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.