Feisty O’Brien apologizes to Canucks
'Mike Gillis never told me I had to fight,’ scratched blueliner says of GM
VANCOUVER — A contrite Shane O’Brien apologized Tuesday to Vancouver Canuck general manager Mike Gillis, his teammates and the entire organization for comments he said were made in frustration over being scratched from the lineup.
The 25-year-old defenceman on Monday said he had been told in a one-on-one meeting with Gillis last week that he had to fight more. But Tuesday, O’Brien said that simply was not the case.
“Mike Gillis never told me I had to fight,” O’Brien said after the team’s game-day skate at General Motors Place. “He was just talking to me about playing physical. Maybe I took it the wrong way. As a frustrated player, you want to be in the lineup. No one likes losing and it’s just a tough situation. I didn’t help it by doing what I did and apologize to Mike Gillis and the Vancouver organization and fans. It was just a lot of frustration.”
O’Brien was scratched for the first time this season for Saturday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild and wasn’t in the lineup Tuesday night when the Canucks met the Carolina Hurricanes.
“Mike is a good man, I was never trying to point the finger at him,” O’Brien said. “He’s got a job to do, AV [coach Alain Vigneault] has a job to do, there are lots of quality, good people in this organization. I am just frustrated at not being in the lineup and my career is not where I want it to be and my team is not where I want it to be. I made it about me and I apologize to my teammates. I was selfish, but like I said, I was frustrated.”
Gillis said he met with O’Brien Tuesday morning to clarify last week’s meeting. Gillis said although he was disappointed that O’Brien discussed what was intended to be a private meeting with the media, he accepts partial responsibility because it is obvious O’Brien left that meeting confused.
“It’s partly my responsibility that he didn’t leave that meeting with complete clarity because that was the purpose of it,” Gillis said. “We were absolutely clear when he asked us if what we wanted him to do was fight, we said no. What we want him to do is get committed to conditioning, get committed to moving his feet and we want him to be a better player that we can trust. He took that somehow to mean we wanted him to fight and it’s absolutely baffling to us.”
O’Brien has been replaced in the Canucks’ defensive rotation by Rob Davison. Vigneault said Davison is simply playing better than O’Brien right now.
“Right now, he [Davison] is a better option because he is safer on the ice and he’s playing better,” Vigneault said. “The games that Davie has played, with the number of minutes that he has played, he hasn’t put the team in position where it might be hurt with decisions on the ice or penalties and right now he’s the guy we’re going with. When Shane comes back and he plays up to his capability, there is no doubt in my mind … he can help us.”
APPEAL REJECTED: Canuck owner Francesco Aquilini is getting better results in court than his team has been managing on the ice of late.
The B.C. Court of Appeal on Tuesday rejected an appeal from Aquilini’s business rivals, Tom Gaglardi and Ryan Beedie, over his 2004 purchase of the Canucks. Beedie and Gaglardi had argued that Aquilini went behind their backs and broke a partnership agreement when he bought the team from John McCaw.
The appeal followed a January 2008 lower court decision which confirmed the Aquilini family’s ownership of the Canucks.
“We’re obviously pleased by today’s decision to dismiss the appeal,” Aquilini said in a statement Tuesday. “I’m hoping that this decision means we can all put this issue behind us and get back to work. From our family’s perspective, we’ve always believed that our agreement with John McCaw to purchase the team was a good deal, one that returned local ownership to Vancouver.”
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