Costa's Canuck Report: Mike Gillis vs. John Davidson

Gary CostaContributor IJuly 9, 2008

It's been just over a week since the NHL's free agent pool opened up for the summer and there has definitely been a lot of general managers trying to make waves.

Canucks' GM Mike Gillis is no exception. The Canucks' new boss has been trying to forge a position against the NHL's other 29 GMs after an unfruitful Draft day that saw Gillis make some offers to several clubs, but come away with nothing.

On July 1, Gillis made one of the biggest offers in recent history to unrestricted Leafs captain Mats Sundin for $20 million over two years—an offer that raised eyebrows around the league and showed everyone that Gillis is for real.

As a lifelong Canucks fan living in Southern Ontario, I've spent the past 13 years making fun of Sundin, so the unfortunate chance of having to cheer for him is somewhat terrifying! It hearkens back to Mark Messier and the crap that he made Canuck fans endure in the late '90s.

Besides that offer on July 1, Gillis made an offer to restricted St. Louis Blue David Backes, signing him to an offer sheet. Backes—who will be entering his third year in the NHL next season—is exactly what the Canucks lacked last year.

The Canucks needed a young power forward with good hands who's not afraid to get dirty if necessary. Unfortunately, the Blues were in the same position and GM John Davidson pulled the trigger and matched the Canucks' offer sheet.

A week later, the tables have turned.

This time, Davidson went after the guy the Canucks got instead of Backes— former Sabre/Shark, Steve Bernier, a fourth year NHLer with roughly the same career numbers as Backes.

Gillis was quick to react though. He matched the Blues' offer sheet less than an hour after it was announced, basically saying: "Don't f*** with me! I'm tired of this s***!"

This move by Davidson may or may not have been a "revenge" move, but it sure smells like one. Davidson forced Gillis' hand this time and this could turn into an intriguing game of Cat vs. Mouse.

These two did play against each other for a couple years in the twilight of Davidson's NHL career and maybe this feud stretches as far back as the 1979-80 season when Davidson's Rangers helped push Gillis' Colorado Rockies to the worst record in the NHL.

Maybe it could result in some fisticuffs in the press box the first time the Blues face the Canucks this year. Or, maybe this is just some form of rookie hazing for the Canucks GM from one of the other "newer" NHL GMs.

Then again, it might also mean nothing. Backes and Bernier are two guys with a lot of potential and I'm sure there were several other NHL teams lining up to take a run at them.

One can always hope for GM fisticuffs, can't they?


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