Trevor Linden is a great guy and a Vancouver Canucks icon – let’s just get that out of the way immediately. However, his hiring as the team’s president of hockey operations is nothing more than a public relations move to sell tickets.
That he’ll do. Canucks fans still love their longtime captain and he has been a pillar in the Vancouver community for years. This team needs a little good news after it was eliminated from playoff contention and subsequently fired general manager Mike Gillis Thursday.
Soon after that news came down, rumors of Linden coming on board began surfacing. To Canucks fans, furious about the team’s second-half collapse, the Roberto Luongo saga, John Tortorella’s issues – the mere mention of Linden’s name was a ray of sunshine.
But that’s all it is, let’s be very clear about that. Linden has been out of hockey for six years and has next to no involvement with the NHL since he retired. What’s he been up to? Oh, you know he has his own line of eyewear now and opened a pile of fitness centres. Every now and then he’d suit up for an exhibition game or drop a puck at a ceremonial faceoff.
But that’s it. No scouting jobs. No “consultation” gigs ex-players often target. Nothing, really. He did some work with the NHLPA back in the day, but that’s not dealing with day-to-day duties of an NHL team.
Despite the lack of experience, he’s somehow leapfrogged countless experienced hockey executives with decades of experience to land in Vancouver’s front office. Of course, what his real role will be with the hockey club is anybody’s guess, but at least to begin with, he’ll be shaking hands and kissing babies in an attempt to put a positive spin on a disastrous season.
Again, this is no slight to Linden. If you were offered a big executive job with one of the most financially successfully hockey teams in the country, you’d take it too. But Linden will be no savior to Canucks fans. The team is broken and not even No. 16 can save it at this point.
Vancouver is in a transitional stage – still too good to be this bad in the standings justifying a rebuilding phase and not nearly good enough to contend anymore. Compounding that problem is John Tortorella. He wants his team to play his way come hell or high water. The only problem with that is he doesn’t have the players to play his system – collapsing in the defensive zone, blocking shots, waiting for that one perfect opportunity to pounce on a turnover or an odd-man rush.
If Linden has any say in the matter, he’d better hire an experienced GM immediately, get Tortorella out of that dressing room, and find a coach who will play to the team’s strengths instead of its weaknesses. Then they need to start scouting and planning for life after the Sedins, or better yet, move the twins before they have next to no value. It’s time for the Canucks to realize they’re a lot closer to the bottom of the mountain than the top and take drastic action to either head up or go down in a hurry because if there’s one thing fans won’t put up with, it’s living in hockey purgatory.
Otherwise, we’ll be back talking about what’s wrong with the Canucks next November and Linden himself might find himself wearing a bulls-eye.