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What You Want To Know

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks
You asked. He answered.

We opened the floor two weeks back and solicited fan questions for Canucks General Manager Dave Nonis.Here are the top 10 questions and the answers he gave.

I am 16 years old and I aspire to become an NHL GM when I am older, can you tell me the steps you took to get where you are? - Chris in Calgary

A couple of things have to fall into place. First of all, education is the most important. The opportunities definitely expand with a solid education. After that, I would say that getting into any part of the sport you can. I started with Vancouver in 1990 doing everything from planning road trips to computer programming.

So it’s not really just planning to be the GM its getting experience in a wide range of areas in the business. Then you have to couple that with a little bit of luck. Listen

What is the best part about being a GM? - Kevin in Vernon

Winning. The games you win are the ones you feel good about. The ones you don’t, well that’s usually a tough night, but when you go on a bit of winning streak, and the teams playing well and the city’s excited, and the building is full, that’s the most enjoyable part. Listen

How do you deal with the pressure of the business? - Tony in Cloverdale

When things aren’t going well and you’re looking for ways to try to solve problems that sometimes maybe aren’t solveable, you have to just weather the storm, that’s a difficult period to go through, but you forget about those if you have a little success at the opther end. Listen

What has been your greatest experience since joining the Canucks? - Nathan in Tsawwassen

There are a couple: Early on, it would have been our team becoming competitive. That was in the late 90’s and that was a good feeling. But I think probably last year is probably the most enjoyment I’ve had. I would have to say that game 7 against Detroit [Dallas] was the high for me.

The opportunity to win game seven at home and see and feel a little but of success and what it did for the people in the building and the players. That was a special time. Listen

How does mentality change with the way you approach the upcoming season from a year ago? - Tanya in Clearwater

A year ago we had a lot of changes, I’m not sure of the exact number, but I think we ended up having 13 or 14 different bodies here. We felt we had to change in order to be competitive. This year we don’t have that same feeling. We think we have a competitive team, and we’re always looking for upgrades and incremental improvements, but were not going into the season with a whole new group.

We’re also not going into the season with a whole lot of question marks. We did have a lot of changes last year and even though you think they’re all going to fit and work, you don’t for sure till they’re out there and playing. I think this year we have a better handle on what we have. Listen

What’s the most difficult part of being a GM in this city? - Don in Mission

I think it’s not reacting to sometimes the pressure you might feel whether it’s from the fans, the media or your own family. There’s a lot of pressure to do things when things aren’t going well – and even when they are going well – sometimes there’s pressure to make moves that might look good in the short term, but don’t help us long-term. I think staying focused on long-term success is important, for us in particular. Listen

What qualities do you look for most from a player? - Canuck Fan

A couple of things: a player has to have talent in order to play, but character is as important, or more important than it’s ever been. We want to bring players in here that have the ability to become good professionals, not just because of their talent, but because of their work ethic and their drive, and their overall character.

Teams that have success have more players than other teams in that regard. A lot of it is about desire and wanting to be successful. We’ve really focused on trying to bring good people into the team here. Listen

Are there areas you look at more than others? - Canuck fan

I can’t speak for other teams. I think that there are teams that do feel a little bit differently, and feel that talent is the most important thing and that you can always conform players that don’t fit in or don’t have those other attributes. But yeah, I think most teams rely on that and most teams I think look at people they want to bring in. Listen

Can you sum up your philosophy on building a championship team. - Terri in Sweden

The new league is different that’s for sure, but I think a lot of the principles are the same. You have to build from the net out. Teams that have won championships in recent history have all been built that way: strong goaltending, strong defensive corps. In the new NHL you need to have young players that are contributing in order to make the cap work.

So you need to have a strong reserve list and a strong farm system. You need to have young players coming up that can play at a reasonable level so you can afford to keep your high-end players. Listen

Do you have any pets? - Miguel in Vancouver

Yes, two dogs and three horses. Dogs are Jesse and Pauly. One is a white sheppard and one’s a Tibetan Spaniel. Listen

How much has Brian Burke's tutelage influenced you? - Nathan in Mission

A couple of things: I’ve worked with B for most of my career so there are lots of things I’ve learned from him, good and bad. For me, probably the biggest influence or attribute that I’ve pulled from him would be two-fold. One is that I think work ethic is tremendously important in this business. If you’re not prepared to work, then you’re not going to have any success.

More importantly, Brian is always excellent at hiring people and letting them do their job. He always gave me a great deal of ability to do what I needed to do, and the authority to do what I needed to do, and I think your staff grows that way and you get better people and better results.

From a manager’s standpoint, I think that was something very important for me to learn: You can’t manage everything. If you think you’ve hired the right people, let them, do their work. Listen
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