory Schneider Canucks' top dog, so
long Luongo". The Province. Vancouver. Retrieved
2012-04-24. [permanent dead link]
^ "Luongo: I'll waive my no-trade clause if I'm asked to". The Sports
Network. 2012-04-24. Retrieved 2012-04-24.
^ a b "
Roberto Luongo says goodbye (again) to Vancouver". CBC.ca.
^ "Roberto Luongo's contract hurts both him and Canucks". National
Post. Archived from the original on 2013-06-29. Retrieved
Mike Gillis fired as General Manager, President of Canucks". CBS
Sports. Retrieved 2014-04-08.
Biographical information and career statistics from
Hockey-Reference.com, or Legends of Hockey, or The Internet
Colorado Rockies first round draft pick
General Manager of the Vancouver Canucks