All Tuesday morning, hockey insiders like Darren Dreger, Pierre LeBrun and Bob McKenzie have been buzzing about changes coming to the Vancouver Canucks' front office. It sounds like the buzz is coming to a point, though. Former Canucks star Trevor Linden may be named the team's president according to McKenzie.
Further to @DarrenDreger, nothing official yet, but sounds like Trevor Linden expected to be new president in VAN.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) April 8, 2014
Linden has since denied the rumors during an appearance on Global TV in Vancouver, saying he hasn't talked to Canucks ownership about the job and an announcement is not imminent (via The Province). Doesn't mean this won't happen at some point though as Linden seemed to indicate he would listen if approached.
If Linden is in, that likely would signify the end of Mike Gillis' tenure with the club. Gillis currently serves as president and general manager of the club. The team has struggled mightily this season and the last two years have been a disaster when it comes to perception.
One scenario, as yet UNCONFIRMED, is GM Mike Gillis would be fired, Linden would hire new GM and new GM would sort out future of Tortorella.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) April 8, 2014
According to Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet, declining season ticket renewals could have been part of the trigger to make changes. Monday night against the Anaheim Ducks, restless Canucks fans chanted angrily for the club to "Fire Gillis."
Since the unceremonious end to the Roberto Luongo Era in Vancouver, Gillis has seemed to be skating on thin ice. With the club officially eliminated from playoff contention Monday night, the boiling point could have been reached internally for the organization.
Bringing in a fan favorite like Linden, whose No. 16 hangs in the rafters, and serves as a reminder of the team's great runs in the early 1990s, might appease folks temporarily. Inserting a former franchise star in a position of high regard like the Canucks may be doing can have its advantages, but often they are short-lived benefits.
There have been some front-office disasters of late, like the one currently going in Edmonton with former defenseman Kevin Lowe at the helm as team president. Brett Hull became kind of a symbolic executive rather than an effective one after his stint as co-general manager went sour in the Dallas Stars' front office, and Pat LaFontaine's time in Buffalo as the team's president of hockey operations was brief and eventually rocky.
They're not all bad, though. Joe Sakic is helping engineer a dramatic turnaround of the Colorado Avalanche along with former teammate and new head coach Patrick Roy. How Linden fares would be anyone's guess at this point, but if its anything like those not named Sakic, it could only make matters worse for a franchise in decline on the ice.
Linden was heavily involved with the NHLPA as a player representative and then served eight years as the union president, which is certainly helpful. Aside from that though, he doesn't have any managerial experience beyond the fitness centers he owns.
With Linden denying it and nothing confirmed yet, it's hard to know what will happen. Ex-stars can be good team executives, but the trail of bad ones has grown in recent years shows it is a risky play.
Fans love seeing old stars involved, but they respond to winning more. The Canucks have to tread carefully here if they are to get out of this organizational funk they're in. They have pieces in place to turn things around relatively quickly, but finding the right person to build around aging star players is not going to be easy.