Trevor Linden has a lot to do. Today at a press conference announcing his new role as the Vancouver Canucks’ president of hockey operations, he said he probably wouldn’t be home much in the next little while.
Indeed, he has quite the mess to clean up, with patience in short supply among a frustrated fan base that pays some of the highest ticket prices in the NHL.
Linden — the former team captain, and perhaps the most popular figure in franchise history — will meet with the players and coaching staff next week, after the Canucks’ regular season is over. There will be no playoffs for the first time since 2008 in Vancouver.
Linden said he’d like to hire a new general manager, to replace the fired Mike Gillis, by mid-June at the latest, and preferably the beginning of that month. The draft is at the end of the June.
It’s not clear if head coach John Tortorella will still be with the club at that time. Linden, according to owner Francesco Aquilini, has the authority to make all hockey-related decisions. If that’s the case, Linden could fire Tortorella right now. Or, he could wait until the end of the season. Or, he could wait until he hires a GM and the decision could be made in tandem on the current coach’s future.
“Any sort of coaching decision will be made in due time after thorough evaluation,” Linden said, leaving the timeline fairly open.
Meanwhile, Aquilini told reporters that the deadline to renew season tickets has been extended in order to give fans time to decide if they like the organization’s new direction. Which begs the question — if you were a waffling season-ticket holder, wouldn’t you want to know if Tortorella will be back before you make the call to renew?
The consensus — at least among the media — is that Tortorella will not be back. That said, he’s still owed a lot of money on his contract, and it was less than a year ago that ownership liked him plenty.