Last week, like the family black sheep reappearing after years of exile, Mike Gillis came out of hiding and took to the airwaves on TSN1040. While Gillis has been away from hockey for over 4 years, he has been hiding in plain sight. He still lives in British Columbia, teaching Law in Victoria. He may have been gone but he never really left.
In his interview on TSN1040 with Blake Price and Matt Sekeres, he was insightful, forthcoming, and surprisingly regretful. He sounded like a man who doesn’t take his time as a General Manager in a major hockey market lightly. Most importantly, he sounded like a man ready to take his experiences and the hard lessons learned and apply them in a new role with a fresh start.
The time is now for Gillis to get back in the game. The type of hockey he loves is a game built on speed and skill that shuns naked aggression and thuggery. This is the brand of hockey that has proven to be the most effective since his time away. Teams like Pittsburgh and Washington have won cups, while teams like Boston, Anaheim, and Philadelphia were left outside of the contenders’ circle.
The most jarring thing to me during this interview was Gillis’ ability to admit his shortcomings during his time as an NHL GM. The first step to overcoming one’s weaknesses is to acknowledge them. Gillis discussed his failure to re-vamp the Canucks scouting department and seemed determined to avoid going down the same path if he ever received another chance to be the chief of a big-league club.
Don’t forget, at present, there are GM seats available. The most intriguing is the vacant chair in the Emerald City. For Gillis, Seattle would likely be the most appealing opportunity. He has established himself as a full-time West Coaster with no desire to relocate. Also, for a General Manager these days, an expansion franchise is the dream. A new team usually means a longer leash and more patient ownership. There would also be no prior mistakes from a predecessor to either tolerate or attempt to correct. It’s an opportunity to permanently tattoo your fingerprints on a team.
While many hockey fans still loathe Gillis, others might admit that his absence has made the heart grow fonder. Gillis is a forward-thinking man that believed firmly in exploring every opportunity to forge a competitive advantage over his opponents. For a new expansion team owner looking to hit the ground running, Gillis would be the type of manager to have at the helm. His face at the front of the Seattle franchise would also be an excellent way to inject some instant juice into what everyone is hoping will be an intense rivalry between Vancouver and Seattle. The time is now, the conditions are perfect, and everyone loves a comeback. Keep your heads up, Vancouver hockey fans! Magic Mike Gillis will soon be back on the main stage!