Ticket Drive: Trevor Linden’s Press Conference

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The Vancouver Canucks formally announced that they’d be bringing in one of the most beloved player’s in the franchise’s history to help play a part in putting together what’s suddenly a broken organization. 

In doing so they held a press conference with Trevor Linden and Francesco Aquilini fielding some questions from the media members in attendance. While we didn’t exactly learn much more than we already knew heading in, unsurprisingly, there were a few things brought up which are worth expanding on.

And so we will, pivoting off of the choice quotes conveniently transcribed by Thomas Drance. We’d now like to take the opportunity to thank him for his years of service.

If you’d like to watch the presser for yourself, it’s available online right here (it doesn’t actually start until about the 22 minute mark, roughly). Let’s dive in on Linden’s thoughts regarding a multitude of different topics..

Francesco Aquilini

The owner himself didn’t speak much, which is probably for the better. This isn’t meant as a roast of Aquilini (who will read your work and aggressively text you about it), but it’s difficult not to have some fun at his expense when he starts off the presser by needing to robotically read “our goal is to win the Stanley Cup” off of a prepared script, before proceeding to start nearly every answer afterwards with the crutch of thanking Mike Gillis for his years of service. When we got past that, he had the following to say —

On autonomy:

“Yes Trevor will make all of the decisions on hockey related personnel – players, coaches, free-agents. Trevor will be in charge of all hockey operations and make all the decisions”

Linden quickly jumped in and said that he has had “great conversations with Francesco and his family” and that “they’ve given full control to make the right decisions and full autonomy. Obviously a good working relationship with ownership is important, so I intend to spend time working with them, having them understand the decisions we make and why, but I’m fully comfortable with the autonomy that I’ll have.”

Eat your heart out, Gilly.

On the new corporate structure:

“Trevor is the new president of hockey operations. Victor runs the business side and they’ll be working together in tandem”

To this, Linden said that he hopes to assist Victor (DeBonis) where he can, but that his “core responsibility will be on the hockey side.” He went ahead to say that he’s fully committed to what he’s doing with the Canucks, that it’s “more than a full-time job”, and that he’d as result take a step back from his other business ventures.

On the real reason for the timing of this move:

“We’re selling tickets, we’re going to extend the deadline. A notice will be sent out today. Season ticket holders will get a chance to review what has happened and listen to Trevor’s plan and what he’s got in store for the future and how he’s going to create a winning environment here.”

Yup, basically a glorified ticket drive.

Trevor Linden 

Linden, on the other hand, was on the other end of the spectrum. As you would’ve expected, he came off fairly charming, quick-witted, and willing to approach this task in the right way. While I’d ask the people that are saying “he nailed it!” to settle down a little bit, I think he handled himself as effectively as we could’ve hoped for given the circumstances. You can’t really expect some 20 minute introductory press conference to be an enlightening revelation, so with that in mind, it was just fine for now.

On yesterday’s Global TV appearance:

“I called Steve this morning and apologized for being put in a situation that was very uncomfortable.. It was an impossible situation to be in, and out of respect for the process and for Mike and his family, I had to do what I did.”

On how long this has been in the works:

“Y’know, I’ve known the Aquilini family for many, many years even before they owned the team. Francesco and I would speak many times about business, development, hockey. Coming back to the organization was always somewhat talked about. It was just very recently that things really went to the next level and here we are today.”

On the timing of getting back into hockey:

“You don’t play 20 years in the NHL, spend your life in hockey and not have it in your DNA. I always thought I’d be back. I never wanted to work for another organization. I’m a sports fan, I follow this team closely, having this opportunity at my age – I’m only 43 – is a great challenge. I made it pretty clear when I left that I wanted to take a couple of years and figure out who I was. When you’re so committed to something for so long it’s kind of nice to see what else is out there. I got into businesses I enver thought I’d get into, I enjoyed that, and they were successful. I enjoyed the flexibility of having time to do things. So it was largely due to me. Then having said that guys are doing there things. I purposely sort of stayed out of the way. And that’s how I wanted it…

On #thebrand:

“Anytime a team doesn’t succeed or misses the playoffs people aren’t happy. Fans aren’t happy, players aren’t happy.”

On how having played with some of the players still on the team will affect things:

“I have a great deal of respect for the guys I played with, all the guys in that room, but certainly the guys I played with. We’ll have to assess the best path for this organization. Y’know, I think my six years away I was a fan and kept in touch and watched the game. But I was away, I wasn’t around much, so there’s a bit of a separation there.”

