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Welcome back: Vancouver officially names Linden team president

Apr 9, 2014, 12:25 PM EDT

TrevorLinden Getty Images

The Canucks dipped into their past on Wednesday, naming former team captain Trevor Linden as the President of Hockey Operations and Alternate Governor.

 “Today is a real honor,” Linden said in a statement. “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.”

Vancouver’s first-round pick (second overall) at the 1988 NHL Entry Draft, Linden spent 16 seasons with the Canucks and still holds the team’s playoff records for most games played, goals, assists and points. In 2008, his No. 16 became just the second to be retired (later to be joined by Markus Naslund’s No. 19 and Pavel Bure’s No. 10).

While he doesn’t have any front-office experience, Linden does have extensive business history (commercial and real estate developments; a line of fitness clubs) and previously served as the president of the National Hockey League Players’ Association.

“We believe in Trevor’s leadership abilities,” Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini said. “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.”

According to the Canucks’ press 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.”

The Linden hire is just the beginning of what promises to be an interesting transition in Vancouver. Following Mike Gillis’ dismissal yesterday, the team still needs to fill its general manager role and it stands to reason Linden would have influence in that decision, as he’ll essentially be working in lockstep with the new GM.

Linden’s return to Vancouver also follows in a recent trend throughout the NHL. Last year, former Colorado great Joe Sakic was promoted to vice president of Avalanche hockey ops and, earlier this season, ex-Sabres fan favorite Pat LaFontaine returned in a (temporary) presidency role to help with the transition after the team fired GM Darcy Regier and head coach Ron Rolston.

Other franchise legends that have returned to serve as team president include Boston’s Cam Neely and St. Louis’ Al MacInnis (who now serves as an advisor to the GM after several years as VP of hockey ops.)

  1. lowenni - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    I think this will be good for the Nucks. Bring in a respected guy with the team and the city who can hopefully shake up the team a bit for the better. They don’t need to totally rebuild, but just shake things up and get the team back on track. First thing on Linden’s agenda should be to fire Torts, whether or not this was just a bump in the road of a season, his style clearly does not mesh with the Nucks. Good for Linden getting to come back to his city, though.

    • nunan - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:42 PM

      To me, Torts is the equivalent of Bobby Valentine..more just a personality than anything. Granted, he won a cup and that isn’t luck but, at this point, I just don’t see him being an effective leader of a team. All the screaming, putting his players down, trying to fit finesse players into a gritty roles, etc…it just doesn’t work. I dislike the Canucks but I think the signing of a guy like Linden can have a positive ripple effect down through the rest of the organization….like Neely in Boston.

    • kaptaanamerica - Apr 9, 2014 at 7:34 PM

      First thing for Linden is to find a GM. The GM should decide what to do about the coach. It isn’t the team President’s job to hire and fire coaches….

  2. ron05342 - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    These a-holes couldn’t wait until the season ended?

    As an aside, I wonder what Linden’s strategy will be for the last three games of the season?

    What a bush team.

    • bigtganks - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:35 PM

      Season ticket renewals end today. They were at an epic low. Thousands will re-up today whereas they wouldn’t have 36 hours ago after that Ducks game.

    • elvispocomo - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      You think he’s going to adjust strategy for three games? C’mon, think about it.

      But I welcome Linden with open arms, so long as they can add someone with NHL front office experience in the GM role.

    • clarke16 - Apr 9, 2014 at 4:08 PM

      The timing of all this has shifted the ball closer to the probability that Torts is canned at season’s end. Francesco has burned many style points in his effort to insulate himself from the idea that he had anything to do with Torts hiring–and now, with the timing on Linden–he will be insulated from any direct, public awareness of what role he may have in his firing. Linden will now be blamed/celebrated for what happens from this point forward–regardless of whose fingers are really dancing the puppet.

  3. patthehockeyfan - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    Good luck to Linden. He’s going to need it with that squirrelly organization.

    P.S. Trevor – watch your back!

  4. thailer35 - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:39 PM

    Yesterday: “No, I am not part of the Canucks organization.”
    Today: “Sike!”

    • imleftcoast - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:01 PM

      Psych

      • thailer35 - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:08 PM

        Not if you’re a 90’s kid.

