Eastbound and Down: Canucks hope to compete in the Eastern Conference next season
On Wednesday morning, Vancouver’s ownership introduced legendary Canuck Trevor Linden as the team’s new President of Hockey Operations. When asked by reporters what changes fans could expect, Linden surprised many with his response.
“As my first order of business I will be lobbying the NHL to move the Canucks to the Eastern Conference next season,” said Linden, adding that it was a higher priority than finding a new GM to replace the recently fired Mike Gillis.
“It’s no secret that the Western Conference is the harder of the two conferences, and I think it’s apparent from our performance this year that we’d be better off in the East.”
Vancouver was officially eliminated from the playoffs on Monday, losing 3-0 to Anaheim. The team currently sits at 81 points, good enough for 11th place in the Western Conference.
“Just look at Detroit and Columbus,” Linden said during the press conference. “They moved from the West to the East this season and both teams are going to make the playoffs. Why shouldn’t we be allowed to do the same?”
The Red Wings and Blue Jackets are heading to the post-season this year, and it is likely that both teams would have been on the outside looking in had they stayed in the West.
Although Vancouver is the westernmost city in the NHL, Linden did not seem concerned with the increased travel or potential loss of division rivals that a move to the East would create.
“Our goal is to make it to the playoffs next year, and if we succeed in doing so, I don’t think our fans will care that much if we had to play Florida and Tampa Bay more than San José and Anaheim.”
“In the new world of advanced analytics and Corsi stats, people seem to forget one of the most basic stats – teams in the Eastern Conference are just not that good.”
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has not yet commented on Linden’s proposed strategy.