Trevor Linden parts ways with the Vancouver Canucks

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: President of hockey operations of the Vancouver Canucks Trevor Linden looks on from the draft floor during Round One of the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: President of hockey operations of the Vancouver Canucks Trevor Linden looks on from the draft floor during Round One of the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Trevor Linden has officially left the Vancouver Canucks organization (again). The franchise legend has parted ways with the club and given the news behind the scenes, things may get rather scary as we move along.

Well, it happened. We’re going to get to the news behind the scenes soon, but I still can’t believe it. Trevor Linden has officially parted ways with the Vancouver Canucks. When I first saw the news, I was honestly happy. With all due respect to Linden, he was in over his head from the beginning.

Being the President of Hockey Operations in Vancouver is a tough job in this league. The Canucks don’t have a hands-off owner. He has a history of meddling, making a tough job even more difficult. But that does not excuse Linden for the poor job done as a franchise for the last four years. I don’t feel any sympathy since this is what Trevor signed up for and he was handsomely paid to do this job. And unlike many owners, Francesco Aquilini gives his managers a blank cheque to work with.

I had a horrible fear about Linden. Because of how beloved he is in this area of Canada, we often joked that there is no way that Linden could be fired. Edmonton Oilers fans know that all too well with Kevin Lowe. But unlike Lowe, it appears Linden knows when to breakaway from a tumultuous situation.

That’s not to say Linden cowered away and quitted. As we learned late in the afternoon and into the evening, things were not so rosy behind the scenes. And it explains why the Canucks were flip flopping in terms of their direction so often. Let’s get into this, because some of this is truly frightening for what lies in store.

Losing grip on power and mindset

The storyline surrounding Jim Benning’s extension in February involved Linden reportedly putting his job on the line to save Benning. How ironic, that after his extension, Benning went over Linden’s head on team decisions and reported to the owner directly.

Jason Botchford and Farhan Lalji both confirmed that on the radio yesterday. What was most damning of all, was the disagreement in direction. Ownership and Benning felt the team was a lot closer to the playoffs than Linden did. Surprisingly, Linden preached patience and wanted to use the Winnipeg Jets approach. Keep in mind, I covered why the Canucks are not even close to following in those footsteps, but the thinking is certainly more progressive than the actions shown.

Related Story. Are the Canucks folloiwng in the footsteps of the Winnipeg Jets?. light

For Benning, I’m not surprised. He may have been Linden’s “guy” when he was hired, but even he can see where the power was shifting. Ownership has become impatient, like many Canucks fans, and for a good reason too. The team is still a few years away from an upswing, which could be a tough pill to swallow as Benning and Linden spending to the cap with poor results before this offseason.

This is why just saying “be patient” isn’t enough. You need something tangible and last season, that was Brock Boeser. But all this is pointing to a bad place. If these are the results we are getting with Linden trying to rebuild, I’m not looking forward to an unencumbered Jim Benning. Perhaps Aquilini saw through that. Maybe he just didn’t care anymore because of that greedy need for two playoff games at home.

It’s ridiculous that Aquilini and Benning think this team will make the playoffs. At least Linden had the sense to realize that was false. But don’t think I’m letting Trevor off the hook. He as just as much to blame for the directionless slog we’ve had to watch for four seasons.

Who’s fault is it anyway?

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This question divides the Canucks fanbase. Most want to blame ownership for their meddlesome ways. Or Jim Benning for his awful management style in every aspect except making the picks that the league gives you each season. Some believe that Linden was holding Benning back this whole time. If you fall in the third camp, then you are going to get your wish next season. Prepare yourself, because it’s going to be ugly.

What do I think? It’s all their faults. All three of these men are responsible for this mess. The reactionary ownership made a PR move to hire an icon; someone who could not be fired and would have to quit. That’s what happened (sort of). Linden was a rookie executive with no experience who hired a rookie manager who only knew how to draft.

Trevor may have had buyer’s remorse after that extension, but he brought on Benning in the first place. It’s funny how Linden used to be the go-to guy on trade calls and that disappeared as he lost more and more control.

No more shields

Linden was very useful as a shield for ownership and Jim Benning. He defended both vehemently, even if he had to often contradict things that were said. It’s nice to hear that Linden fought for the rebuild, but when you think about it, he wouldn’t even utter that word until 2017. I guess he saw the light once making the playoffs every year decreased with likelihood in each season.

Next season, Benning is on his own. He may have more access to the owner, but it puts him right in those crosshairs. When that season flops (and it will), Benning will pay the price, barring another historic season from a Canucks rookie.

I’m not going to say I will miss Trevor Linden. In fact, part of me is glad that he is gone due to his inexperience and smug arrogance. He was never suited for this specific role and should have joined on in a real PR position of little consequence.

Leaving will be good for him. He was paid extremely well, so he won’t have to worry about that. But if Linden was one of the few dissenting voices in the room, I’m concerned about our 2019 first round pick. Desperate teams do stupid things and I don’t want to stomach a season where we watch someone else pick first overall with our selection.

Next. Vancouver Canucks re-sign Jake Virtanen. dark

Ownership is not learning their lesson as it appears they may pursue Chris Pronger as a replacement President. If I could provide any advice to Francesco Aquilini, it would be this: stop hiring former players and bring in experienced people! Their mistake was filling their front office with rookies. Stop it. Your PR move in 2014 has blown up rather nicely in your face. Maybe don’t repeat the same mistake again.