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..
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 —
“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.
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.
“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…
“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..