Canucks name Trevor Linden president of hockey operations

Apr 9, 12:09 PM

On Wednesday morning the Vancouver Canucks officially announced the hiring of long-time former captain Trevor Linden as the organization's president of hockey operations. 

In his front office role Linden will be responsible for "all hockey operations, including the coaching and scouting staffs, player procurement and development, and minor league affiliations and operations." 

That's a diverse portfolio, especially for a guy who has never worked in an NHL front office (or a minor-league front office, for that matter).

"We believe in Trevor's leadership abilities," Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini said in a team release. "His 20 years of NHL experience including seven as team captain, his role as NHLPA President, community leader and businessman offers a very special skill set; one that will positively shape the direction of this club in the future."

Added Linden: "Today is a real honour. I came to Vancouver 26 years ago and I have never left. I love this city. It is my home and the Canucks have always been part of my family."

Linden will be officially introduced at a press conference at 1:30 pm EST.

Apr 13, 11:28 PM

Canucks president Linden on Tortorella's future: 'It's important to make a decision early'

Apr 13, 11:28 PM

Last week the Vancouver Canucks dramatically altered their management structure by hiring Trevor Linden as president of hockey operations, and deposing general manager Mike Gillis. 

More changes are expected in Vancouver, as the organization still needs to hire a replacement general manager. It's also presumed that head coach John Tortorella - who guided the Canucks to their first non-playoff season in six years during his inaugural campaign with the team  - will be shown the door.

Late last week Linden implied in an interview that he believed poor coaching had played in a role in the demise of the Canucks as a perpetual contender. On Sunday, during an intermission interview with Sportsnet Pacific host Dan Murphy, Linden praised Tortorella's abilities.

"I have a great deal of respect for John," Linden said. "He's had a great career, won a Stanley Cup, been around a long time, won a lot of games." Continued Linden: "My job is to fully digest everything I can from him and, of course, talk to the players. Those (conversations) aren't fully determining in what we do. I have to gather all the facts and all the data and decide what the best course for this franchise is."

Linden added that it was likely the team would make a decision on Tortorella's future shortly:

I think it's important to make a decision early, because I don't want people sitting in limbo and I don't want the organization like that," he said. "It's important that I take enough time to understand everything and part of that is going to happen throughout this week i have to sit down with John a couple times and sit down with the players."

Feature photo courtesy of Shaun Best / REUTERS

Apr 11, 1:35 PM

Trevor Linden seems to believe coaching contributed to Canucks' recent struggles

Apr 11, 1:35 PM

Freshly-minted Vancouver Canucks president of hockey operations Trevor Linden is something of a blank slate as a front office executive. Despite a successful 20 year career as an NHL player, Linden seemingly spent the past six years building successful real estate and fitness businesses, and training for triathlons. 

Also, presumably, blending kale into green smoothies. Because that's what it takes to be a beloved Vancouver icon.

Linden is, by all accounts, an intelligent guy with experience in both the hockey and business worlds - but because he's never spent time in an NHL front office (or a minor league front office, for that matter) - not much is known about his team-building philosophy, or how he'd like to see the Canucks play going forward. 

On Friday morning, Linden appeared on the Bill Good Show on CKNW radio in Vancouver to shed some light on his hockey-related opinions. He also appeared to softly criticize head coach John Tortorella's handling of the disappointing, draft lottery bound Canucks this past season.

"I think you have to use your people where they will best excel, and good coaches understand that," Linden said in response to a question about whether or not the Sedin twins were misused by Tortorella (transcription via vancitybuzz.com). "I haven’t talked to John about it. I think most people would say you put your best offensive players in the most offensive positions you can."

Linden continued, addressing the use of the Sedin twins in penalty-killing situations this past season: "It’s one of those things where I probably felt personally it was a misuse of their abilities, but I’d have to dig deeper into it."

Not all of Linden's criticism was directed at Tortorella, as the new (and old) face of the Canucks franchise also took aim at the club's lack of depth the past several seasons:

When I think about the coaches that were most influential for me, if you take Pat Quinn for example, his greatest strength was to use his whole bench. I think certain players can take big minutes, and certain players start to economize.

