icon Trevor Linden (left, with Stan Smyl) may have to contend with a meddling owner. (Getty Images)
By Allan Muir
Their season isn't officially over, but the reconstruction of the Canucks has begun in earnest.
A day after sending GM Mike Gillis packing, Vancouver continued its front-office makeover with the hiring of franchise legend Trevor Linden as the team's new president.
According to a team release, Linden will be responsible for all hockey operations, including the coaching and scouting staffs, player procurement and development, and minor league affiliations and operations.
“Today is a real honour," Linden said. "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. I'm passionate about the Canucks and I want to win -- just like our fans. I believe in this team and share the organization’s commitment to excellence on and off of the ice. I am looking forward to getting started -- getting to know everyone in the organization, and working together to win the Stanley Cup for this great city."
We'll have to take him at his word there -- even though he lied to us all yesterday.
There's no telling whether Linden was the right hire -- that will reveal itself during the next three to five years -- but even with a paucity of experience, he feels like the right hire for this moment. A leap of faith, sure, but it's one that a loudly disenchanted public is willing to take.
The reverence Canucks fans feel for Linden will be critical in that it gives him a lot of rope to work with as he acclimates himself to his new position and constructs a plan for the revival of the team. But good will or no, his plan had better be a beauty. There weren't a lot of specifics mentioned today, but Linden faces a massive task in rebuilding the front office, the scouting staff and the team itself.
And on top of all that, he has to deal with a significant challenge upstairs. There's a widely held belief that owner Francesco Aquilini
has taken a hands-on approach in many hockey decisions, including the hiring of coach John Tortorella last summer over the objections of Gillis.
Aquilini is the one signing the checks and if that's the way he wants to play it, that's his prerogative. But as anyone with a passing acquaintance with Jerry Jones and the NFL's Dallas Cowboys can tell you, an owner who fancies himself as a qualified decision maker is usually a franchise killer.
The first order of business, then, for Linden will be to convince Aquilini to take care of the business and leave hockey matters to him and his staff. If he can do that -- and if has the juice to convince his boss that a new voice behind the bench is necessary for this group to move forward -- then maybe there's hope for this team in the not-too-distant future.