Trevor Linden insisted this morning that Canucks management and Canucks ownership are on the same page.
“The 20 months that I’ve been here, it’s been an excellent working relationship,” Vancouver’s president of hockey operations told TSN 1040 radio. “We’ve been completely aligned on where we are and where we need to be and have a good understanding of what we have to do.”
Linden said he was “surprised” to hear Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggest otherwise Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada.
“I wouldn’t be here if it was any different,” said Linden, whose role has been likened to a “buffer” between the Aquilini family that owns the club and GM Jim Benning’s staff.
Linden was asked who has the final say on hockey decisions.
“We do. I do,” he said, meaning management, not ownership.
He then went on to preach patience, saying the Canucks will be focused on the draft above all.
“There are no easy fixes. There’s no magic bullet at July 1 that’s going to fix the challenges we face,” he said. “This is not a situation that’s going to turn around quickly.”
Of course, that’s not what Benning said when he took the job less than two years ago. In fact, he called the Canucks “a team we can turn around in a hurry.” Which is pretty much the opposite of what Linden said today.
So there have definitely been some mixed messages sent. And that only lends credence to the theory that Benning said whatever he needed to say in order to get the job, and now he’s trying to change course towards a more traditional rebuild.
“I see a general manager that wants to start over,” said Friedman, “and I see an ownership that doesn’t want to start over.”
The Canucks suffered their worst loss of the season Saturday when they were dominated at home by the stripped-down Maple Leafs. Five points back of Nashville for the final wild-card spot in the West, they have six games left before the Feb. 29 trade deadline. They host Minnesota tonight.