When you save yourself because you know you’re going to play X amount of minutes, it’s not a great thing for your bench. I think when you take other players out of the game by playing them such small minutes, that can detract from the overall team identity

Linden brought up the depth question twice during the interview, the second time in answer to a question about whether the Canucks roster needs to be bigger, and faster. 

"Big and fast is always a good thing in any sport," Linden answered. "The model never changes. I think we need to support the core guys with people from underneath, and I think that’s been part of the disconnect in the last couple of years."

Former Canucks coach Pat Quinn, who remains close with Linden, took more direct aim at some of Tortorella's decision making, and his shot-blocking heavy coaching style, during the same interview:

During the first part of the year, (the Canucks) played (their) veterans until their noses were bleeding, and then we started to hit the injuries. I talked to (team doctor) Mike Bernstein and he said the injuries are terrible. He said so many of them are coming from the blocked shots and they’re fractures, and they’re not easily healed.

At his introductory press conference Linden assured the media, regarding the future of Tortorella, that "any sort of coaching decision will be made in due time after thorough evaluation." 

But you don't need to bicycling competitively, at top speed, to get a feel for which way the wind is blowing. 

Stick-tap to Vancitybuzz.com.

Feature photo courtesy of Andy Clark / REUTERS

Apr 9, 5:20 PM

Linden named Canucks' president of hockey operations: 'I’m ready for this challenge’

Apr 9, 5:20 PM

The Canucks named Trevor Linden the team's president of hockey operations on Wednesday, and after serving as the team's captain for seven seasons as a player, he says he believes he is ready for new opportunities in Vancouver.

“When this opportunity to be president of hockey operations was presented to me, I gave it great thought and I simply could not pass it up," Linden said at a news conference Wednesday. "Through my 20 years as a player, 15 years with the NHLPA and my more recent work in growing and leading a private business, I believe I’m ready for this challenge. I’m young, I’m passionate about this team, and I want to win, just like the Canuck fans do.”

It was also revealed that Linden has been given full autonomy to make all decisions on hockey related personnel, such as players, coaches, free-agents, and a new general manager. In terms of the latter, Linden stated "we'll do a general manager search from within and outside of our organization."

Linden added this on the status of John Tortorella and the coaching staff:

I come into it with a fresh set of eyes. Obivously I understand the challenges with coaching, I've been a player for 20 years, I look forward to sitting down with the players and understanding the ins and outs of the issues. Those decisions will be made down the road, a critical path is assessing a general manager and the structure of our operations - be it on the pro, or amateur side - and any sort of coaching decision will be made in due time after thorough evaluation.

Finally, Linden said he has spoken to former players in his position who may be able to impart wisdom on making the leap to the front office.

My experience comes from playing, no question, I look at some of my colleagues whether it be Joe Sakic or Steve Yzerman or Cam Neely - who I spoke to in the last few days - I think it's one of those things where you need to surround yourself with good people. It's about building a team both on and off the ice. I have a lot of respect for a lot of people in this organization. Obviously there will be some changes, but I intend to surround myself with good, thoughtful, independent people and that's how I'll make the right decisions (beat) that's how the organization will make the right decisions.

The full press conference can be viewed here:

Apr 9, 9:43 AM

Canucks owner Aquilini expected to name Trevor Linden team president on Wednesday

Apr 9, 9:43 AM

Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini will address the media during a press conference on Wednesday morning in Vancouver. It's widely expected that he'll appoint former Canucks captain Trevor Linden as the new president of Canucks Sports & Entertainment.

TSN's Farhan Lalji reports that Linden will be named president on Wednesday, while Vancouver Province beat writer Jason Botchford is hearing similar rumblings

There have been conflicting reports from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, however, suggesting that the Vancouver Canucks were negotiating with Hockey Canada CEO Bob Nicholson about assuming the role of team president. In Campbell's formulation, Linden would take over as Canucks general manager.

So it appears that, in some capacity, the Canucks will announce the hiring of Linden on Wednesday. The long-time Canucks captain has his number 16 retired by the franchise, and is likely the most popular Canucks player of all time in the Vancouver sports market.

