Over the past couple days, many people have chimed in with their opinion on the Dave Nonis firing. While there is support both for and against the move, I am going to count myself in the “against the move” camp. To me, it is quite simple what cost Dave Nonis his job–he’s not selfish.
Bear with me for a second here. Let’s all think back to right before last season’s trade deadline. Does anyone remember Don Waddell’s pre-deadline moves? His trade of draft picks for soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Keith Tkachuk. Or, better yet, his trade of Braydon Coburn for Alexei Zhitnik. Both these moves were short-sighted, and lopsided in the other team’s favor; however, Waddell’s team made the playoffs last season. Forget the fact that they were swept easily by the Rangers, they made the playoffs! Isn’t that terrific! A team made the playoffs and was out in four games.
You know, all I keep hearing about Dave Nonis was that he missed the playoffs in two of his three seasons as GM of the Canucks. But does anyone honestly think that if the Canucks snuck into the playoffs, that they could have beat the Red Wings or the Sharks? C’mon now. The team just was not good enough.
Now, I’m not here to absolve Nonis of all the blame. He did put this team together and the group completely lacked secondary scoring. That, rightfully, falls on his shoulders. But his solid defensive corps was injured all year, and if they had been healthy, they’d surely have made the playoffs. However, as we have pointed out, the team wasn’t going to win this season regardless. Sometimes you just aren’t good enough.
That brings us to this summer. If you look closely, you will notice that Nonis (try saying that fives times over) did not mortgage the team’s future. In fact, he held onto all the team’s top prospects. He did what was right for the organization, not himself. Surely, Nonis could have sold off his team’s cheap assets to get into the playoffs. If that happened, Nonis would have been to the playoffs in two of the last three seasons. He probably would have saved his job just like Don Waddell did. But, unselfishly, he didn’t. He put the organization and team first, and was building for the future. A future he hoped would include a Stanley Cup, not just some measly playoff birth.
The action by the Vancouver ownership was unfortunate. The team is heading into this summer having just less than ten million dollars to spend on offense, with Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison coming off the books. Moreover, Nonis was apparently close to securing much sought after Swede Fabian Brunnstrom’s services. In short, the team was moving in the right direction, and had room to grow. Now, however, uncertainty is abound and no one, maybe not even ownership, knows what the vision of the organization is.
For Illegal Curve, I’m Richard Pollock.