It’s been over a month since Jim Rutherford was hired as the president and interim general manager (GM) of the Vancouver Canucks. Since then, he’s been working tirelessly to find someone to succeed Jim Benning as GM. He’s made one hiring so far in assistant general manager (AGM) Derek Clancey, but that’s about it.
From a long list of 40 candidates, Rutherford has whittled it down to a reported four or five which include Patrik Allvin, Scott Mellanby and Sean Burke. All of them have never been full-time GMs in the NHL, but have served as AGMs in the past. Interviews are reportedly in the final stages, so let’s find out what each of them will bring to the table if one of them becomes the next GM of the Canucks.
Patrik Allvin is well-known to Rutherford from his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Before he resigned due to personal reasons, Allvin was his AGM and before that, director of amateur scouting. Known as a rising star in the executive world, he was in the running for the GM job in Pittsburgh before current GM Ron Hextall was hired. He is now his AGM.
Allvin has worked in the Penguins’ organization since the 2006-07 season when he was brought in as a European scout. He held that role until the 2012-13 season, at which time he was promoted to director of European scouting. Five seasons later, he was elevated to director of amateur scouting, and finally AGM on Nov. 4, 2020.
Allvin’s influence on the Penguins’ draft board has been noticeable since he was promoted to director of European scouting in 2012. During most of Ray Shero’s reign as GM, the Penguins stayed close to home when it came to their picks. Before 2012, they had only selected three players from overseas in Alexander Pechurskiy, Viktor Ekbom and Tom Kuhnhackl. Since he took over a leadership role in the scouting department, their focus has shifted more to the European side as they have selected 14 in the past nine drafts. Clearly, his influence is being felt in the organization right now.
According to many reports, Allvin is the frontrunner for the job. Though, the next two names can’t be discounted as they have impressed during their interviews with Rutherford as well.
Mellanby was a respected leader and character player throughout his time in the NHL. Drafted 27th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1984, he burst onto the scene as a rookie during the 1986 Playoffs where he helped the Flyers make it to the Stanley Cup Final with five goals and 10 points in 24 games. By the time he retired in 2007, he had played for five teams and accumulated 364 goals and 840 points in 1,431 games.
Mellanby’s best seasons came when he was with the Florida Panthers. It was there that he posted two 30-goal seasons, including a career-high 32 goals and 70 points in 1995-96. He also made it to his third Stanley Cup Final and helped inspire the ritual of throwing rubber rats on the ice after he killed one in the dressing room with his stick. Talk about a memorable season right?
Mellanby was named captain of the Panthers in 1997, a title he held until he was traded in 2001 to the St. Louis Blues. He became a fan favourite there for three seasons until he decided to sign with the Atlanta Thrashers for the 2005-06 season. After two seasons as their captain, he hung up his skates at the ripe age of 40 years old.
After almost no time away from the game, Mellanby became a pro scout for the Canucks in 2008 and shortly thereafter, a senior advisor in 2009. Following that, he dove into the world of coaching when he was hired as an assistant to Blues’ head coach Davis Payne. In 2012, he transitioned to the front office when he was hired as director of player personnel for the Montreal Canadiens. After two seasons in that role, he was promoted to AGM, a position he held until his resignation on Nov. 27, 2021. Since 2018, he was also the AGM of their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, Laval Rocket.
Now on the radar of Rutherford, Mellanby could resume his front office duties as a GM for the Canucks, a team he worked for over a decade ago when Mike Gillis was in charge of the troops. He may not have a lot of experience leading the charge, but considering he was a long-time executive for the pressure cooker that is the Canadiens, he should have enough of a backbone to handle the pressure that awaits him in Vancouver. The leadership and character he displayed in the NHL should also serve him well in the role too.
Finally, we have former Canucks goaltender Sean Burke. A relatively new name when it comes to GM candidates, he has been generating buzz ever since Rick Dhaliwal reported that he had impressed during a recent interview with the team.
“Sean Burke apparently really impressed in his interview… Sean Burke, some say, might get a second interview. Two nights ago I heard his name and then now you’re starting to hear it more and more.” – Rick Dhaliwal
Burke is no stranger to the NHL and its front offices. After 18 seasons and 820 games in the NHL where he posted a 2.96 goals-against average (GAA) and .902 save percentage (SV%), he quickly transitioned from the crease to coaching and the front office. His first job came with the team he had the most success in the NHL with, the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes. It was in the desert where he recorded a career-low 2.11 GAA and career-high .930 SV% in 2002-03. That season also saw him play six games at the World Championship and win a gold medal along with receiving Best Goaltender and Best GAA honours.
Returning as director of player development, Burke started his career without the pads. After various roles that included goaltending coach and AGM, he moved his talents to the Canadiens and the world of scouting. As a pro scout for the Western Conference, he was tasked with knowing almost every team like the back of his hand.
“The Canadiens have assigned him a roster of Western Conference teams, and he’s expected to have an educated and fully-formed opinion on every single one of the players currently toiling in those organizations, such that if a move is being considered the Montreal front office has a trusted resource to call upon” – Marc Antoine Godin, The Athletic (from ‘A chat with Sean Burke, the least-mentioned big name in the Canadiens’ front office’, The Athletic NHL, 11/11/19)
If Burke indeed impresses Rutherford enough to snag the GM job with the Canucks, he should have extensive knowledge of the teams they deal with on a day-to-day basis. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the first trades he completes involves a team out West.
In addition to his experience as a coach, AGM, scout and director of player development, Burke has also been GM of Team Canada for the Spengler Cup, World Championship and Winter Olympics. As either AGM or GM, he has won three Spengler Cups, an Olympic bronze medal, and a World Championship silver medal. Needless to say, I think he is ready to take on the challenge of being an NHL GM.
Canucks GM Search Should Be Over Soon
As the search enters its final phases, the hope will be that the Canucks get someone in place way before the trade deadline. As of right now, they have a little over two months until decisions have to be made on what direction the Canucks will take on that day. Will they be buyers or sellers? That will be up to Rutherford and hopefully the new GM. Whether it is Allvin, Mellanby, Burke or somebody else, they will be thrown right into the fire as they will be tasked with moving the franchise to the next level in their evolution. All I have to say is, I do not envy the job they have in front of them.
All stats were taken from Elite Prospects
Matthew Zator is a THW freelance writer, media editor, and scout who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.