Mike Gillis and Alain Vigneault Reflect On the Vancouver Canucks' Season

Kevin van Steendelaar@@LeTirEtLeButAnalyst IMay 15, 2009

After being ousted in six games by the Chicago Blackhawks, Vancouver Canucks' General Manager Mike Gillis and head coach Alain Vigneault met the media Thursday afternoon to look back on the past season, as well as the team's future.

Ranging on a variety of topics such as upcoming contract signings, a contract extension for Steve Bernier, the future for Vigneault and his coaching staff and future prospects, Gillis calmly answered all questions as well as what he thought of the Canucks' performance in his first year as GM.

“It wasn’t a success because we didn’t win the Stanley Cup,” Gillis said.

"If winning is the objective, then it has not been a successful season for me. And winning is the objective for me."

"In terms of trying to make a mark in the organization and create something that I feel really strongly about, I think we’re on our way to that," he added.

Vigneault accentuated the positive on Vancouver's disappointing exit in the second round of the playoffs.

“I think right now we’re all disappointed because we feel we should still be playing, but I think in the long run this will make us better,” he said.

"I think of great players that have won Cups in the NHL, a lot of times they didn’t get it done the first time they had that first opportunity. They learned, they got better and they got it done and I think that’s what is going to happen with this group."

Gillis also commented on the series with the Blackhawks.

“I just don’t think we ever got in synch in the Chicago series,” he explained.

“I think a couple of things that could have gone our way, didn’t go our way. I think there were a couple of critical points in the games where we made a couple of mistakes and we didn’t recover as well as we would have liked to. They (the Blackhawks) are a good young team, they played well, they played hard and they stuck to their game plan."

With the season over, Gillis also revealed some previously undisclosed injuries.

Pavol Demitra will require shoulder surgery, Taylor Pyatt will have his knee scoped, Alex Burrows will have bone chips removed from his wrist and Ryan Johnson will have surgery on a finger broken earlier in the year which continued to give him problems.

Looking forward, Gillis' first priority is to get forwards Daniel and Henrik Sedin signed to contract extensions before the twin brothers become unrestricted free agents on July 1.

“I thought they were excellent players when I got here and I have an even greater opinion of them today,” he said.

“As people, they are exactly what we want to have in this organization. They conduct themselves in an exemplary manner all the time. They show up and they play. They don’t complain."

"Our objective—and our objective for some time—was to get them signed long term so that they can be the players that we build around and that hasn’t changed.”

Next up will be to negotiate with Ryan Kesler and Roberto Luongo, both entering the last year of their contracts.

“I’ll approach it internally with Roberto the way I think is best," Gillis stated and acknowledged that he has no issues with Luongo playing in Vancouver season without an extended deal.

"That will come some time over the next few weeks,” he said. “I think that if we continue to work at creating the right environment here and having a team that is competitive, I have no issues with that."

Gillis also plans to have Vigneault and his staff resigned by July 1.

Having only few weeks to prepare for last year's draft after taking the GM position, Gillis looks to be better prepared for this year's NHL Entry Draft in June.

The Canucks have six selections in the draft.

Gillis spoke highly of Cody Hodgson’s chances of sticking with the Canucks next year.

He also added that prospects Michael Grabner and Cory Schneider are the type of young prospects that a successful NHL team needs to place into their roster to compete in the salary cap era.

The season may be over for the players, but for the GM and coach, the work never stops.