The Vancouver Canucks agreed to a contract extension with general manager Mike Gillis on Monday.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
”There’ve been moments where I reflected and wondered if the amount of energy and the amount of opportunity to be evaluated by everybody was the right thing for me, but I felt that it was,” Gillis said. ”I felt that we had unfinished business for sure here, and this team was on the right track.”
Gillis was entering the final year of a five-year deal that he signed when he took over the team in 2008.
”This is a significant announcement for our hockey club,” chairman Francesco Aquilini, whose family owns the team, said in a release.
”These past four years have been the most successful in Canucks history. Mike and his management team have done an excellent job to position us for long term success on and off of the ice.
”We believe Mike’s presence in this organization is important to the long-term success of this hockey club and we are confident that we will continue to compete at the highest level under his leadership.”
The announcement, which came after Gillis met with Aquilini earlier in the day, ended speculation about the GM’s future, which had percolated for two weeks after Vancouver’s elimination by the surging Los Angeles Kings in five games.
”It just took a little while, which was not uncommon, to have everybody get together, and it was my preference to wait a little bit longer in order to make sure that everyone was level-headed and not emotional about what had happened when we had such high expectations,” Gillis said.
Now that he has secured a new deal, Gillis will address coach Alain Vigneault’s status soon. The GM said it is his decision whether Vigneault remains behind the Canucks bench, and he wants the coach to continue with the club.
”He’s done an excellent job, and he’ll obviously be the first thing on the agenda once I have an opportunity to execute on the plan we have,” Gillis said.
Vigneault has guided the Canucks to back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies. He has served for six seasons with the club after being hired by former GM Dave Nonis prior to the Aquilinis’ purchase from former Seattle-based owner John McCaw in 2008.
Several Canucks players, including Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler, have expressed their desire for Vigneault to stay on. Gillis said Vigneault has given ”every indication” that he wants to remain with the club.
Vigneault, a former NHL coach of the year whose future has come under speculation, is entering the final year of his deal.
In addition to Vigneault’s status, Gillis needs to resolve the club’s goaltending situation after Cory Schneider displaced Roberto Luongo during the playoffs. Schneider, who started three of the five games against the Kings, is due to become a restricted free agent July 1.
Luongo said after the Canucks were eliminated that he would accept a trade if the club asks him to waive the no-movement clause in his $64 million contract that has 10 years remaining.
Gillis must also decide whether he wants to re-sign pending restricted free agent winger Mason Raymond and 37-year-old defenseman Sami Salo, who is due to become an unrestricted free agent. Several other players are facing free agency or entering the final year of their deals.
”We have a number of situations that we need to resolve,” Gillis said. ”I’m eager to get started on them, and I will get started on them as quickly as possible.”