On being relatively inexperienced:

“My experience comes from playing, no question, I look at some of my colleagues whether it be Joe Sakic or Steve Yzerman or Cam Neely – who I spoke to in the last few days – I think it’s one of those things where you need to surround yourself with good people. It’s about building a team both on and off the ice. I have a lot of respect for a lot of people in this organization. Obviously there will be some changes, but I intend to surround myself with good, thoughtful, independent people and that’s how I’ll make the right decisions (beat) that’s how the organization will make the right decisions.”

On the GM search:

“That’s a process that I have to thoroughly evaluate, it’s already begun, but we’ll do a general manager search from within and from outside of our organization.”

Obviously the part I’ve gone ahead and bolded garnered the most attention, as those particular words would likely indicate that Assistant GM Laurence Gilman will be given a long, hard look as a potential candidate. While it’s impossible to know just how much of a role he has played during the Gillis regime, we suspect that he’s the person we can attribute all of the cap magic too, making him someone I’m sure people would be OK with. 

When pressed further on the subject of finding a new GM, Linden had the following to say:

“I’m not really comfortable with that (answering specifics) but I have a profile, for not only the manager but what I want that team to look like. Whether it’s GM, AGM and on. But definitely have a specific profile and that will be, as we speak, working on a plan to put that in motion. That’s one of those things where gaining permission to speak to certain people can be a challenge, and so, that’s what will affect the timing. But when I make the decision I’ll be able to speak more freely about the profile that I’m looking for.”

He went on to say that he hoped there would be someone in play by mid-June, preferably even the start of June, in time to run the upcoming draft. As I said in the post following Gillis’ firing, this’ll be a long, drawn out process so buckle up. At least we’ll get to run an exhaustive GM profile series.

Which brings us to the head coach, and his thoughts on Torts:

“I met John for the first time this morning, so I come into it with a fresh set of eyes. Obivously I understand the challenges with coaching, I’ve been a player for 20 years, I look forward to sitting down with the players and understanding the ins and outs of the issues. Those decisions will be made down the road, a critical path is assessing a general manager and the structure of our operations – be it on the pro of amateur side – and any sort of coaching decision will be made in due time after thorough evaluation.”

On the style he envisions the Canucks playing:

“I come from the school that fundamental, sound hockey is winning hockey. I’ve been a big believer in that – playing well defensive, smart, position hockey doesn’t compromise your offensive. I don’t know that I buy into this is an offensive team or that’s a defensive team, I more subscribe to the fact that winning hockey is fundamentally sound hockey. There’s only one way to play and that’s “the right way” – you don’t sacrifice offense by being in good sound defensive position. I need to get more into this with the coaching staff here, obviously understand the players, and fully assess the situation.”

Say what you will about that answer, but at least it was a tad bit more inspiring than Francesco’s addition of “there’s the right way, there’s the wrong way, there’s so many different ways.” In fairness I guess that’s all technically true..

Jason Botchford went on to full up that answer with a question as to whether Linden had an idea of why the Canucks have underperformed the way they have this season, and he simply answered “I do, but I don’t think the time is right to get into it. Until I gather all that information I’m going to reserve comment.” But apparently he hasn’t formed those opinions thanks to our work at this platform, based on his comments on advanced stats later on.

After the answer about “style”, there was some speculation on Twitter that this may’ve been some sort of endorsement for John Tortorella, but.. no, it really actually wasn’t. Don’t be surprised if we find ourselves going through another couple of these bad boys in the coming months..

  • Graphic Comments

    Always been a hug fan of Trevor Linden, as every Canucks fan should be, and I’ve only the highest hopes for his tenure. As a fan living in Colorado it has been refreshing to see what past players can achieve – both at a coaching and management level.

  • GarthButchers

    “Aquilini: “Mike hired Tortarella and I’m responsible for that and that’s why we have a change in direction today”.

    Why is Aquillini suggesting that Gillis hired Tortorella when we have it on the authority of “insiders” that ownership meddling is the reason Tortorella is on the payroll for the next 4 years?

    And why is he starting a libel suit against alleged “insiders”?

    Is it possible that those rumors were baseless from the start or, at the least, should never have been taken as gospel?

      • andyg

        Yes that’s one of his quotes.

        Of course, his comments may very well be as self serving as Gillis’ last interview in Vancouver.

        It’s almost as though none of these guys should be trusted including the insiders named in the libel suit…

    • argoleas

      I do appreciate what he is saying, but quite frankly, I’m suspicious. Gillis looks like a guy who did not mesh with Torts, and that seemed to me to be the case from day one. But I dont see why the owner would be lying.

