Mike Gillis introduced as Canucks GM

Former NHL player agent Mike Gillis was hired Wednesday as the new general manager of the Vancouver Canucks.

Mike Gillis was introduced Wednesday as the new general manager of the Vancouver Canucks.

Gillis, a former player agent, signed a five-year contract with the Canucks.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

"I'm hoping to bring a different perspective," Gillis said. "I'm hoping to bring different ideas to the draft table and to player development.

"I'm hoping to be able to attract players here because, in dealing with them for the last 17 years, I understand the message they want to hear and what is important to them."

"He possesses tremendous skill sets which I think we are looking for [such as] assessing player's abilities, assessing their talents, knowing the players and understanding the game,"  Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini said. "We view Mike as the right guy for the job."

Gillis, 49, succeeds David Nonis as the 10th GM in franchise history.

Nonis replaced the bombastic Brian Burke as GM on May 6, 2004, and compiled a 130-91-25 record before being fired April 14.

The Canucks posted a 39-33-10 record this season, but they lost seven of their eight games and missed the playoffs after setting franchise highs with 49 wins and 105 points last season. 

"I don't think this team is close [to contending] at this particular point," Gillis said. "I think there is a good foundation here.

"I think this team needs to get faster.  It needs more grit, it needs to be more competitive.

"We have a solid defence and solid goaltending. But there are a number of areas that need to be addressed.

"If they get addressed well, this team won't be far. A couple of very good decisions, or a couple of really bold decisions, might put this team in a position to win immediately."

'A clean slate'

Gillis told reporters Wednesday that he won't be making snap decisions on personnel.

"I have not made any predisposed decisions based on any thing I have heard," he said. "This is a clean slate moving forward.

"People will be evaluated on performance. They will be evaluated on whether they are prepared to move forward.

"There may be some people who do not want to be here because I'm here. I don't know that yet.

"But we will find out. There are a lot of loyal people that have been here for a long time and they need to be treated fairly."

Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault received an endorsement of sorts from Gillis, who said: "Coaches handle the assets they have been given. The assets, here, were lean at times."

Gillis confirmed that assistant GM Steve Tambellini will remain with the Canucks and that a person will be hired to handle salary cap and contractual issues.

It is estimated Vancouver will have $20 million in salary cap space next season.

"I don't plan on targeting ex-clients," Gillis said. "I plan on targeting the best players available."

Gillis's agency, which will be dissolved, represents about 30 hockey players, including Canucks captain Markus Naslund, who is eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 1.

"If we cannot provide an environment here that makes perfect sense for him to be here, then won't be here," Gillis said, mindful that Naslund made $6 million US this season.

"One of the most important things is whether he wants to be here. I know he hasn't completely answered that question in his own mind."

Gillis, from Sudbury, Ont., played forward in the NHL from 1978-84, posting 33 goals and 76 points in 246 games with the Colorado Rockies and Boston Bruins.

With files from the Canadian Press