First, here’s the media announcement from the Vancouver Canucks followed by the what’s and why’s just after …
Vancouver, BC – Vancouver Canucks President, Hockey Operations and Interim General Manager Jim Rutherford announced today that Stan Smyl has been promoted to Vice President of Hockey Operations.
Rutherford also confirmed that Daniel and Henrik Sedin will remain as Special Advisors to the General Manager, and Ryan Johnson will continue as Senior Director, Player Development and General Manager for the Abbotsford Canucks.
“Stan has been a foundational piece of this team for decades, and we are pleased that he will be taking on this role,” said Rutherford. “In addition, Henrik, Daniel, and Ryan are key parts of our leadership team. We still have some additional roles to fill, but confirming these positions today is a big step for us.”
Stan Smyl, 62, will work closely with Rutherford on all hockey operations matters, including player personnel decisions and internal operations. Smyl is a Canucks legend, having served as an executive, coach, or player since 1978. The former team Captain has held several leadership roles in the front office since 2005, including Director of Player Development and Senior Advisor to the General Manager. He most recently stepped in as Interim General Manager to help lead the Canucks during the Hockey Operations leadership change.
The position for Smyl is self-explanatory. Continuity for the franchise, staying in touch with its beloved roots, and honouring and involving a popular legend, besides the fact “Steamer” brings decades of hockey sense and knowledge through playing, coaching, and advising.
Ryan Johnson is fine where he is and this doesn’t come as a surprise. The 45-year-old former Canucks player has been GM of the AHL franchise since the summer of 2017 when it was in Utica, New York and has continued the role with the move this season to Abbotsford. As part of the brain trust under Rutherford, he’ll simply gain more knowledge that can be used to move up this organization’s ladder or to move on to other bright opportunities.
Daniel and Henrik are new to the executive branch of hockey, so continuing as “special advisors” makes sense for now as they learn the biz from another angle. Soon enough they’ll be Hockey Hall of Fame inductees as players.
These manoeuvres quickly solidify and clarify existing roles within the organization and allow Rutherford to move forward in hiring another Assistant General Manager or two and look ahead to replacing himself with a new general manager at some point down the road.
Thursday’s announcement comes one day after Rutherford hired Derek Clancey as an Assistant GM for the Canucks. A long time pro scout and director of scouting under Rutherford in Pittsburgh, Clancey helped win three Stanley Cups with the Penguins during his tenure there between 2007 and early 2021.