VANCOUVER – Driving his kids to school and spending time with the family was great, but NHL veteran Scott Mellanby was anxious to get back into the game where he’d spent 20 years of his life.
That’s why Mellanby was thrilled when Mike Gillis, the new general manager of the Vancouver Canucks, contacted him and offered him a job as a consultant.
“I think Mike valued my opinion and my experience in the league,” Mellanby, 41, said Wednesday during a telephone conference call from his home in St. Louis. “I was fortunate to play 20 years, through a lot of different situations from teams like the Philadelphia Flyers, who have been around for a while, to expansion teams.
“I played with a lot of players. I think I have a lot of things to offer.”
A Canucks release said Mellanby’s job will be to assist Gillis in consulting in all areas of the hockey operations department and specifically professional player personnel.
Mellanby, who retired following the 2006-07 season, was vague on exactly what his role will be.
“Some of that is to be determined in some sense,” he said. “Being fresh off the ice I think I’m pretty in tune with the players and know a lot of guys and can help formulate some opinions.”
The Canuck front office has been undergoing major changes since the team missed the playoffs this spring for the second time in three years. Dave Nonis was fired as general manager and replaced by Gillis, a former player agent.
Laurence Gilman was recently hired as Vancouver’s director of hockey administration after spending 13 years in the Phoenix Coyotes-Winnipeg Jets organization.
There is speculation coach Alain Vigneault’s future could be decided this week when the Vancouver management and scouts meet in Las Vegas.
In his first news conference Gillis sounded like he was willing to keep Vigneault, saying a coach could only work with the “assets they have been given.”
Since then Gillis and Vigneault have met several times but there has been no announcement on whether the coach will return.
It’s believed Gillis wants to transform the Canucks from a defence-first team to a club that scores more goals and plays an up-tempo style. Doing that could require a change in coaching and different players on the ice.
Vancouver is expected to make some deals at the NHL draft and be active in the free agent market this summer.
Mellanby won’t comment on specific Canucks needs.
“I’m not going to get into talking about the team and what they need and don’t need,” he said.
“The bottom line at this point is there are things coming up quickly here over the summer. Mike basically wanted me involved. After speaking with him at length I wanted to be involved.”
Gillis is happy to add Mellanby to the Vancouver front office.
“We are pleased that Scott has agreed to join our hockey operations department,” Gillis said in a statement. “His experiences in our league over two decades as a player will be a great asset to me and our entire department.”
Born in Montreal, Mellanby was drafted 27th overall by Philadelphia in 1984. During his career he played with the Flyers, Edmonton, Florida, St. Louis and Atlanta. He was captain in both Florida and Atlanta.
In 1,431 NHL games Mellanby scored 364 goals and collected 476 assists.
He became a fan favourite in Florida when he killed a rat with his hockey stick in the team dressing room. That led fans to start throwing plastic rats on the ice each time the Panthers scored a goal.
Mellanby did some work with Hockey Night in Canada this season but said he felt awkward.
“I didn’t feel real comfortable,” he said. “Sometimes in the media you have to have strong opinions. I just felt a loyalty to some of the players and the coaches I had played with.”
The father of three has thought about coaching but isn’t sure if that’s the path he wants to follow.
“With my family at this point, I don’t see coaching as the right option for me,” said Mellanby. “Will I get into it down the road? Maybe.
“I’m not saying this (Canucks job) is a stepping stone to coaching. This is something that is a great opportunity to learn the business and provide, hopefully, some valuable information that can help the Vancouver Canucks.”