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WWYDW: Finding a President of Hockey Operations

Francesco Aquilini addressed rumours regarding the team’s search for a President of Hockey Operations yesterday afternoon via his personal twitter account.

One wonders how a report like this gets out to multiple respected sources in the industry if Aquilini and Lombardi have never spoken, but if Aquilini says the rumours are bogus, I’ll take him at his word.

Regardless of whether or not the rumours about Dean Lombardi (or Ken Holland, for that matter,) are true, the fact that the Canucks are looking to add to their front office is no secret, and yesterday afternoon’s tweet served only to renew interest in the team’s ongoing search. Do you think the Canucks need to add a President of Hockey Operations? If so, who would you like to see in that role?

Last week I asked: What changes would you make to the Tampa Bay Lightning organization this offseason to insure they don’t suffer a similar fate next season?


This is why hockey is the best – it’s so unpredictable and regular season form means little in the playoffs. You just have to make it in and anything can happen as Columbus have shown this season.

As for Tampa, how can you even comtemplate change on this team after such a great regular season, they are so stacked. Better goaltending perhaps. More experienced coaching maybe. Real tough to pinpoint anything though.

My only thought is as Detriot and Pittsburgh have done in the past, just coast along in the regular season and try to avoid injury/fatigue by busting a gut and save some juice for what matters most, the playoffs.


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The Lightning have been to the conference finals and the cup finals in the past couple of years, and matched a regular season record this year. They got hurt and demoralized at the wrong time, nothing more. They should maybe tinker around the edges, but anyone who thinks there need to be big, fundamental changes to the Lightning is out of his mind.

Jim “Dumpster Fire” Benning:

I would make absolutely zero changes. This is simply something to learn from. TB (outside of that Van game earlier this year) has never been a big strong team that throws the body, finishes checks, and makes their opponent work for every inch of space on the ice. They’ve always won with speed and skill. Naysayers may argue that they simply aren’t built for the playoffs, but their past success in the post season says otherwise. I think they just need to use this as a reality check going forward. They just need to really up their game intensity both individually and collectively. No rash decisions whatsoever.


Tampa Bay will probably see enough changes to their line up through free agency and salary cap considerations to avoid having to do anything to drastic. I think the more pertinent issue is how any elite team goes about preparing for a playoff run and I imagine a historically bad playoff performance will change the conversation around this. Traditional hockey pundits and the players themselves won’t like the idea but it might be time for top contending teams to pull some of their stars out of the line up down the stretch. It’s as much about resting those players as it is about changing the dynamic around the team. It will also force the coaches to change up strategies on the fly. Hopefully that will ramp up the intensity and force the team to tighten up defensively.

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I agree that they shouldn’t overreact to this. They have a solid core that is all resigned with the exception of Point. The injuries to Hedman and Stralman were really big. Kucherov’s dumb suspension didn’t help. And Vasilevsky couldn’t seem to adjust to the Blue Jackets strategy of crashing the net and throwing point shots at him. He’ll be better next year.

They should invest in a better backup, and turn over some of that D–four UFAs and you don’t need to bring back Coburn, Rutta, Girardi, but replace them with Cernak and Foote. Anything can happen in a playoff series. Just like you don’t want to overplay the puck carrier on the PK, you don’t want to overthink what a series like this teaches you. Torts’ crazy collapsing, shot-blocking and yell-coaching ways can always win you one or two. Hard to see much more than that but their top players came to play. I still don’t think they can beat the Bruins, Caps or Islanders but then I thought that they’d never get by the Bolts, so who knows?

  • Fred-65

    You’d have to think it’s a slam dunk that a knowledgable person of sober reflection is badly needed. There seems to be little depth to the thinking of Vcr management who put more store on reacting to code blue than sitting down and drawing up a long term plan. The fact that Aquaman did not speak to various candidates means little, now if he were to say no one be it direct or through an intermediary spoke to Mr. Lombardi that would mean something. Aquaman is simply playing with words. Vcr badly needs a person who can provide a sober reflection. It seems to me that the current management simply put out fires. Now if we could lure John Davidson or simialr away from their current situation and getb the train back on the tracks that would be terrific not only for the club but maybe help for JB

  • ikillchicken

    Yes they should hire somebody, but no, I’m not going to offer up a specific name. In fact, I’d be happiest if, whoever they hire, I’ve never heard of them in my life. Teams tend to endlessly recycle the same executives, constantly favoring big names with ample experience and some kind of past success. If you actually look at most of their track records though, they’ve got a longer history of failure than actual success. So forget all that. Just focus on hiring somebody smart without a lot of hockey baggage who is capable of making rational, informed, business decisions based on the info they are provided.

  • Goon

    Re-hire Mike Gillis as POHO. Regardless of what you think of the job he’d do (I personally think he’d be great, but I know many around here disagree) watching the Vancouver media lose their minds would be completely and totally worth it.

    This is the same reason I want to see Gillis hired in Edmonton.

