Captain Canuck Becomes Mr Nux Prez
The prodigal son returns, sans stick, avec suit and tie.
After more denials than Peter ever gave to Saul, Trevor Linden confirmed what was one of the most prominent rumors in hockey circles by accepting the job as the Vancouver Canucks' team president.
One of the most popular players in franchise history, Linden replaces half of Mike Gillis' role and will be charged with finding someone to occupy the other role of Vancouver's recently fired president-and-general manager. Once done, the spotlight will turn to John Tortorella and whether or not he'll get a second season behind the Canucks' bench.
Linden's reputation for getting the job done will surely be tested. However, he remains near and dear to the heart of Nux Nation, so he'll have the political capital to spend.
Gillis's fall from grace was nothing short of spectacular. Voted the General Manager of the Year only two seasons ago after Vancouver claimed the ironically-named -- in this instance, anyway -- President's Trophy and made it to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.
However, just as ironically, it was the team's tepid performance in that game that spelled the beginning of the end for the agent-turned-team exec. It wasn't necessarily the post-game riots that underscored how the Nux made a legend out of Bruin netminder Tim Thomas:
This play combined with meek finishing exemplified the feeling that the flashy on-ice ensemble Gillis had put together wasn't mixed with enough grit to run the entire daunting gauntlet that is the Stanley Cup tournament.
And perhaps Gillis over-reacted to that. His decisions ever since them have been short-sighted and abysmal. The two mistakes that surely sealed his fate were obvious to even the most casual observer:
- He hired Tortorella to instill a hard-nosed defensive style into a roster that was ill-equipped to play it, and
- He traded away two of the NHL's best goaltenders in separate deals for what amounted to a handful of magic beans.
The disatrous results were predictable.
So now the question becomes if Linden's success as a fitness club executive and crafty businessman translates into the pressure cooker of professional sports management. It's a clear gamble for the Canucks, one that shows just how sensitive to their fans' passion the team really is.
And as he is now responsible for every facet of hockey operations, perhaps Linden could tend to one detail that has haunted the Canucks since their inception: finding a uniform livery and logo that actually makes sense.
At least that part of the deal is low-hanging fruit.