When Dave Nonis was called to a 3 p.m. meeting with Francesco Aquilini on Monday, April 14, 2008 to defend his position as general manager of the Vancouver Canucks, he was fired three hours later.
In a prepared statement, Aquilini said: “I think this important change in leadership is critical to the future of the team and the direction we need to take. It is not acceptable to our fans or to us as owners that our team isn’t in the playoffs.”
Mike Gillis will be much better prepared than Nonis when the next one-on-one owner/general manager showdown takes place, perhaps as early as Monday. In fact, Gillis noted at Thursday’s media inquisition that the Aquilini family — Luigi and sons Francesco, Roberto and Paolo — will be given a full-blown presentation that will map out where Gillis thinks the future is going with the Canucks and how he plans to change back-to-back, first-round playoff exits.
Nonis never thought to be so technical because he felt an old-fashioned face-to-face conversation would resolve things. Little did he know that Francesco’s decision had been pre-determined with Gillis already waiting in the wings.
Call Nonis naive. Call Gillis conditioned.
HERE ‘N’ THERE: Playoff tickets going at half price were one thing. But the supreme insult were the thousands of decorated Canucks’ cookies and cupcakes that were marked down and eventually given away free at bakeries and delis throughout the city Wednesday. And the towels … what about the playoff rallying towels that arrived from China by the boatload? Like the cupcakes and cookies, they’ll have to be given away, too. As Gillis said to the media Thursday: “You guys just don’t know what our costs are!”
SHORT HOPS: The theme of the annual Canucks Alumni golf tournament May 21 at Morgan Creek is a salute to the “great goalies” in franchise history. The veteran of the group will be Charlie Hodge joined by Cesare Maniago, Ken (Spider) Lockett, Gary (Bones) Bromley, ‘Captain Kirk’ McLean, ‘King Richard’ Brodeur, Glen (Carrot) Hanlon and John (Cheech) Garrett if he can free himself from playoff television commitments. Just from the nicknames alone, you can guess how much fun these characters have at a golf event.
END ZONE: As a kid growing up in Maple Ridge, Larry Walker dreamed of one day playing goal for the Canucks, but after being cut as a junior prospect from Kelowna and Regina, he opted for baseball. Wise move. The five-time Major League Baseball all-star, seven-time winner of the Gold Glove Award and three-time National League batting champion will be at Nat Bailey Stadium on Aug. 13 as part of the Canadians’ Superstar Series. Walker was named to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007 and the BC Sports Hall of Fame in 2009. There’s a big push now to have him inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., where he belongs.
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