  5. DED - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    Perhaps they’re hoping to duplicate Yzerman’s success (player turned GM) in Tampa with one of their own.

  6. bigtganks - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:46 PM

    DAVE BABYCH as GM! Let’s just keep going the Oilers route! Gino Odjick head of scouting! Sergio Momesso as Asst. GM!

    As a Canucks fan, drives me nuts how this fanbase waxes WAY too nostalgic about that 94 team. (or the past for that matter)

    • kitshky - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:56 PM

      Um… youre the one going on about ’94 here, not the team.

      They chose an immensely popular local figure, obviously in terms of hockey but also in terms of business development. They got a respected NHL veteran with the kind of network throughout hockey you need to be a success at putting hockey people together.

      No one’s mentioned any other vet from ’94 except you.

    • bigtganks - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:56 PM

      In all seriousness, PLEASE don’t hire Naslund as GM.

  7. ibieiniid - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    I think muckle is owed an apology for the downthumbs on him telling us this news yesterday.

    • c9castine - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:54 PM

      torts may have survived this one. linden might give him a shot. he probably deserves it, lets be honest this place was a mess before he got here even if he didnt help out one iota.

      first logical bit of news to come out of vancouver in a long long time.

    • clarke16 - Apr 9, 2014 at 4:11 PM

      I agree. Nice call.

  8. muckleflugga - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    welcome back
    your dreams were your ticket out

    welcome back
    to that same old place that you laughed about

    well the names have all changed since you hung around
    but those dreams have remained and they’ve turned around

    who’d have thought they’d lead ya …
    back here where we need ya

    back here where we need ya

    • patthehockeyfan - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:20 PM

      Good one, Mr. mucklefugga Kotter!

      Signed,
      Arnold Horshack.

  9. stcrowe - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    A good first move.

    We can safely rule out the return of Mike Keenan to Vancouver.

    • hsnepsts - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:59 PM

      And Messier for that matter

  10. hsnepsts - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:05 PM

    If this club takes on the values of Trevor Linden, that will be a very good thing. Now, they just need to find a good hockey mind to make the operational decisions.

  11. clarke16 - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    Your article, of course, omitted the biggest name of all in the *legends who have returned to run/lead their former teams* Bobby Clarke.

    • Mike Halford - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:43 PM

      That is correct. I apologize.

      • clarke16 - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:16 PM

        No worries, Mike. I appreciate your insights and enjoy what you put out… :)

  12. kingcobraman - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    the dark clouds have parted…. Linden is god like in vancity….

    • clarke16 - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:32 PM

      …so is Bart Starr in Green Bay. They don’t come any bigger–but being a God in a city makes no correlation to dressing a winner on the field or ice… The bottom line is this: The guy has never done it before–not on any level in a professional sports franchise. As such–he’s a long shot that looks to be a choice more selected for his ability to put butts in seats–than iron in the glass case.

      Running an entire hockey operation and expecting success at the NHL level is a FAR cry from properly executing a toe-drag and going top shelf blocker… I don’t know enough about the man to say he CAN’T do it… I’m just saying that he doesn’t appear to have any previous experience to conclude he WILL…and that, my friends, is like grabbing the winchester and going crap shooting…

  13. muckleflugga - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    clarke16

    did clarke ever leave … i recall he and bernie parent signed lifetime services contracts though bernie’s was bought out

    • clarke16 - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:46 PM

      Yeah, MF–he left a couple of times–once to become GM of the North Stars and once to build the Panthers, I think. Each stint after 5-6 years, Bobby would resign citing burn-out…but you could never keep him away from the game. Snyder kept bringing him back (throwing draft picks/cash at the Panthers to let him go) as the Flyers crashed/burned in his absence and he promptly rebuilt them into a team that went 11 straight playoff appearances and 3 ST Finals– and he currently runs the team as Sr. VP of Hockey Operations.

      Certainly the most successful player turned Exec the NHL has ever seen. Virtually anywhere he goes–the team is successful. The 2nd of two years (’91) he was with the North Stars–they went to the Stanley Cup finals, for example.

  14. swesson57 - Apr 9, 2014 at 5:14 PM

    I hope this works out better for Vancouver than it did for Buffalo.

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