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Firing Nonis the wrong move

TSN.ca Talent Blog
4/14/2008 10:36:52 PM
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The firing of Vancouver GM Dave Nonis is wrong on so many levels.

I fully understand the disappointment in Vancouver with the Canucks missing the playoffs for the second time in three years, but it's tough to get by the following:

- Nonis has been the GM of the Canucks for only four years and one of those years was the NHL lockout. As a rule, GMs are given at least a five year run unless there is a sense the franchise is spiraling in the wrong direction and although the Canucks missed the playoffs this season, there doesn't appear to be any empirical evidence that the Canucks are on a free fall.

- Nonis was GM of the team last season when the franchise posted a record 105-point campaign and the team advanced to the second round of the playoffs.

- Nonis orchestrated one of the most lopsided trades in NHL history when he acquired netminder Roberto Luongo from the Florida Panthers.

- The Canucks missed the playoffs by three points this season despite losing a ridiculous number of man-game to injuries, especially to their core starting six on defence (Kevin Bieksa, 48 games, Lukas Krajicek, 43, Mattias Ohlund , 29, Aaron Miller, 25, Sami Salo, 19, and Willie Mitchell, 10). The surprise is they didn't miss by more than three points with that injury list.

One would have thought those factors would have allowed Nonis another year to make the bold moves he needed to make to transform the Canucks from a goaltending-dependent team with a pop-gun offence, but that is not to be.

On the flip side, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised.

Since Nonis took over from GM Brian Burke during the ownership era of John McCaw, the new Canucks' owner, Franceso Aquilini, obviously felt no sense of loyalty or attachment to a GM he did not hire.

The fact that Nonis is a low-key type individual who doesn't provide scintillating sound bites probably didn't help his cause either, but the sense throughout the league is that Nonis has put together a good organization in Vancouver and was doing a good job of drafting and developing young talent. Most thought he would get this off-season to make a bold initiative to re-vamp the persona of the team and inject some much needed offence.

But it's not to be.

Someone else will get that opportunity and while many will speculate on the possibility of Brian Burke returning to his old stamping ground in Vancouver, sources suggest Aquilini may already have his new man in place and that would most certainly rule out Burke, the subject of much conjecture for the vacant Toronto Maple Leaf GMs' job. Burke, of course, isn't going anywhere in the immediate short term.

Stay tuned, this should get interesting.

Bob McKenzie

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