      So this could be a case of he said, he said.

      • JCDavies

        Absolutely it’s he said, he said.

        It’s simply irresponsible to take the rumor-as-fact.

        Aquillini may very well be #1 on the meddling owner power rankings.

        But he may also be #30.

        We should be open to the possibility of either scenario.

        • argoleas

          In either case, either the owner wanted Torts here over in spite of MG, and now is covering is a$$, or MG wanted him here, and owner is further disassociating himself with that decision. Looks like Torts may be toast.

          One factor that we all considered at the start of the season that during the Torts hiring there may have been a discussion about trying to do the best with the roster for a year. In that measure, Torts playing his top players to the ground makes sense, and by end of December that made sense. It of course blew up after that, but the point here is that this is one feature that may work in Torts favor, in that he can say that the approach was agreed upon by committee, and that he himself would be more in favor of a more balanced approach. I say that because in the discussions with Linden and a future GM, that may be one factor that he can point to them to justify them keeping him longer, like AV and even Keenan. This is one reason I would say that Torts dismissal is not foreordained

          • JCDavies

            I’m not as anti-Torts as some others on here.

            There are a couple of things I can do without. Other than that, whatever, it’s a middle manager during a period of rebuilding.

            If he is back, I can’t imagine he would run his top players into the ground again.

          • argoleas

            Neither do I. It always struck me more of a tactical approach to try to succeed this year than anything else. I think it was clear that his mandate was to try his best with the core, and put player development on the back burner.

            I think in fact that he will have at least another year here, because Linden’s and a GM’s mandate for now will (should) be to get younger, and I dont see Torts having an issue with that. All things being equal, I dont see him being the guy that says “FU I will play the Sedins 25 min, just because.” Well, I definitely see him saying “FU”, but with other things.

            But all of this depends on many other factors that are in flux right now.

          • JCDavies

            Sums up my feelings as well.

            I don’t think Torts is wrong that there were serious depth issues and that it probably related to being so top heavy with the minutes.

            I think we knew that going into the season.

            As you say, I don’t think he’s going to play the Sedins 25 mins a game just for the sake of it.

            I interpret him to be adaptable more so than for which he is given credit…

          • argoleas

            I think he is definitely not wrong on the depth question. The only way Vancouver can plug that hole is via player development. Many complain about this team being boring and bad, but few were saying that in December. The plan for the season was tried and it failed. But that was the plan, and I was okay with having given a try then. Now its on to plan B, which is development. I believe the owner is good with that, and I believe that will be Linden’s vision, and I dont actually see Torts being a coach that will stand in the way of that. I think his work with Kassian has been very appropriate this year, and the overall patience with Jensen was also appropriate.

            I do wonder what the plan will be with Santorelli. Assuming Kesler either stays or is traded for a younger 2nd line center, and with Richardson and Matthias back, and with Kassian, Jensen, and Burrows manning the right wing, I dont see a spot for him anymore. His record for last year, before the injury, was quite good, and he will ask for a contract that Vancouver will not be able to afford.

  • JCDavies

    I wasn’t aware that Aquillini had won the libel suit…

    Why did he wait until the situation turned ugly before filing the suit? Why didn’t he file the suit last year when the statements reportedly first appeared?

    Is it possible that Aquilini’s comments shouldn’t be taken as gospel?

    • JCDavies

      “I wasn’t aware that Aquillini had won the libel suit”


      “Why did he wait until the situation turned ugly before filing the suit? Why didn’t he file the suit last year when the statements reportedly first appeared?”

      Do you actually know who is named in the suit and do you have the dates when these allegedly libellous reports first became public…

      “Is it possible that Aquilini’s comments shouldn’t be taken as gospel?”

      I was not aware that a single person has taken Aquillini’s comments as gospel.

      Please share if you know of such a person…

      • JCDavies

        “Is it possible that those rumors were baseless from the start or, at the least, should never have been taken as gospel?”

        “Is it possible that Aquilini’s comments shouldn’t be taken as gospel?”

        “I was not aware that a single person has taken Aquillini’s comments as gospel.
        Please share if you know of such a person…”


      • JCDavies

        “Do you actually know who is named in the suit and do you have the dates when these allegedly libellous reports first became public…”

        The Globe & Mail responded to the suit today in writing and I’m pretty certain I saw the name of the Postmedia reporter, so if you’re looking for names I’m pretty sure you can find them if you look for them. I don’t think it’s my place to post their names here.

