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NHL: Struggling Canucks fire GM Gillis

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The Vancouver Canucks fired president and GM Mike Gillis on Tuesday, after the National Hockey League club missed the playoffs for the first time in six years.

Gillis has been heavily criticized this season for the hiring of bombastic head coach John Tortorella who was suspended for 15 days earlier this season after he tried to start a fight with Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley.

The firing of the 55-year-old Gillis leaves many wondering if first-year Canuck coach Tortorella is the next to be shown the door?

Francesco Aquilini, chairman of Canucks Sports & Entertainment, thanked Gillis for his service but said they couldn't go on without making a major change at the top.

Vancouver was officially eliminated from this year's playoffs on Monday when they were shutout 3-0 by the Anaheim Ducks.

"We have reached a point where a change in leadership and new voice is needed," Aquilini said Tuesday.

Gillis' firing comes with just three games left in the 2013-14 regular season. The Canucks have gone 10-19 since Tortorella had his meltdown against Calgary at Vancouver's Rogers Arena.

Vancouver have been eliminated in the first round in each of the last two seasons after losing in the NHL championship series in 2011.

The Canucks are 11th in the Western Conference.

"We haven't met their (fans) expectations or ours," Aquilini said. "We are committed to bringing the Stanley Cup to Vancouver for our fans and we will continue to do everything possible to reach that goal."

Gillis has been with Vancouver since 2008. He enjoyed some early success with the club and was signed to a contract extension two years ago.

He helped turn a club which had missed out on the playoffs in two of the previous three seasons into a contender.

Under Gillis, Vancouver claimed five straight playoff berths, five Northwest Division titles and two Presidents' Trophies, which is given to the team that finishes with the most points in the regular season.

gph/nr

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140408/nhl-struggling-canucks-fire-gm-gillis