Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Quick Hits: First Impressions on the Second Linden Era

As much as I've panned hiring Trevor Linden as the president of hockey operations on Twitter, I think it's important to distinguish between criticism of Linden and criticism of the hiring. The fact of the matter is that Trevor Linden has no experience making hockey decisions at any level, and we don't know if he's going to be anything more than a well-informed figurehead. This means that no one can accurately say whether or not he's capable of fulfilling this role if he is making decisions on the hockey ops. side of things. The important thing that I heard in today's presser, and really the only bit of stuff worth chewing on, is that Linden seems to understand the need to surround himself with quality support staff and an excellent team of decision makers.

He brought up the example of Steve Yzerman when asked about his lack of experience, but the big difference is that Yzerman spent 4 years as an assistant GM under Ken Holland, Jim Nill, and the Detroit Red Wings, before moving on to Tampa Bay. There, he's surrounded himself with quality people like Julien BriseBois and Pat Verbeek, and a full-time statistical analyst among other support staff. Even though Linden doesn't have the experience of Yzerman, he can still make this work by building a team that does have experience in making hockey decisions. He can probably make this work quite well. We'll see.

What I think we can criticize is the fact that Francesco Aquilini hired someone like Linden though. From the outside, it looks like ownership's priorities lay more with corporate gladhanding and pandering to the fans still enthralled with the '94 run, rather than conducting an exhaustive search for the guy best suited to putting an effective hockey team on the ice. As Taj so lovingly transcribed for us, Elliotte Friedman suspects that this is a pretty transparent PR move more than anything. I'm of the mind that you get fans back by putting an entertaining and successful product on the ice rather than distracting them with shiny objects. Rather than looking for a guy who's determined to play an entertaining and successful style of hockey, ownership went and got a shiny object. "Look! It's Trevor! Go buy tickets! Do it for Trevor!"

I mean, I think Harrison Mooney pretty well nails it here:
Maybe it's because I'm admittedly a younger fan so '94 and by extension Trevor Linden the person don't resonate with me, but I don't see this as a move that will lead Vancouver to the promise land. Whether this move is successful really depends on who Linden (and ownership) pick to form the hockey operations team that will surely make the bulk of decisions, because leaning on Linden seems like a losing proposition.

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