    • Fred-65

      I tend to think Gillis will look seriously at the Seattle job. In some part, Seattle will become overnight the prime adversary for the Canucks. He would like nothing better than to stick it to Canucks/Aquaman LOL. I enjoy listening to Gillis simply because within moments you realize this is one smart guy

  • Kanuckhotep

    I don’t really see why the Canucks would need a POHO now or ever. What do these guys do anyways? Fire GMs on behalf of ownership? Seems like a figure head type of position more than anything but I admit could be dead wrong on this. It doesn’t really hurt nor help to have a President of Hockey Operations. And personally don’t have anyone in mind for this unless they put in some random legend of some sort. Gillis? Smart guy but he ain’t working for FA ever again.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    How about Ralph Krueger? Despite his time with the Oilers, he is a good hockey mind. His time as Chairman of Southampton FC (English Premiership) gives him experience in perhaps the biggest sports league in the world. As a bonus, he is considered as a leadership expert in his role with the World Economic Forum. Bit of a renaissance guy. Could do worse.

    • Sharpshooter

      I agree that Krueger is the type of individual that the Canucks should be looking for in this role. The PoHO role should be one of creating organizational climate and culture, and defining a clear, concise and articulated vision for the organization, much as Shanahan has done with the Leafs, and much as a CEO does in the corporate world. Krueger has a very strong understanding of leadership philosophy and theory, as anyone who has heard him talk on the matter can attest to, and is quite forward thinking. He has done quite a good job in stabilizing Southampton, which was in financial and organizational trouble as recently as 2010, and clearly has the practical experience leading a large and diverse sporting organization. Their academy has been one of the best in England for years, which would also indicate that he may have some ideas that could be applied to player development in a hockey club, and how to transition talented youngsters into full, contributing professionals.
      If not Krueger, then another individual who has an organizational leadership background that can aid in developing the organizational big picture, allowing GMJB to focus primarily on the day-to-day GM tasks.

  • wojohowitz

    First up is why Aquilini is commenting on media speculation. If he goes down that rabbit hole he will be issuing denials a dozen times a day. So now it appears that not only the Canucks need a press agent to try and control the message but Aquilini needs one too. The most recent example is Benning getting off an airplane in Utica and within 20 minutes telling everyone that all is well but not dispelling the speculations of dysfunction. Aquilini does not want strong leadership as it undermines his authority, weakens his control and all the viable candidates know that already. The good ones don`t get manipulated so easily.

    Brooks recently wrote a column on the Rangers search for a president, what the job entails and why John Davidson is the perfect candidate considering his track record in St. Louis and Columbus.

    One interesting example is Cam Neely who started out about as experienced as Trevor Linden but has since done an excellent job. It could be a senior advisor like Harry Sinden is what Trevor needed.

  • We need a Director of Professional Scouting (DoPS) to mirror Judd Brackett rather than another POHO. According to the Canucks’ org chart, we have 17 amateur scouts plus Brackett vs. 4 professional scouts and no director. We’d be better off if we had a good DoPS who can give honest advice so we can avoid more bad trades and UFA signings.

    • One point I forgot to mention, Brett Henning was announced as a DoPS in 2017 but is listed as Pro Scout on the Canucks website and on his Linkedin page. Either they quietly “demoted” him or the position was never taken seriously to begin with.

      • rediiis

        I really like the amateur scouting department. Jonssen in Sweden is great. The professional department is awful, they have no clue. This team should be all be axed. As far as a President goes, I’d pick a girl since the job is to delegate and pander to the season ticket holders, play some golf and be personable.

  • j2daff

    I’m torn between saying we need to take as much time as it takes to find the right POHO, because this team needs to start getting it right even if that’s another year or more and saying we need to do it ASAP before Benning overpays on another contract or makes another hockey trade that hurts the future of this team.

    In all seriousness Benning may be able to continue as Canucks GM if he has a little help and a little guidance in the area’s he obviously has issues in. The right assistant GM could help negotiate better contracts (and possibly trades) as he has typically overpaid in both term and $$$. A POHO could also hold him accountable (Jim you could sign that guy for half of that or for half the term) and give him direction; Jim why don’t you get on the phone with TO and TB and see if we cannot benefit in helping them out of their cap problems. Heck even a little more vision would help, there is no way they should not have been trying most of last season to get Edler to waive his no trade clause instead of waiting until the last second. Also if the rumors are true about the owner meddling they need someone to be able to straight up say, “you hired me to run this team so let me do it or let me go.”

    All that said maybe a better GM would do the same….?

  • DogBreath

    We have traditional ‘hockey men’ in place in the Benning team. This isn’t a bad thing. A strong leadership team incorporates competing styles and views. They could use more modern, corporate, experienced, fresh thinking to balance the leadership team. This points to people like Krueger, Gillman, Shanahan types of personalities. I’d consider a Gillis type of person if he hadn’t already been there, done that.

  • Holly Wood

    How about Ron Francis. He did a very good job rebuilding the entire Carolina organization. The ECHL Florida Everblades win their division, The AHL Charlotte Checkers win their division and now the Hurricanes are making noise. If I remember correctly he was fired due to differences of opinion with the owner but his performance speaks for itself. Could be the President the organization needs to continue moving forward.