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Jumping Up in the Play

by Jeff Paterson / Vancouver Canucks
 Scott Mellanby wasn’t actively pursuing jobs in hockey management, but he’s delighted to have one with the Vancouver Canucks. Mellanby was at home in St. Louis contemplating what to do with the rest of his life after 20 good seasons in the National Hockey League when his phone rang. It was Mike Gillis, the new general manager of the Vancouver Canucks, trying to gauge Mellanby’s interest in helping him run his hockey club.

“I was familiar with Mike and I’ve had a few teammates who’ve had Mike (as an agent), but I didn’t really know Mike at all. I really had no relationship with him. He called me a couple of weeks ago, we talked a number of times and I’m just excited to have the opportunity to work with him,” Mellanby told the Vancouver media on a conference call Wednesday morning after being hired as a consultant to the General Manager and the Hockey Operations department. “It kind of came out of the blue, it’s a great opportunity for me and it fits really where I’m at in my life with my children.”

Jeff Paterson is a Team 1040 broadcaster and a regular contributor to the Georgia Straight.

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Mellanby, a former second round draft choice of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1984, earned a reputation as a hard-nosed, but honest hockey player in his two decades in the league with Philadelphia, Edmonton, Florida, St. Louis and most-recently Atlanta before calling it a career just over a year ago. During his career, the soon to be 42-year-old played 1431 regular season games scoring 364 goals and recording 840 points. Nine times he was a 20-goal scorer and twice reached the 30-goal mark in a season including his best year, 1995-96, when Mellanby scored 32 times and racked up 70 points leading the upstart Florida Panthers to the Stanley Cup Final.

With that much time in the game, Mellanby brings with him all kinds of experience and he’s looking forward to putting it to good use in the Canucks’ front office.

“I think Mike values my opinions from my time in the league. I was fortunate to get to play 20 years through a lot of different situations from teams like the Philadelphia Flyers that have been around a while to expansion teams (Florida and Atlanta) and I have played with a lot of players and I think I have a lot of things to offer,” the father of three says.

“I’m not going to get into talking about the Canucks and what they need and what they don’t need. I’m quite familiar with them. I’ve watched a lot of hockey this year. Being my first year out, I thought that I wouldn’t watch a lot of hockey, but I think I’ve watched more hockey than I ever have.”

”Certainly playing in the eastern conference the last couple of years of my career and with the new schedule, some of the younger players, in particular in the west, I’m not as familiar with but at the same time with the Canucks, doing some Hockey Night in Canada earlier in the year I was basically following the Canadian teams the first few months to try to be up to speed, so I’m pretty familiar with the team. I’m not overly familiar with the team in Manitoba, but I’ve tried to watch a couple of games in the last day or so on CD.”

Mellanby, who will remain based in the U.S. Midwest for his new job, did not have Mike Gillis as his agent during his playing days, but was a teammate of Gillis clients in his last two NHL stops (Bobby Holik in Atlanta and Pavol Demitra in St. Louis) so the new consultant certainly had a chance to do his homework on his new boss. And he can’t wait to roll up his sleeves and share his thoughts on the organization with Gillis and the rest of the hockey operations department at the club’s annual pre-draft scouting meetings which are set to begin in Las Vegas.

“I see it as a great opportunity and I’m very excited about it and was very flattered that Mike sought me the way that he did and respected my opinions. I’m just looking forward to getting started,” Mellanby says.

“It’s an opportunity to get involved at a level where I get to learn quickly and be involved in the organizational meetings and I think I have a lot to offer. I certainly have a lot to learn. At this point in my life, it’s a good situation for me. I think coaching is certainly, down the road, something that I’m interested in, but at the same time with my family and stuff like that this gives me an opportunity to get back in the game. I’ve watched a lot of hockey and I’m passionate about it and I want to get back involved.”

In his role as a consultant for the Canucks, Mellanby joins a long and growing list of recently-retired NHL’ers jumping into management positions – Steve Yzerman in Detroit, Brett Hull in Dallas, Luc Robitaille in Los Angeles and Mike Ricci in San Jose just to name a few. Their years of terrific service on the ice combined with an ability to relate to guys still playing the game allow people like Mellanby to fill a critical role in a hockey organization and shed perspective that may have been missing before today.

“Being fresh off the ice and just finishing, I think I’m pretty in tune with the players and know a lot of the guys and can help formulate some opinions,” he says.

As a player, Scott Mellanby was the type of competitor every NHL team would have loved to have on its roster. Mike Gillis and the Canucks are hoping he makes the same kind of impact on their hockey club in his new role as a consultant.
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