‘This could be the year’: Recapping Canucks’ Aquilini and Rutherford’s press conference
1 month ago
As we expected, today, the Vancouver Canucks announced a contract extension for President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford. Reports emerged early Friday morning that the Canucks’ “important media conference” was to announce the new contract.
Sure enough, shortly after 11 AM Pacific, Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini and Rutherford met with the media at Rogers Arena to announce a three-year extension for Rutherford.
Both men opened the press conference with a statement, starting with Francesco Aquilini. Here are some highlights from those opening statements.
“From revamping the hockey operations completely, bringing in Patrik Allvin as the general manager, securing Rick [Tocchet] and his coaching staff, Jim has fostered a culture of accountability and performance,” Aquilini said. “Today, we sit here in first overall in the league, and we have five players and our coach going to the All-Star Game.
“There’s still a lot of hockey to be played, but it’s fun to be a Vancouver Canuck fan and it’s fun to be a Vancouver Canuck player again. Jim’s vision, his relentless desire to improve this club, has put us on the right track.
“There’s still a lot of hockey to be played, but it’s fun to be a Vancouver Canuck fan, and it’s fun to be a Vancouver Canuck player again. Jim’s vision and his relentless desire to improve this club has put on the right track. So on behalf of my family, it’s my pleasure to announce a three-year extension for Jim Rutherford as the President of Hockey Operations.”
“I’m looking forward to the future here with the Canucks,” said Rutherford. “We’ve made some progress but we still have a ways to go. It’s really important to thank the players, because they’ve bought into the plan, they’ve bought into the system, they’ve been dedicated, they’ve worked at it, they’ve stuck to it.
“When I first came here, one of the things I said is, ‘I think we have some players that are probably better than people think.’ And now, this has come to light. We’re in a year now where we have a good system and the players that are the impact players are even more impactful than they’ve ever been in their careers here in Vancouver.
“I want to thank the fans of the Vancouver Canucks. They’re very dedicated, they’re very knowledgeable, and it’s really been fun for me over these last couple of years out in public being able to talk to these people and get an understanding of their frustrations and what they’re hoping for and we all have the same goal. And we’re gonna continue to work towards that goal, and like I said, we’re not there yet, even though we’ve made progress. Progress with the team with the big team, progress down in Abbotsford, progress with our prospects, we have more prospects coming now that we really like. So we sit in a good place, but as I said, we’ve still got work to do.”
Following their opening statements, Rutherford and Aquilini fielded questions from the assembled media.
Q (to JR): You talked about the team identity that’s been developed here, how careful do you have to be when you look to potentially improve this group at the trade deadline? Understanding that dynamic that you’ve built here, that you make the right changes and bring in the right people.
Rutherford: Well, you can make the right changes and it can still not work, so there’s risk in that. But there’s also risk in not trying to improve the team when you get to a certain level. And I’ve seen that with teams where you say ‘wow, that team’s pretty good,’ and then they don’t do anything. So that’s what we’ve talked about for a month now within our hockey operations, trying to decide what we want to do. But Patrik has said this, and this is what we say in meetings: This group of players and coaches deserve the best opportunity they can to compete going forward as we talk about every day, we have to make a decision.
Q (to FA): You mentioned success, you had some success early on in your tenure as owner. How do things now compare to what the vibe was like back then?
Aquilini: It’s different. I think the 2010-2011 team, it was a different time. I think this is very similar, I think we’re on pace to win the President’s Trophy, who knows? Those teams won back to back President’s Trophies. I think, in terms of on-ice performance, I think that both teams are great. We don’t know how the season is going to end up, but I think it’s something we can be excited about. In 2010-11, there was a real buzz around the city about how the team was doing. I remember going to the Southern California trips… there were more Canucks fans in the building than there were home fans, and I think we’re starting to get there.
Q (to JR): Since it’s only 11:18 today, I’m guessing you haven’t been asked today about Elias Pettersson, I know the Pats are talking and for now he’s still waiting. As an organization, how long can you wait?
Rutherford: My son asked me at 7 o’clock this morning, just for the record, because he asks me almost every morning, just like everyone else wants to know. Look, we can wait, but I’ll say the obvious, we keep saying it over and over. We really want him to stay. He’s a very special player, he’s very important the Canucks, he’s very important to the city, and he can’t walk at the end of the season. And that’s the position that we’ve taken very comfortably. And so there’s not anybody getting anxious here. Come the offseason, things will be a lot more serious if in fact the situation gets to that point.
Aquilini decided to jump in to offer what he called the “ownership perspective”: I’d just like to add from an ownership perspective that we really want Elias to stay. We’re hoping that Jim can coemt o a conclusion with the agent and Elias, and ultimately can get it done.
Q (to FA): Francesco, you touched on it earlier that it feels like the buzz is coming back to town here, just anecdotically, what was that meant to you and your family?
Aquilini: It means a lot. I mean, we’ve been waiting for this for a long time. It’s starting the excitement again. I mean, as owners, you always want to be the owner that brings the Cup to the city. That’s really every owner’s ultimate dream, and that pursuit, that pursuit of the Stanley Cup, that’s what it’s ultimately all about. As a family, we’re committed to it. We’re going to do whatever we have to do, we’re committed to it. We spend to the salary cap, provide all the support, and you know, my job is to support Jim — whatever he needs. It’s exciting. You can see it with the fans in the building, the players are excited, and this could be the year, who knows?
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