The organization’s split with Trevor Linden is becoming more and more entertaining. Despite owner Francesco Aquilini stating he would find a new President, we learned yesterday that is no longer the case.
I have to say this. With all the chaos surrounding Trevor Linden’s departure from the Vancouver Canucks, this has been nothing short of entertaining. Since the team’s owner is too craven to hold a press conference and defers to Twitter to inform the fans, we get the see the media storm he and Linden had started.
During the dog days of summer, this is just what I like to see, as it keeps things interesting. Although, it does open the door to potentially terrible things next season from an organizational standpoint. But more on that later.
When the news was announced by Francesco Aquilini two days ago, his 12-part series of tweets (somebody teach this man how to form threads), he declared that “A new president will be named in due course.” For the time being, Benning would assume the role of managing hockey operations. To me, that means the position is temporary.
A lot of smoke, but no fire
From there, we heard rumours swirling. One of the most interesting rumours came from Elliotte Friedman when he tweeted this out.
Canucks Twitter latched onto this quickly and many people were asking questions. I was legitimately curious if the Canucks would follow through with this. The biggest issue plaguing the front office was a lack of experience and Dean Lombardi would certainly have that in spades.
When Tony Gallagher was on the radio yesterday, he mentioned that when the Aquilinis fire a President, they have a replacement ready to go. This happened when Dave Nonis and Mike Gillis were both fired. So, it would too much sense if Lombardi was primed to take over, making this look like Trevor Linden was fired under the guise of an amicable parting of ways.
It seemed so certain, especially since Lombardi’s side went radio silent and Friedman confirmed that contact was made between Vancouver and the former Kings general manager. But all of that was squashed when we saw this update from Friedman this morning.
What likely happened
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From this point on, this is all speculation. Given all the rumours put out in the last two days, I think this is how things occurred behind the scenes. First, I want to add that Friedman made a point that Lombardi signed his deal with Philadelphia a few days ago.
Assuming that there was ideological divide between Linden and ownership (and I believe there was), a heated argument soured any semblance of a working relationship. I don’t think Linden was officially fired, but when he told Aquilini that he was leaving, I’m sure he said “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” or something to that effect.
With that in mind, Aquilini would need a quick replacement and likely had Lombardi lined up, hence the tweet that said a new President is on the way. But, with the conference calls from Jim Benning and Travis Green, we learned that the Canucks are no longer looking for a new President of Hockey Operations.
Since Aquilini’s replacement fell through, he had to scrap the idea of hiring a new President and let Jim run everything for now. They seem to align in their view of the team, but we will see how long things stand if the results are still poor.
But what about next year?
This is where things get interesting. I don’t like the idea of Jim Benning having total control over the Canucks. He’s not a good General Manager and it makes sense why the team’s messaging contradicted itself so often. How could it not when the President and the GM are on different wavelengths? Granted, I don’t think their views deviated until the last year or so.
Benning is not deviating from what we have seen for the last three years. We are going to see veteran-heavy teams for the next little while until that front office is cleaned out. And that is the biggest key of all. Apparently, Aquilini is big on the rebuild right now. Seeing will be believing, but if that’s true, maybe our picks and prospects will be protected from trying to win now. Maybe.
So, if the Canucks finish poorly again, I can easily see Benning fired by next April. This allows the team to hit the reset button and clean up some of the bad contracts on the roster. Although, you have to wonder how many people will be lining up to work in Vancouver with an owner this involved leaning on their shoulders.
Ultimately, it looks like Benning is going to set himself up to be fired, but as we have seen this month, anything can happen with this franchise, for better or for worse.