Canucks' GM to take on role

Updated: August 4, 2009, 8:45 PM ET
Associated Press

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Vancouver Canucks president and chief executive officer Chris Zimmerman is stepping down.

Zimmerman is leaving for family reasons, the team said Tuesday in a statement.

The 49-year-old Zimmerman, a former Nike executive, held the job for three years. Canucks general manager Mike Gillis will also take on the role of president of Canucks Sports and Entertainment.

"These past three years have been a tremendous personal and professional experience for me and I have loved working and living in the greatest hockey city in the world," Zimmerman said in a statement.

Gillis will work with Victor de Bonis, the Canucks' chief operating officer, and be responsible for the overall strategic direction of the franchise, including broadcast, marketing, sponsorship and ticket sales, finance, human resources and arena operations.

"Most of my responsibility will remain with hockey operations," Gillis said during a conference call. "I see this more as a transitional role between the business side of the company and the hockey operations side, just to make sure everyone is in sync and how we are moving forward.

"I don't see this distracting from my priority, which is hockey operations."

Zimmerman was hired in October 2006 to replace former Canuck president Stan McCammon.

The Canucks also announced that Tod Leiweke, CEO of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, is joining the board of Canucks Sports and Entertainment. Leiweke, a former senior executive with the Canucks, will serve as an adviser to owner Francesco Aquilini, Gillis and de Bonis.

"I think his input will be invaluable," Gillis said. "The experience he will bring, and the insight he will bring having been part of the NFL, will be invaluable."

In other Canucks news, Gillis said talks are continuing on a contract extension for Roberto Luongo. The Canucks' All-Star goalie is entering the final season of a four-year, $27 million deal and could become an unrestricted free agent next July.

"We're confident we'll get something done before the summer is out," Gillis said.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press