Attention will now turn to the status of Canucks head coach John Tortorella. According to Lalji, Tortorella's lucrative five-year contract with the team includes a buyout provision that would substantially lessen the amount due to the controversial American bench boss were he to be relieved of duties.

Feature photo courtesy of Andy Clark / REUTERS

Apr 8, 2:54 PM

Canucks fire president and general manager Mike Gillis

Apr 8, 2:54 PM

The Vancouver Canucks have relieved Mike Gillis from his duties as the organization's general manager and the president of Canucks Sports & Entertainment. 

"On behalf of my entire family, I would like to sincerely thank Mike Gillis for his hard work and the many contributions he made on and off the ice during his tenure,” Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini said in a team release.

Canucks assistant general manager Laurence Gilman will remain with the team in an undefined front office role for now.

Read theScore's Justin Bourne's analysis for more on Gillis' departure from Vancouver. He was a good general manager, and the team enjoyed success under his guidance, but he had to go, writes Bourne. 

Feature photo courtesy of Ben Nelms / REUTERS

Apr 8, 11:08 AM

Report: Trevor Linden being considered to replace Mike Gillis as Canucks president

Apr 8, 11:08 AM

The Vancouver Canucks are reportedly poised to name former captain Trevor Linden their new team president, although Bob McKenzie says nothing is official as of yet. Current general manager Mike Gillis also serves as the organization's president at the moment.

Canucks ownership was reportedly courting Linden as of late March, according to Elliotte Friedman. But it's not clear exactly what Linden's role with the team would entail.

TSN's Darren Dreger suggests that in appointing Linden to an executive role, the Canucks might be aping the Colorado Avalanche's "template." Meanwhile McKenzie wonders if Linden may be brought in to conduct the search for a new general manager, similar to what Pat LaFontaine recently did in Buffalo.

For what it's worth Linden denied having been approached by Canucks ownership in an interview with Global News on Tuesday morning. "I’ve always said to people: if the opportunity is right and the time was right, I’d have to seriously consider it," Linden said.

Linden captained the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final in 1994, and played more than 1,000 games during two tours of duty with the franchise. Though Linden served as president of the NHLPA for a time, and played a central role in ousting NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow in 2005, he's never coached or managed a hockey team at a high level.

Of late, Linden seems to have spent his time building a chain of gyms in Vancouver, dubbed "Club 16 Trevor Linden Fitness."

Feature photo courtesy of REUTERS / Ben Nelms

Apr 8, 9:53 AM

Canucks rumored to be close to shaking up management team after disappointing season

Apr 8, 9:53 AM

There's a lot of smoke emanating from the city of Vancouver on Tuesday morning, and the source of it isn't the smoldering ruins of the Canucks' wasted season. At least not directly.

Rather there's a whole host of rumors, stemming from some of the most reliable sources in the business, suggesting that dramatic changes in the Canucks' management structure are imminent. 

"Hearing whispers that perhaps change is coming sooner rather than later with the Canucks, perhaps as soon as today or tomorrow," tweeted ESPN reporter Pierre LeBrun on Tuesday morning. "Nothing concrete as I said, but those are whispers out of Van city. Will it be the GM? or the coach? We shall see..."

TSN's Bob McKenzie chimed in as well, tweeting that he was hearing the same rumblings out of Vancouver. "(The Vancouver) situation is highly volatile, and also highly unpredictable," McKenzie tweeted. "A LOT of money involved in making changes. Lots of moving parts."

Both general manager Mike Gillis and head coach John Tortorella signed lucrative five-year contracts last summer. LeBrun spelled out the money aspect of this saga last week on an Insider Trading segment on TSN:

Nothing has been officially decided but all indications lead to the fact that the Canucks are headed towards a separation with their coach John Tortorella. It's going to be a costly one, he still has four years and $8 million on that deal he signed last summer, but he's never really been a good fit with this roster and I think he'll pay the ultimate price for a very disappointing season in Vancouver.

The more intriguing decision is with the GM, Mike Gillis, what will ownership do with him? He's had a long run there, a lot of people believe he deserves another year there to right this ship, but that decision has not been (made).

