Vancouver Canucks: Trevor Linden’s departure was best for both sides

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) /
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It’s been nearly a full week since Trevor Linden left the Vancouver Canucks as team president. Despite the backlash from some fans, Linden’s departure was probably best for the franchise and himself.

Trevor Linden left the Vancouver Canucks twice during his playing career, and the third time, as team president, surely does not feel like a charm at this moment.

Linden was traded to the New York Islanders in 1998, following a miserable relationship with head coach Mike Keenan. He retired as a Canuck following the 2007-08 season, but returned to the team after being hired as its new president of hockey operations in 2014.

The pressure was on Linden — the long-time fan favourite — to fix a team that went from championship contender to the bottom of the league standings. General manager Mike Gillis was fired, as was head coach John Tortorella.

Linden had the difficult task of balancing the need for a rebuild while also trying to ice a competitive team. It worked in year one, as the Canucks finished second in the Pacific Division in 2014-15 and made the playoffs.

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But three straight non-playoff seasons followed, and now Linden won’t be here to oversee the next stage of the rebuild.

Now listen, nobody will deny how much Linden means to the Vancouver community. What he did as a player cannot be ignored, and he remains active in the city, a decade after his storied career came to an end.

But Linden lacked the experience to run this team, and there should be little denying that his hiring was strictly for the fans.

Linden can’t be blamed entirely for these last three frustrating years, but he didn’t do enough to steer them in the right direction.

During the 2016-17 season, Linden said he couldn’t rebuild because it was unfair to the Sedins. Less than two years later, the twins retired. It was a questionable reason to delay a rebuild, and it only set Vancouver back even more in their transition phase.

Sportsnet 650’s Rick Dhaliwal added a key point as to why Linden stepped down:

So Linden just wasn’t able to handle the pressure of overseeing this rebuilding team, which is easy to understand. On the other end, ownership once again got involved (rarely a good idea in sports, these days), and couldn’t see eye-to-eye on the direction. Jason Botchford of The Vancouver Province reported rumblings of a ” final straw-like event,” between Linden and ownership, which led to him stepping down.

We may never get the full details behind Linden’s decision to leave the Canucks. But this team should have been rebuilt once he took over. Rather, he was content in trying to keep a competitive window open for the Sedins, and it didn’t work.

Now, it sounds like Linden left because he wasn’t going to have his way in running the team. Rather than collect the money and keep a powerful job, Linden did the right thing by stepping away from something he didn’t want to do.

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It’s hard for Canucks fans, yes. Linden has had a major impact on this franchise, but it simply wasn’t going to work if he stayed on as team president any longer. He decided it was time to leave, and it will go down as the best move for all parties.