        • argoleas

          “Why didn’t he file the suit last year when the statements reportedly first appeared?”

          “The Globe & Mail responded to the suit today in writing and I’m pretty certain I saw the name of the Postmedia reporter, so if you’re looking for names I’m pretty sure you can find them if you look for them. I don’t think it’s my place to post their names here.”

          If you’re going to make the claim that the statements reportedly first appeared last year, I think it’s reasonable to expect you to provide, at minimum, the names/dates associated with these reports from last year and its relevance to this recent legal action…

          By the way, is there a purpose to the 3 quotes you pasted in your previous post?

          It is a non sequitur if the implication is that I am taking Aquillini at his word.

          Even though he is well within his rights to challenge irresponsible reporting if he deems it necessary.

          My initial claim, which is to what my first post in this thread refers, is that it is inconsistent to take one stance on “insiders” in reference to Kesler trade rumours and do a 180 and simply run with ownership meddling rumors-as-fact shortly thereafter…

          • JCDavies

            You provide no evidence of anybody doing this:

            “Is it possible that those rumors were baseless from the start or, at the least, should never have been taken as gospel?”

            But expect proof of someone doing this:

            “Is it possible that Aquilini’s comments shouldn’t be taken as gospel?”


            By the way, the ellipses in the previous quote were meant to indicate speechlessness.

  • orcasfan

    I’m skeptical about this hire due to his utter lack of experience, but I’m hopeful and optimistic. Mostly because I don’t want to see our franchise icon fail and have the memories tarnished. I hope this turns out to be a good hire.

    Also, I’d like to formerly declare myself as #TeamGilman for GM.

  • JCDavies

    Over the past 2 or 3 seasons Canucks fans had turned on Mike Gilles and started jumping off the bandwagon, rogers area is appearing more and more empty, and season ticket sales have taken a nose dive. What better way to keep the die-hard fans happy and bring the fair-weather fans back on-board than hire the Canucks favorite son to be the face of the franchise? This reeks of season-ticket selling desperation.

  • orcasfan

    You know what my biggest concern is? The same concern when they hired Torts. Neither Linden nor Torts know what these advanced stats are. That’s a huge concern.

    Someone better get him up to speed asap.

  • orcasfan

    I loved Linden as a player, he seems like a great guy and I respected his work with the PA. But I’m nervous that he gets this kind of control over hockey operations – if our last experience with an unseasoned gm ended the way it did why should we feel more confident now? What’s the timeline on hiring a new actual gm? The draft isn’t that far away. Yzerman and Roy both had extensive organizational experience Linden has none

    Still very glad that Gillis is gone even if the Aquilinis are idiots and the timing is dumb

    • orcasfan

      Unless I’m overlooking a candidate, I’m thinking I’d prefer the next guy to be a first time general manager as long as he has front office experience.

      Not that I really know enough about his background, but the optics of Feaster & Tortorella next year would be terrible even if they are the best duo for the jobs…

      • argoleas

        I agree with both — Feaster was an unmitigated disaster in Calgary and it would be a serious problem (especially given the roster we have on the books for next year) to have him and Tortorella running the show. I’m in TB for work and went to the game against the Leafs last night and am going to the one against Philly tomorrow and walking around the Tampa Bay Times Forum they have pictures up of all the players from the Stanley Cup winning team in 2004. It’s an interesting assortment of guys but you have a pretty impressive mix of young guys in their prime (Richards, St. Louis, Lecavalier) and old warhorses like Andreychuk and a Khabibulin who really was a wall back then. I have zero idea of how Feaster put them together or how Tortorella coached them but the landscape of the two eras is so different and the roster restrictions we have are so significant that I can’t see how anyone except the most delusional would think that it’s a good idea to pair them back up for the job here.

        One of the assistant GMs who’s supposed to be an up-and-comer (Nashville, Pittsburgh, Boston) should be a good choice. But would any want to step into this mess? And be on the hook for an immediate turnaround to get a good draft in order? The Aquilinis don’t seem to be (well not right now at least) the most patient, if empty seats and angry chants are any indication.

        • argoleas

          It may very well be wishful thinking…

          But I hope ownership is patient if the new GM is making the correct moves even if it doesn’t translate into the W-L record immediately.

          Unless we end up with 1-2 star level players via the draft or the next GM pulls a Jim Nill style reset and acquires someone like Seguin, it may very well take 4-5 years or more to get this team back up to contender status.

          I suspect the new GM may very well not be the GM of the next contending Canucks team which is unfortunate.

