All-in on Linden, whether we like it or not
In typical Trevor Linden fashion, Vancouver’s favourite son has arrived – and not a moment too soon.
Brought back from obscurity – and a successful venture establishing gyms around the Lower Mainland – Trevor Linden’s appointment to the position of president of hockey operations comes with many responsibilities. Linden will oversee all decisions regarding the coaching, scouting, drafting, trading, and player development, essentially wielding the big and powerful rubber stamp.
That’s a lot of power, even for the man who 26 years ago began his ascent to becoming the most iconic Canucks player in franchise history.
You can call the move whatever you want to call it. Call it a move by ownership to appease unhappy season ticket holders, or a decision to boost the franchise’s tainted image in the public eye. But as the great Yoda would probably say: Sense, this makes none.
Linden, as great as he once was, has been gone from the game for six years. That’s a long time. He always kept close ties with the Canucks during that span sure, but always kept his distance. For the Canucks to pull their white knight back into the fold is a move which has as much risk as it has reward.
First, the best-case scenario: Trevor Linden picks up the ball and runs with it right away; his decisions are all golden maneuvers which helps the franchise climb out of mediocrity for the first time in three years and catapults them back into elite territory in quick and timely fashion, effectively saving the franchise from falling into the NHL’s basement like many projected would’ve been the case under the charge of Mike Gillis.
Now, the worst-case scenario: Linden’s lack of hands-on experience in an NHL front office leaves him slow to adapt, and his execution on decisions hampers the Canucks ability to rise from the ashes and Vancouver’s white knight and his image in the public eye leaves some questioning whether or not he’s fit to be the leader of this team.
Linden is not cut from the same cloth as players-turned-executives like Joe Sakic, Steve Yzerman, and Cam Neely, all of whom spent considerable time in smaller front office roles before they took on the positions of president of hockey operations and general manager. Linden is being asked to go from a backstage role to the star of the show, and those great expectations that stem from a demanding Vancouver market are stacking the odds heavily against him as a result.
That’s a ton of pressure, again for a guy who has spent zero hours in the front office department. I’m not saying it can’t be done; if Linden makes the right hire for general manager and surrounds himself with people who can help him lead the charge, perhaps Linden can get the job done.
Linden’s reputation is on the line now. The prodigal son has a lot of work ahead.
The first and biggest improvement that has already happened ( I believe and hope) is the changing of a culture where everyone hopefully can have a boss they can feel good about. I think the bee in the bonnet of the Canucks team hasn’t been coaching, hasn’t been systems, and hasn’t been lack of trading (though all factors) as much as it has been working for someone who everyone loathed. Sure, the players would never say it out loud, but how could they not? A guy gets his eye knocked out who was the heart and soul of the third line, who everyone believed in, and they couch him, bury him, then discard him..a guy, remind you, whom everyone loved and who gave up a functioning body part for the club. Obviously Lou has been beaten to death, but think about it, if you’re top paid contract is treated like THAT, stands to reason no one is safe from shabby, sordid and malevolent contract termination. It wasn’t the goalie situation that hurt the team, it was the dealings behind it. Think about it, have you ever had a boss who you despised and who mistreated you & your co-workers….if so, was that the building where you did your best work? I doubt-highly doubt- that would be the case. Gillis was an unkind, shrewd, unthinking, callous and lastly incompetent individual who promoted a cutthroat and wary hockey culture that no one wanted to play for, let alone be traded to. If nothing, nothing else, Linden will treat this Canuck squad and it’s players with the care and respect they deserve, and that alone is something the players will get up and fight for on a nightly. We ALREADY HAVE THE TALENT, and we all know it, we just need to our spirit back.
In fairness, that’s the Gillis we perceive and not necessarily the way Gillis actually rolled. No different than how we all perceived Luongo before @stromebone1 for instance – aside from talent of course.