Canucks officially hire Trevor Linden, who is a big fat liar, as Team President

The Canucks officially announced Trevor Linden as the new President of Hockey Operations Wednesday morning, confirming rumours that were swirling since Mike Gillis’s dismissal from the position the day prior.

This means that Linden lied to our faces on Tuesday. In an interview with Global TV to promote his fitness clubs, he was asked point blank if he would be the next president of hockey operations for the Canucks. He denied the rumour.

The Canucks just hired a big, fat liar to be team president.

Linden is, of course, known for things other than deceitfulness here in Vancouver. He is arguably the most beloved sports figure in Vancouver’s history, even more than Cyclone Taylor, who did actually win a Stanley Cup in Vancouver. That’s what makes this move so dangerous for Canucks fans, as Harrison pointed out.

As Harvey Dent put it, “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Linden left the Canucks a hero, with fans fondly remembering the 1994 playoff run. Even the Calgary Flames, thanks to a classy move by Jarome Iginla, stuck around to shake his hand in his final game and congratulate him on his career.

But those memories could be quickly tarnished if he can’t conjure the same success from the front office that he did as a player. Or, considering how many fans felt about Gillis in the end, he’ll have to get better results as Team President than he ever did as Team Captain.

The biggest concern is his lack of experience, which Francesco Aquilini tries to assuage by listing all of his roles that have nothing to do with running a team:

It’s my honor to officially welcome Trevor Linden home in his new role as President of Hockey Operations for the Canucks. We believe in Trevor’s leadership abilities. 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.

Thankfully, the Canucks didn’t hire Linden for the joint role that Mike Gillis held as both President and General Manager, which is the only reason I’m at all comfortable with this announcement. As long as Linden can make a sound decision on which General Manager to hire, this will be a positive move that will only smack a little of pandering, nothing worse. Linden will be able to grow into the role, particularly if they keep Laurence Gilman around as a sounding board.

If Linden is little more than a figurehead, meant to put a friendly face on the Aquilinis’ decisions, however, then we’ve got a real problem.

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26 comments

  1. Warren
    April 9, 2014

    Is it safe to point out that Trev lied because the guy’s job he was taking, had not been fired yet? #justsayin

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    • Daniel Wagner
      April 9, 2014

      Oh, of course. I’m mostly being facetious with that intro and headline.

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      • ikillchicken
        April 9, 2014

        [As Harvey Dent put it, “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.]

        Yeah, but I for one am not really worried. Linden is more Superman than Batman. Now Gillis on the other hand, there was a Batman. Specifically, Frank Miller’s Batman. Yeah, he’s brooding and sullen, and honestly downright unlikable at times. But initially, you don’t care. Because he’s radical and fresh and does all these wild and brilliant things. And you’re just like “Wow. He’s a total genius”. But then, as his body of work continues to grow, you’re like…huh. It takes some really bad turns. And then it just keeps getting worse and worse from there. And by the end, you can’t help but look back at some of the really crazy stuff, even the early stuff you thought was brilliant, and you kinda wonder, was it really? Or was this guy just a very special combination of nuts and lucky initially. And you just don’t know.You just don’t.

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        • iain
          April 10, 2014

          or, as Arthur Dent put it, “I seem to be having this terrible difficulty with my lifestyle.”

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  2. peanutflower
    April 9, 2014

    “If Linden is little more than a figurehead, meant to put a friendly face on the Aquilinis’ decisions, however, then we’ve got a real problem.” We’ve got a real problem.

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    • Brent
      April 9, 2014

      I agree, we have a real problem.

      But it depends how much support he gets. Will they hire Nicholson too? That would be cool.

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  3. Rob Robertson
    April 9, 2014

    Optimistic part of me hopes that Linden acts as a buffer between the GM and ownership.

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  4. Doop
    April 9, 2014

    Kyle Wellwood for GM.

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    • iain
      April 9, 2014

      Welly is watching the announcement on his smartphone. ‘Damn,’ he thinks, ‘that shoulda been me.’

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  5. akidd
    April 9, 2014

    it starts off well with aquilini pulling out his megaphone and carefully enunciating:

    “”Trevor will make all of the decisions on hockey-related personnel, coaches, players, free agents,” Aquilini said. “Trevor will in be charge of all hockey operations and make all the decisions.”
    Linden said he has been promised full autonomy. “I have had a great conversation with Francesco and his family and they have given me full control to make the right decisions and full autonomy….”"

    but then a little hedging:

    Obviously, in any sport organization a good working relationship with ownership is important and I intend to spend a lot of time working with them and having them fully understand the decisions we make and why, but ultimately I am very comfortable with the autonomy that I have.”

    could you repeat the “full autonomy” part again, please? and the “ALL the decisions” part. really emphasize the “All” if you can. action….

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  6. 5minutesinthebox
    April 9, 2014

    Anyone else get the feeling that this is going to get worse before it ever gets better.

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  7. Pavo
    April 9, 2014

    Now let’s get Naslund for GM and we can duplicate the Oilers’ management – sans the 6 rings ofcourse.

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    • Gadsby
      April 9, 2014

      As long as Linden doesn’t appoint Jeff Tambellini to the GM’s throne we should be fine.

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  8. DanD
    April 9, 2014

    I definitely see reasons for optimism and reasons for concern.

    Reasons for concern, as noted in other comments: Aquilini sees Linden as a figurehead that will allow him to meddle without taking so much heat.