Vancouver Province beat writer Jason Botchford handicapped how all of this discontent was likely to play out in his game story Monday night. His suggestion? Perhaps it's Gillis who will find himself out of work, while Tortorella remains the Canucks' bench boss:

Still, no one knows what the Aquilinis are going to do and I don’t believe there is a betting favourite.

Some believe the owners would like to fire Gillis, and could pull the trigger before the end of the season. Many called his interview Thursday a success, but it may not have been viewed that way in the owners’ suite...

So you can imagine how they felt with the perception that in the TEAM 1040 interview Gillis was hinting he hasn’t been calling all the shots here.

Gillis’s comments are open to interpretation, but there are those who believed there was a “my way or the highway” tone directed at ownership.

When he said things like "I deviated from things that have been successful," some took it as him suggesting he hasn’t been in total control.

If the owners do fire Gillis, they will be hoping a new general manager would be willing to keep Torts.

Apr 8, 8:23 AM

VIDEO: Canucks fans serenade team with 'Fire Gillis' chant

Apr 8, 8:23 AM

On Monday night the Vancouver Canucks put in a hapless performance in a 3-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. With another uninspired performance in a losing effort, the club, just three years removed from a Stanley Cup Final appearance, found themselves mathematically eliminated from postseason contention.

The Canucks haven't missed the playoffs in six seasons, and fans in Vancouver aren't used to an April without playoff hockey. The organization, generally, hasn't been tolerant of missing the postseason in the past either; the last time the franchise failed to qualify for the postseason the Canucks fired then general manager Dave Nonis in 2008.

Late last week, current general manager Mike Gillis admitted on the radio that he wasn't sure he'd be back next season. He won't be, if the vocal collection of the Rogers Arena faithful have their say:

[By Pensblog staff, courtesy Sportsnet]

This season will be Gillis' first year out of the playoffs since he took over as the top hockey executive in Vancouver. While the club has been successful on the ice and financially throughout his tenure, the team has struggled to find quality depth players through the draft and Gillis' mishandling of the Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider trades has seemed to alienate fans.

The fanbase isn't just heckling management, even worse, they're also staying away from Canucks games:

Apr 3, 12:07 PM

Canucks GM Gillis uncertain about his future with the team, status of HC Tortorella

Apr 3, 12:07 PM

Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis spoke on TEAM 1040 Radio on Thursday, and gave an interesting response to whether head coach John Tortorella would be back with the team next season.

When asked to expound, Gillis said "I think everyone is open for evaluation. We've had players that have severely underperformed. Our team has underperformed. I think that we're all open to evaluation and we all deserve evaluation and that's what going to come." (via nicholsonhockey.com)

Gillis added he thought the team may be better served by returning to the more possession-focused style of yesteryear as opposed to the defensive-minded system employed by Tortorella.

When you have an entire team's level of performance drop off there has to be reasons for it. Whether those things are attributable to one thing and one thing only is unlikely. I think it's a combination of things that have contributed to us not performing at a level that's expected and I think those things need to be addressed systematically and completely and turned around so that we can build the style of play and style of team that we want to have here.

You know, John's an accomplished coach. Six years ago everyone thought Alain Vigneault couldn't change from a defensive style coach to an offensive style coach. If given the resources and if the players are committed to it, I think any coach can coach the team that he has.

The Canucks sit 21st in the NHL and are unlikely to qualify for the playoffs, signalling a potentially busy offseason in Vancouver.

The full interview can be heard here.

Feature photo courtesy of Ben Nelms / Reuters

Mar 12, 2:34 PM

Canucks GM Gillis will not discuss Tortorella's job

Mar 12, 2:34 PM

Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis told reporters Wednesday at the annual GM meetings in Boca Raton, Florida, he would not discuss the future of head coach John Tortorella's job.

With the team seemingly falling apart and fans calling for Tortorella to be fired, Gillis told reporters commenting on the rumors would give them credibility. 

"That's rumor and speculation. I'm not commenting on that because then it just lends credibility to what's out there with bloggers and all kinds of different people. So it's unfair to comment on any future plans other than what we've already said, which is we're trying to get younger, we're trying to retool and we're trying to do some things differently the next one, three, five years."

Gillis mentioned Tortorella's suspension in January was "hard to describe" and this season has been the most challenging through his time in Vancouver.