PRESS ROUND-UP: MAY.14.08
THE VANCOUVER SUN
Canucks hire their eye on the East
The Vancouver Canucks announced Wednesday that they have added Scott Mellanby as a consultant to the hockey operations department. Elliott Pap elaborates on what this means for the Canucks in Thursday's Sun.
"Mellanby, meanwhile, will provide Gillis with input into pro player decisions. Mellanby played in the NHL for 20 years with five different teams before retiring following the 2006-07 season."
"The 41-year-old father of three will be based in St. Louis, where he currently makes his home. He is expected to work closely with assistant GM Steve Tambellini and director of player personnel Lorne Henning."
"'I wanted to have the opinion of a recently retired player with a long track record in the East,' Gillis said, explaining Mellanby's appointment."
"'Scott is coming in specifically to assist me and our pro scouts assess players who will be unrestricted and restricted free agents.'"
"Mellanby has no prior history with Gillis and was never a client of the latter during his many years as an agent."
Pap also spoke to the major players in question come July 1st with a little speculation of his own.
"It will be intriguing to see what Gillis and his people opt to do with impending UFAs Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison. The two Canuck vets, along with Mattias Ohlund, made a public appearance Wednesday to unveil a new sports facility in Burnaby."
"Naslund, predictably, was reluctant to discuss his situation. He has not talked with Gillis, who was his long-time agent."
"'It's still status quo like it was after the season, so there is no reason on speculating,' Naslund said. 'All I can say is that this city and this team have a special place in my heart. More than that, I can't elaborate because I don't know what the future holds for me. Time will tell.'"
"Naslund has made it clear he would prefer to play a Detroit Red Wing puck-possession style over the chip-and-chase game plan deployed by Vigneault on many nights, a strategy necessitated by injury and an overall lack of skill."
"Morrison, who is recovering from ACL knee surgery, also has not met with Gillis."
"'My future is up in the air and, yeah, I'm anxious to see what will happen,' said Morrison, 32. 'The big question is: Where does everybody stand right now and what's the thought process?'"
20-year veteran Mellanby on board GM Gillis' latest hire could cause ripples in Canucks organizational chart
Jim Jamieson suspects the Canucks' newest hiring as a sign to cme in changes in the structure of the Canucks organization.
"In a move that's likely to cause ripples in the Vancouver Canucks' organizational chart, new GM Mike Gillis announced the hiring of former NHL player Scott Mellanby on Wednesday."
"Given that Gillis was critical of the Canucks' scouting and player development when hired three weeks ago, and cited them as key areas for improvement, the temptation is to question the job security of current director of player personnel Lorne Henning, or some of the lower-level pro scouts."
"But Gillis, in an interview from Las Vegas, where he is attending Canucks meetings, said Mellanby has been retained to augment what Henning does, not replace him."
"'[Mellanby] spent the majority of his time in the East recently and I want to have someone who can help us to take a hard look at those players who will become free agents this summer,' said Gillis. 'There is no threat and no intended threat [to Henning]. It's simply to augment and give us a different voice from a player who's played 20 years in the league and who's recently retired.'"
"Mellanby said the fine details of his duties are still to be determined."
"'It's something that's got to be further developed as we go along,' said Mellanby. 'At this point, there are things over the summer that are coming up quickly and Mike wanted me involved. There's going to be travel and different aspects. We'll see how the role defines itself.'"
"Mellanby said he had no previous dealings with Gillis -- a long-time player agent prior to being hired by the Canucks -- before hearing from him two weeks ago."
"'Mike spoke to me about going forward in a consulting capacity," said Mellanby. "Obviously, I'm not that familiar with the [AHL], but I think Mike values my opinions from when I was in the league and I was fortunate to play 20 years in a lot of different situations, from the Philadelphia Flyers to expansion teams. I think I have a lot to offer.'"
How Chris Levesque became a Canuck
Marc Weber ponders the age-old question: What if Chris Levesque had played the last period against the Penguins in 2003?
"Chris Levesque lived every man's dream when he suited up for the Vancouver Canucks in 2003, but that brush with the bigs also made it tougher to forget his own. For all the fun and fanfare surrounding that day of real-life fantasy -- plucked from studying on the UBC campus and thrust into the NHL spotlight -- there was also an element of 'what if?'"
"Levesque wasn't just an emergency backup, after all. He was an emergency backup who came within a whisker of playing -- famously working his gum on the bench while Johan Hedberg lay motionless after a first-period collision."
"What if he went in the game? At worst, he would have looked like Martin Brochu. At best, who knows?"
"'That's the all-time question right there,' he says from a booth at Joey's on Broadway, where he has climbed the ladder to day sous chef. 'The thing I held on to for a while was, What if I did go in and finish the game? Or made a couple of big saves and people saw me?'"
"I just had to let it go, have fun with the story, focus on where I am now. Otherwise it would have been too frustrating, always coming back to 'what if?'"
Sniper eager to see how changes in staff, style play out
Ben Kuzma tries to find out the highly-anticipated answer from Captain Markus Naslund come July 1st, when his contract is up. With new management at the helm of the Canucks, Kuzma suspects that Naslund is more likely to stay now than he was two months ago.
"Nothing has changed in Markus Naslund's contract status with the Vancouver Canucks. But a change in management and the promise of change in playing style has struck a curious chord with the unrestricted free agent."
"When another disappointing season ended four points shy of a playoff berth, Naslund hinted that retirement may be an option after a 25-goal season. After all, the captain sacrificed offence for a draining defence-first team approach and the strain was etched on his face."
"In a humiliating 7-1 loss to Calgary in the season finale, the former Lester B. Pearson winner had Brad Isbister and Ryan Shannon as linemates. Not exactly the West Coast Express."
"However, with Gillis eager to go on the offensive -- and Stanley Cup front-runners Detroit and Pittsburgh playing a puck-possession game that Naslund savours -- the Swede might be a fit here. If the winger is willing to take a pay cut from the $6 million US he earned in each of the last three seasons, you can debate his return would make sense."
"At 34, Naslund could shop elsewhere and make more money because the UFA market is low on left wingers. Penguins winger Ryan Malone, 28, who had 27 goals and earned $1.375 million last season, tops a short list."
"There are interesting UFA right-wing options for the Canucks in Pavol Demitra (33, 15 goals), Brian Rolston (35, 31 goals) and Marian Hossa (29, 29 goals), but Demitra pocketed $4.5 million and Hossa $7 million last season. Only Rolston at $2.42 million is attractive financially."
"Again, it's all about how you replace Naslund's 25 goals. Will an up-tempo system be a big enough carrot to dangle?"