Trevor Linden hired by Canucks as president of hockey operations
Linden will hire next general manager
Former Vancouver Canucks captain Trevor Linden was encharged on Wednesday with getting the NHL club back on track after a season that went off the rails.
Linden was hired as the club's new president of hockey operations, less than 24 hours after Mike Gillis was fired.
"We believe in Trevor's leadership abilities," Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini said in a statement. "His 20 years of NHL experience including seven as team captain, his role as NHLPA President, community leader and businessman offers a very special skill set; one that will positively shape the direction of this club in the future.”
Linden, who turns 44 on Friday, will be in charge of all aspects of hockey operations.
"I'm young, I'm passionate about this team and I want to win, just like the Canuck fans do," he said.
Linden said that while he needed some time since retiring as a player six years ago to get away from the rink and explore new opportunities, he always hoped to get back into the game at some point.
"You don't spend 20 years in the National Hockey League and spend your whole life in hockey and not have it in your DNA," he said.
Gillis was fired on Tuesday after six years at the helm, and just three seasons removed of a Stanley Cup Final appearance for the Canucks. But Vancouver on Monday was officially eliminated from the playoffs for the first time in six seasons, and decisions made regarding coaching and goaltending over the past 12 months increasingly came under scrutiny.
Linden said at his introductory press conference that he will consider internal and external candidates for the club's general manager post.
Linden said he spoke with first-year coach John Tortorella on Wednesday morning, plans to meet with several players, and that any decision about coaching will be made after evaluations after done once the regular season ends.
There has been much talk surrounding the Canucks this season on their style of play. Gillis was unique among NHL general managers in publicly asserting that a team should entertain while winning, and Vancouver led the league in goals scored just two seasons ago.
Injuries and a lack of depth have contributed to a decline in production. Vancouver was ninth in goals last season, and a lowly 28th currently.
Tortorella's teams have traditionally been known for a grinding, shot-blocking style.
"I don't know if I buy into this is an 'offensive team' or 'defensive team,' I think I more subscribe to [the view] winning hockey is fundamentally sound hockey," said Linden.
He apologized for denying to a reporter that he was being considered for the president's job on Tuesday, saying the interview came at an awkward point during the process of joining the club's front office, as the removal of Gillis wasn't yet public knowledge.
Selected second overall in the 1988 NHL draft, Linden holds the franchise marks in games played (1,140) and assists (415) and second in goals (318) and points (733) in franchise history.
He scored 12 goals and 13 assists in 24 playoff games in 1994 as the Canucks endured the first of two painful seven-game Stanley Cup Final defeats in franchise history.
Overall, the the Medicine Hat, Alta., native scored 375 goals and added 492 assists for 867 points in 1,382 career NHL games, with stints also with the New York Islanders, Washington and Montreal.
During his career, which lasted from 1988 and 2008, he was actively involved with the NHL Players' Association.
He stayed in Vancouver after retiring, and has been involved in running a chain of health clubs.
When asked about his lack of NHL front office experience, Linden pointed to former players such as Steve Yzerman (Tampa Bay), Joe Sakic (Colorado) and Cam Neely (Boston), who've all moved to senior hockey operations positions.
"I think it's one of these things where you need to surround yourself with good people and ultimately this is about building a team," he added.
For his part, owner Aquilini wouldn't publicly criticize Gillis.
The owner simply said it was time for a change and a "new voice."
No details were given on Linden's pay or contract length.