          Enjoy Tbay…

          • JCDavies

            Actually the Nill comment makes me think that my real wishful thinking is that we can somehow get the same kind of idiotic thinking that went into trading Seguin because he was 21 and liked to party to work for us and get Winnipeg to give us Kane for a few middling prospects and an often injured scoring forward. Though I doubt Kesler would waive his NTC to go to the Peg.

      • JCDavies

        Yes, mid-June, hopefully before the draft. Do you feel like that’s enough time (given that it’s mid-April) to bring someone new in?

        Thank you for so helpfully pointing out my flaw. How helpful you are.

  • JCDavies

    I believe that if Torts was placed into the coaching position despite the objections of Gillis that this wouldn’t have taken so long, because Gillis would have quit. If he sat there while this coach, that’s as shoved down his throat, destroyed his team and accepted the firing willingly…..then he is a spineless coward and has no place as a GM. Gillis may just be a glorified Agent, but most guys in his position are proud and wouldn’t take the blame for the Titanic out of loyalty to Frankie A! Usually the most rational explanation is the correct one and that is that gillis chose torts and Torts sucked.

    Now Trev coming back is a great story, but is it wall paper to hide the holes in the wall. Comparing himself to Stevie Y might be premature, but the guy was a leader in the NHl and was a business man. He knows hockey and hockey players, so that is a plus. For those of you out there that are worried about “advanced stats” they can hire a hundred nerds and give them all the stats in the world. Sometimes nothing takes the place of experience.

    What happens to Torts will say a lot. If tree fires him! then yes he has control, if Torts gets retained and Feaster is a GM…..l then get ready for the muppet show!

    • JCDavies

      I dont think Trevor firing Tortorella would mean he has control.

      If Trevor hires the GM and the GM wants to keep him, Trevor is still in control. I think the problem comes when he does not agree with a GM — who makes the call then? Will Trevor still remain after another GM change? It sounds like he will be around. Trevor is a PR move but he is the face of the franchise from the 94 run.. the prodigal son.

      Love the hiring of Trevor.. I think the most important part is that we bring fresh ideas to our team. Gillis did bring some new ideas and I think Trevor will do that if he hires a young GM with good ideas (i.e. Jarmo Kekalainen with CBJ — he was an assistant GM with St. Louis that brought Oshie, Backes, etc) and great interpersonal / negotiation skills.

      Hell.. why not have Gilman as GM and Trevor call the shots?

      But seriously I would prefer another team’s assistant GM (preferably Blackhawks, Kings and/or Blues management). Those guys will undoubtedly have a better read for our conference and/or division. Maybe from a country that the Canucks are not familiar with so that we multiply in our hockey knowledge and improve our player recruitment.

  • Chungus

    I wish people would quit bringing up the success of former players in management positions. It’s just as easy to bring up the failure of former players.

    It just reeks of desperation for hope. These are all independent variables, people, the success or failure of former players have nothing to do with how Linden will do in this job.

    I’ll consider it a plus if Linden does well, but for now, it reeks of cynicism and desperate on the part of Aquillini.

    Vancouver fans are delusional, by-and-large. I hope Linden does well, but I’m not necessarily optimistic that he will…

  • orcasfan

    This is exactly what the Canucks needed…a guy that has been out of hockey completely for the past 6 years…but at least has experience leading a team to where they want to end up…afterall it seems like the Canucks franchise is continually satisfied with getting close to the cup but not winning it. Looks like Linden will fit in just fine in Vancouver.

  • JCDavies

    “If you’re going to make the claim that the statements reportedly first appeared last year, I think it’s reasonable to expect you to provide, at minimum, the names/dates associated with these reports from last year and its relevance to this recent legal action…”

    For someone who uses “reportedly” a lot and rarely provides the “minimum” that can be reasonably expected, I’m surprised at this challenge…

    My comment was referencing this statement from Botchford:

    “Reports the Aquilinis were “heavily involved” in the hiring process date back to before Tortorella got the job in late June. Those who wrote about the Aquilinis involvement did not start hearing from the owners until the season spun out into a disaster.”


  • JCDavies

    ” Mike hired him and I supported him and so I take full responsibility and that’s why we have a change in direction today”.

    What the heck is he trying to say? Mike hired Torts, I agreed with his choice, I am taking full responsibility for hiring Torts so I fired Mike. Reads like Torts was the wrong guy so he fired Mike for hiring him even though he agreed with Mike at the time. Not exactly an endorsement of Torts.

    Jody always brightens up a presser.