There likely weren’t many out there who saw yesterday’s announcement from the Canucks parting ways with Team President Trevor Linden and thought “well I saw this coming a mile away”. As we start to learn more about the how and why this all happened, the story coming from the team and the man himself doesn’t seem to jive with rumblings under the surface. Apparently some knew this might be coming, but overall it was kept quiet, which is a rarity these days.
Brian Burke: "I wasn't surprised, as I'd heard some rumblings about this last week. I went fishing last week and bumped into a Canucks employee who mentioned this might be happening. But it's still a shock. You think about the Canucks and two names come to mind: Smyl and Linden."— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) July 26, 2018
I don’t doubt that Trev wanted to spend more time with his family, and I am not going to begrudge him for that. And while both sides are calling the split ‘amicable’, news about Linden’s desire to push the team in a direction that ownership didn’t agree with at all, combined with Francesco Aqualini’s tweets yesterday seem to paint a picture that makes a little more sense. This tweet in particular stands out:
9/12. A rebuild is a long, slow, gradual process. Everybody needs to be united behind the same vision and pulling in the same direction.— Francesco Aquilini (@fr_aquilini) July 25, 2018
In hindsight, we should have seen this coming. Trev and Jim Benning were often not on the same page when talking about the team, and when the Canucks gave Benning an extension, that surely sent a message to Linden that ownership believes in Benning’s vision for the future. And while Benning is taking over Linden’s role, he will be reporting directly to ownership. And that means the Aqualinis, who want more than anything for the Canucks to return to the glory days of just a few years ago, will be pushing that this team is close to making the playoffs.
One interesting thing to see as time passes is how his tenure as President affects the way he is viewed after all this. Next to Pat Quinn or the Sedins, there isn’t another member of this franchise as revered by the fan base as Trev is. Certainly his standing has taken a hit by fans frustrated by watching a team that won 15 playoff games in 2011 go down the toilet as drastically as they have. Was he unqualified for the job? It’s easy for some to say that, though it could be countered with his years in a leadership role with the NHLPA.
At the end of the day, whether he was truly trying to steer the team in a direction that was going to work, or was out of his depth in this role shouldn’t take away from what he has meant to this franchise. His number hangs in the rafters for a reason. But if you think that the removal of a guy who seems to have been the voice of reason in a room trying to plot a direction of a team that lacks one is going to result in anything but more of the same, I have some bad news for you...
And to think that yesterday was already a fairly significant day news-wise for the Canucks, as they announced that they had come to terms with Jake Virtanen. It seems like a fairly good deal from the Canucks’ standpoint. $1.25 Million AAV over two years is a good price for the role he’s in now, and knowing that this gives him the opportunity to prove he is the player they thought they were getting, and earn a better deal when this one is done should see Virtanen address the inconsistencies in his game that have kept him from breaking the top 9. Ultimately, Jake needs to be more ‘on’ than he’s been. He has the physical makeup to be an effective power forward, has made improvements in his skating, and has shown at times he can drive to the net with authority. What he can’t do is take a night off. For a team that has struggled embarrassingly to score over the last couple seasons, getting 4th line production would help tremendously (and benefit him personally as consistency could see him get more ice time from Travis Green). Another thing that might help? Getting a look on one of the power play units. With the Sedins no longer a constant on the PP, there are some opportunities, and a guy like Virtanen as a net front presence has a certain appeal.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Super happy for Dan Hamhuis, who signed a 2 year deal with Nashville yesterday.
Hammer’s one of the truly good guys in this game we all love, and while his tenure in Vancouver ended rather awkwardly, I am thrilled to see him finish a pretty decent career in the only place that loves him more than Vancouver... Monday July 30th is the date that sure thing HOF’er Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla will officially announce his retirement from hockey. While he was a bastard to play against, he was truly one of the best of the era, both with the Flames and numerous times representing Canada on the world stage. I was fortunate enough to see him play a lot in Kamloops during his time with the Blazers and it’s no shock he had the kind of impact on the teams he played for. A stick-tap for one of the game’s greats... Minnesota locked up RFA Jason Zucker with a 5 year, $27.5 Million deal...