    However, I’m still mostly optimistic. The speed of the announcement makes it pretty clear that this move has been in the works for a while, which means letting go of Mike Gillis wasn’t as much of a knee-jerk reaction as we may have thought. Linden may not very experienced, but his reputation as a leader and a smart business person is pretty solid. Although it is most definitely a good PR move, I think this setup has potential to be very beneficial to the Canucks. As long as Linden has a good working relationship with Aquilini, and is willing to tell him to butt out once in a while.

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  9. Noodle
    April 9, 2014

    I love Trevor. He’s an icon in this city.

    But I worry about this hire because he lacks experience. Is he going to just be rubber stamping Aquilini decisions? Does he have any real power and independence? Is he capable of making a good GM hire?

    I hope this ends up being a good hire, despite it’s beginning as a pandering move to the fans.

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  10. DanD
    April 9, 2014

    Not sure if my comment made it on here, since my computer froze just as I pressed send.

    I definitely see how this could get worse, but I’m actually a little more optimistic after hearing the press conference for a couple of reasons.

    1. The process to hire Linden was obviously already rolling before they let go of Mike Gillis. This makes me hopeful that at least there was some plan in place, not just a knee-jerk reaction on the part of the Aquilinis.

    2. As much as this may be a PR move, and perhaps a move by the Aquilinis to have something of a “puppet” in the office, I think Linden is a bit of a wildcard for them. He has shown in his playing days, and in his work with the NHLPA, that he is not necessarily a pushover. I think he commands enough respect that he will get a level of autonomy that Gillis may never have had.

    At least, that’s what I’m hoping. But this is the Canucks. It could all go terribly wrong.

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  11. Amor de Cosmos
    April 9, 2014

    Two of Trev’s most optimistic responses were first, that he hasn’t met John Tortorella. There’s no history there. Second that he’s going to talk to the players in depth. The veterans on the team he not only knows as team-mates, and has their trust, he also knows they’re intelligent people, as hockey players go. That’s a good base to start from. As for the rest, who knows? I’m hoping for the best and expecting the worst. This is the Canucks after all.

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  12. Cory Brandhagen
    April 9, 2014

    I believe this is the best change that the Vancouver Canucks have made in years. I have been a fan since my upbringing and was also a fan of Trevor Linden “Captain Canuck”. to be calling Linden A BIG FAT LIAR IS preposterous as he will be the best thing this hockey club has come across since Roger Nilsons white towel mark my words. There will be changes for the good and I also think that Torterella will be in the mix!

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  13. BBoone
    April 9, 2014

    Linden said he will be hands-on in all personnel decisions . Does anyone think that a dialogue with his new GM would have resulted in any of the bad trades or inability to move a player that became the biggest rap against ex GMMG ? I think we are going to get a much much better talent evaluation process going forward and that after all is job 1 in any pro sort management function .

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  14. REalist
    April 9, 2014

    The Canucks are going to give the Oilers and Islanders a run for their money as Worst Franchise in Pro Sports.

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  15. Smokey
    April 9, 2014

    Someone needs to take down the media cabal here in Vancouver. I know this article is tongue-in-cheek but the Province’s editorial to the same effect is not. Do people expect Linden to say to some random reporter “yeah, I’m gonna be the President and my introductory press conference is tomorrow”? That’s just not the way things are done. When rumours are flying ahead of the trade deadline, are the GMs liars if they don’t confirm or deny every rumour? The sporting press in Vancouver couldn’t even wait 24 hours to attack one of B.C.’s most beloved and respected citizens for no good kind of reason. How can any organization succeed in an atmosphere like this?

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    • Daniel Wagner
      April 9, 2014

      I don’t think anyone’s all that upset, particularly since his first comment in the press conference was to apologize for the deception. Probably would have been better to decline comment and, if pressed, say, “It’s not my place to comment on that situation” or similar.

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      • BBoone
        April 10, 2014

        It seems to me the Global
        Interviewer is getting a pass here . Linden is there to talk about his fitness business and she blindsides immediately with a question she knows he cannot answer truthfully
        How much more skillful to engage Linden re his fitness business then ask to comment on the new pro sports management model in operation with the Bruins and Neely the Avalanche and Sskic the Broncos and Elway and the Knicks and Jackson . What value does he see in having a separate franchise icon as president along with a separate GM ? That would have led to an excellent interview and avoided the really ill mannered initial question that was posed . Not only does the media waste their time and credibility asking questions they know can’t be answered without stirring a kit if controversy but the miss the opportunity to have a genuine conversation
        With an interesting person about a timely issue.

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  16. Mo
    April 9, 2014

    I think I heard him say he’s been friends with the aquilinis for 20 years, before they became the owners. And that mama aquilini hoped he’d be president for at least 20 years more. Being thAt comfortable with the family, you’d hope that Trevor will be able to do what he needs to. Hopefully.

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  17. Shooot
    April 10, 2014

    We all need to take a deep breath (including and ESPECIALLY the Van media) and let this play out over the next while. I don’t think it can get any worse than the last 2 years, and the Goalie situation – badly bungled. I wish Trevor the best, and I hope he can take us to better outcomes than the last 3 years. It may take us a while, MG didn’t draft well so the kids coming up provide very little depth. But the move today makes me hope that we’ve turned a corner.
    I sincerely wish TL the best of luck!

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  18. Ed
    April 10, 2014

    I don’t think a lack of experience is going to hurt Linden and the Canucks. Just like any other business, the “President” is really just a fancy title for someone who spends most of his/her time networking, recruiting top talent and evaluating everything.

    It’s really the GM, coach, scouts and other lower level “foot soldiers” who are going to make the biggest impact on the team. As long as Linden hires the right people and there aren’t any power struggles and all that kinda jazz, then Linden is going to do OK — even as a rookie.

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