On Monday, Canucks president Trevor Linden addressed trade rumblings surrounding one of his team’s most veteran skaters, Chris Higgins.
“Chris Higgins is an important player on our team,” Linden said in a statement, per The Province. “We have not talked to any clubs about trading him.
“We value Chris both for his on-ice abilities and his leadership in the locker-room.”
That Linden responded to the Higgins rumors was telling… because, um, Linden’s kinda the reason they’re out there.
Last week, he and Vancouver GM Jim Benning caught heat during a ticketholder event, as fans voiced their displeasure over the club’s offseason moves. Benning was actually booed after revealing he could’ve traded veteran goalie Ryan Miller rather than fan favorite Eddie Lack.
After the event, Linden reportedly pulled aside some of the more vocal attendees for a mini-hotstove.
It was not an easy night for Linden or Benning.
“When you’re sitting in this chair, it’s not as easy as you think,” Linden said.
What he did do, when it was over, was call over the biggest critics of the night for a 10-minute session.
It was a nice gesture, but may have been ill-advised.
In it, Linden revealed several tidbits, including his pitch that the Canucks have been trying to trade Chris Higgins but have found they cannot move his contract.
In short order, the comments were all over social media, and then on the radio. The Higgins trade horse is officially out of the barn.
Maybe they’re hoping something will change in August — unlikely — or people will forget to ask Higgins when he comes back to town in two months. Again, unlikely.
(Take this for what it’s worth, but one attendee apparently recapped meeting Linden on HF Boards.)
It’s hard to know where this leaves Higgins, 32, who’s heading into the third of a four-year, $10 million deal with a pretty affordable $2.5M average annual cap hit. It’s not a Benning contract; Higgins was extended by Benning’s predecessor, Mike Gillis, and the deal includes a Gillis staple — a no-trade clause (granted, it’s a limited NTC.)
As such, it wasn’t surprising to hear rumors of the Canucks trying to move Higgins. Benning’s already shipped out Gllis-era holdovers like Lack, Kevin Bieksa, Zack Kassian, Jason Garrison, Ryan Kesler and Tom Sestito in his attempt to reshape the club — in that light, it would make sense that Higgins, who had 12 goals and 36 points last year, was dangled in potential trade talks.
Unless, of course, he wasn’t.