The Canucks dipped into their past on Wednesday, naming former team captain Trevor Linden as the President of Hockey Operations and Alternate Governor.
“Today is a real honor,” Linden said in a statement. “I came to Vancouver 26 years ago and I have never left. I love this city. It is my home and the Canucks have always been part of my family.”
Vancouver’s first-round pick (second overall) at the 1988 NHL Entry Draft, Linden spent 16 seasons with the Canucks and still holds the team’s playoff records for most games played, goals, assists and points. In 2008, his No. 16 became just the second to be retired (later to be joined by Markus Naslund’s No. 19 and Pavel Bure’s No. 10).
While he doesn’t have any front-office experience, Linden does have extensive business history (commercial and real estate developments; a line of fitness clubs) and previously served as the president of the National Hockey League Players’ Association.
“We believe in Trevor’s leadership abilities,” Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini said. “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.”
According to the Canucks’ press release, Linden will be responsible for “all hockey operations, including the coaching and scouting staffs, player procurement and development, and minor league affiliations and operations.”
The Linden hire is just the beginning of what promises to be an interesting transition in Vancouver. Following Mike Gillis’ dismissal yesterday, the team still needs to fill its general manager role and it stands to reason Linden would have influence in that decision, as he’ll essentially be working in lockstep with the new GM.
Linden’s return to Vancouver also follows in a recent trend throughout the NHL. Last year, former Colorado great Joe Sakic was promoted to vice president of Avalanche hockey ops and, earlier this season, ex-Sabres fan favorite Pat LaFontaine returned in a (temporary) presidency role to help with the transition after the team fired GM Darcy Regier and head coach Ron Rolston.
Other franchise legends that have returned to serve as team president include Boston’s Cam Neely and St. Louis’ Al MacInnis (who now serves as an advisor to the GM after several years as VP of hockey ops.)