There was a time that the people of Edmonton loved Kevin Lowe, and for good reason. Lowe’s first stint with the Oilers lasted 13 seasons, during which time he helped lead the team to five Stanley Cups. He was a member of the Oilers during their best times — the years the fan still look on with the most fondness.
Lowe was traded to the New York Rangers in 1992, but he returned to the Oilers in 1996, playing his final two years in front of the fans that loved him most, then retired in 1998 after being sidelined with an inner-ear issue that was affecting his balance.
It was hardly the end of Lowe’s time with in Edmonton. He retired straight into coaching, taking a job as an Oilers assistant coach the same year he retired. A year later, he was the head coach, and a year after that, he was promoted to General Manager. Eight years after that, with fans calling for his head after assembling a team capable of winning little else but the draft lottery, he was promoted instead to President of Hockey Operations.
In Edmonton, Kevin Lowe is now all but despised. From the Edmonton Journal:
Stickers to axe Lowe have been printed up to put on vehicles. Creative fans are at work making anti-Lowe graphics. The attacks on Twitter against Lowe are relentless.
Lowe’s standing with fans hasn’t just been harmed by the team’s losing, but by Lowe’s clumsy talk of two tiers of fans at the March 2013 press conference when he announced the hiring of a new GM, Craig MacTavish. In that same moment, Lowe also talked about his record as a winner, bringing up his six Stanley Cup rings earned as a player, something that has bothered many fans, who wonder what his on-ice success had to do with his management of the team in the new complex, salary-cap world of the NHL.
There are places in Edmonton it’s probably no longer safe for Kevin Lowe. Kevin Lowe! The guy who once played through broken ribs in the Stanley Cup Final, prompting Wayne Gretzky himself to opine, “That’s what it takes to win a Stanley Cup.”
Meanwhile, speaking of guys who heroically battled mangled midsections on memorable Cup drives, Bob McKenzie reports that Trevor Linden’s name is in the mix to be the new Team President of the Vancouver Canucks.
One scenario, as yet UNCONFIRMED, is GM Mike Gillis would be fired, Linden would hire new GM and new GM would sort out future of Tortorella.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) April 8, 2014
Presumably, this would be a situation similar to Joe Sakic’s return to Colorado, or Pat LaFontaine’s short stint in Buffalo, where he was brought in to sort out the coach and GM situation, and hired Tim Murray as GM before jumping ship almost immediately and returning to New York. (That last part wasn’t supposed to happen.)
But it’s hardly a done deal. It may not even be a real deal. On Tuesday morning, Linden appeared on Global TV with Steve Darling and threw a little water on the rumour. Asked if the Aquilinis had approached him, he said, simply, “No”, then proceeded to talk incessantly about his fitness clubs, as his his wont.
“Right now, I’m enjoying running my clubs,” he said. “Our fitness business has been successful, we’re launching a great new concept right now. Enjoying life.”
Blah blah blah, fitness, fitness, fitness. Darling tried to steer the interview back to hockey. But seriously, Trevor, if the Canucks asked you, would you do it?
You know, Steve, I’ve always said that if the right opportunity, the right time came up, people have been asking me that for six years, “hey, you should come back or you should do this”…I’ve really enjoyed my time in the fitness business. Club 16 Trevor Linden Fitness has been very successful and we’re going to grow that brand and we’re launching Orange Theory fitness.
The only way to get Linden to talk about the Canucks may be to ask him directly about his fitness clubs.
In any case, that answer doesn’t exactly put the issue to bed. There’s still a very real possibility that Linden is approached, if he honestly hasn’t been already, and that he says yes.
And we can only pray that this doesn’t happen. Look at what’s become of Kevin Lowe in Edmonton. We want this for Trevor Linden, our one unblemished thing. Linden is all we’ve got. And we’re seriously entertaining the idea of letting him walk back into the building and potentially ruin everything? Do you really want to live in a world where Trevor Linden is despised in Vancouver everywhere he goes?
Think about Stan Smyl, with whom Linden shares the rafters. Nowadays, people think more about his involvement with the Canucks’ poor drafting than anything he did as a player.
Vancouver is hardly rational about these things. For goodness’ sake, Mark Messier, beloved the world over, is hated here.
Why is why I think, rather than Linden, Messier should be the Canucks’ new team president.
It’s perfect. If Messier fails, we haven’t sullied a legend. His legend was sullied when he arrived. And if he succeeds, steering the Canucks towards the Stanley Cup he denied them in 1994, and didn’t lead them to in 1998, 1999, or 2000, he earns redemption.
Granted, fans would be furious to hear his name. But they’re already at their boiling point. The “Fire Gillis” chant that erupted in Rogers Arena Monday night was the loudest they’ve been in years. They really can’t get any angrier. Now is the time to bring in a guy that everybody hates, and let him either absorb or assuage that anger.
It is not the time to tarnish or possibly destroy our best thing. Mark Messier for Team President.