Canucks name John Weisbrod assistant general manager

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Image: Calgary Flames

The Vancouver Canucks announced (formalized?) today that John Weisbrod will be taking on the role of assistant general manager with the club. They also announced several new roles for the Hockey Ops and Human Performance staff. Yes, they have a department called the “Human Performance”, which if that doesn’t signal an Orwellian future being right around the corner, I don’t know what else will.

Weisbrod, who joined the Canucks in 2014 as vice president of player personnel, has now climbed further up the greasy pole (a Disraeli reference, oh what a day this is becoming) to sit in the assistant GM position previously held by Laurence Gilman and Lorne Henning.

Weisbrod is a bit of a polarizing fellow, having been the Tracy McGrady’s ire during his stint as GM of the Orlando Magic.

“Honestly, as long as John Weisbrod was the GM there was no way, no way I’d step another foot in a Magic uniform. It was just his whole demeanor and the whole way he goes about doing business and doing things. I don’t know if I can say this, but I’m gonna say it, ‘He’s an (expletive).”

Of course Tracy himself was also a bit of a polarizing figure, but it’s still not every day you have a player publicly calling their former GM an…insert a bad word of your choice. A nutter butter? Let’s go with nutter butter.

Weisbrod also spent time with the Flames as an assistant GM in 2011, where two events stand out for him. One, the 2012 draft, and two, the Ryan O’Reilly offer sheet.

The Flames went off the board to take Mark Jankowski 21st overall in the 2012 draft. According to Weisbrod, Jankowski was the next “Joe Nieuwendyk”. Jankowski has not performed as well as to be expected since being drafted (8 goals, 19 assists in 37 games with Providence College last year), and looks to fall quite short of the lofty title Weisbrod assigned to him. When you’re performing marginally better than Patrick White, people have a reason to be worried.

Of course, one failed draft pick is hardly something to discredit a guy with, and it’s also hard to assign blame fully on Weisbrod for the pick (others in Flames management were in love with the kid as well), but it is a heavily debated topic amongst Calgary fans so we’d be remiss if we didn’t bring it up.

The Ryan O’Reilly situation is worse, because it involved Calgary signing an offer sheet to O’Reilly, which if not matched, would have required O’Reilly to go through waivers before joining the team. O’Reilly would not have made it through waivers (he was waiver eligible, unbeknownst to Calgary), which would have left Calgary having paid a 1st and 3rd round pick for the honor of giving O’Reilly to another team.

Now again, it’s hard to sift through that mess and assign blame to particular individuals. We weren’t there, and nobody from that management team has come out to throw anybody under the bus about who was the driving force behind the offer sheet. However, the fact remains he was still part of a management team that almost made an embarrassing mistake, which isn’t a great look for him.

Again, there is nothing glaringly bad about Weisbrod’s resume, but he certainly brings an interesting personality to the front office. When reading his interviews, you get the sense he’s a big talker, often talking about players with absolutes (Jankowski is Nieuwendyk, Nieuwendyk is Jankowski!). During his time with Orlando he once told a story about how he decided that Tracy McGrady had to go.

“[McGrady]was one of the most talented players in the league, very popular, but I came to the conclusion he didn’t have the internal fortitude to win a championship,” Weisbrod said. “I went to the ownership and said, ‘He can be Robin, not Batman.’ The FBI moved me out of my house to a hotel under an alias [because of the public’s anger]

Advanced stats fans will cringe at the apparent intangible related decision making Weisbrod used. Maybe it was just Weisbrod dressing up the story, as he seems prone to do. Either way, Weisbrod’s should be wary of making grand statements in a market famous for throwing them back at people. Mike “Bold Moves” Gillis would agree. In a world of canned responses, though, some might find his bold talk refreshing.

The other moves made today, the Canucks shored up the Hockey Ops Department, bringing in Judd Brackett as Director of Amateur Scouting (to replace Eric Crawford), and Chris Gear as VP of General Counsel.

Former Canuck Ryan Johnson (that guy who blocked shots by wildly placing himself out of position) who had been with the Canucks in a consultant role, was officially brought in as Assistant Director of Player Development, and Mike Addesa was added as an amateur scout.

The Human Performance Department (that name still kills me) also named Rick Celebrini as Director of Rehab, and Jon Sanderson was named Head Athletic Therapist, finishing up the changes that occurred when Mike Burnstein was shockingly let go in July.

With these positions being made formalized today, it’s clear we are officially in the Jim Benning era, for better or for worse. As a famous Jurassic Park character once said, hold on to your butts!

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Wyatt Arndt Wyatt Arndt is a freelance writer who currently writes for The Province, Canucks Army, Canucks.com and Vancity Buzz. He's probably written in bathroom stalls near you as well. You can find him on Twitter where he is most likely making fun of Eddie Lack's goalie mask.
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