By Derek Jory
Despite heading out of town, Mike Gillis won’t be leaving town anytime soon.
The Vancouver Canucks president and general manager signed a contract extension with Canucks Sports & Entertainment Monday before jetsetting off to San Francisco to attend a sports management conference.
The details of the contract were not disclosed, but Gillis revealed he is pleased his lengthy meeting with the Aquilini’s progressed to the point they were able to agree on terms of a new contract.
The Canucks were knocked out of the post-season in the first round just over two weeks ago, so there is much work to be done this summer. Now that Gillis’ future is in stone, he’s eager to get started.
“We have an awfully busy summer ahead of us, we’ve had busy summers in the past, as you know, with us constantly trying to get better and constantly trying to look at every opportunity available, it is busy," said Gillis. "We have a number of situations that we need to resolve, I’m eager to get started on them and I will get started on them as quickly as possible."
The 53-year-old NHL forward turned NHL agent turned NHL GM recently completed his fourth season with the Canucks. Since becoming the 10th general manager in team history, Gillis has led Vancouver to four consecutive Northwest Division titles, back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies and he was named General Manager of the Year in 2011 for the memorable run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final put together by the Canucks.
Despite all the success, Gillis did question whether he wanted to return.
“There had been moments where I’d reflected back and wondered if the amount of energy and the amount of opportunity to be evaluated by everybody is the right thing for me, but I felt that it was and I felt that we have unfinished business for sure here.
“This team was on the right track, the organization is in really good shape and I feel like we’re ready to get going.”
Now that Gillis' future is clear, it’s time to get busy. First thing on his agenda is the future of Alain Vigneault, which he plans to address as soon as possible.
More than half of the 15-minute conference call Gillis held prior to boarding a flight to San Francisco was spent addressing Vigneault and the fact Vancouver’s coach hasn’t spoken publicly since the Canucks were knocked out of the playoffs.
The decision of whether or not to bring Vigneault back is Gillis’, he’s not going to rush things and wants to work towards creating an agreement with the coach. The two spoke Monday and Gillis said Vigneault would like to be back behind the bench with the Canucks.
“He’s made every indication that he does want to come back and coach this team,” said Gillis. “We both feel that it’s a very good hockey team and that we have a unique situation that we face, with a good hockey team, in how to get over that last little hurdle and we’re going to continue to work together to get there.
“I feel very comfortable with Alain as our coach, I told everybody that in my season-ending press conference. I think he’s done an excellent job and I don’t know why you wouldn’t want somebody back who’s done an excellent job and has the results to show for it.”