The Vancouver Canucks have named former captain Trevor Linden as the team's new president of hockey operations and alternate governor.
“Today is a real honour," Linden said. "I came to Vancouver 26 years ago and I have never left. I love this city. It is my home and the Canucks have always been part of my family."
"I'm passionate about the Canucks and I want to win – just like the Canucks' fans do," he added. "I believe I'm ready for this challenge. I'm passionate about this team and I want to win."
Francesco Aquilini, chairman of Canucks Sports and Entertainment offered glowing praise of the captain-turned-president. "We believe in Trevor's leadership abilities," he said. "His 20 years of NHL experience including seven as team captain, his role as NHLPA President, community leader and businessman offers a very special skill set; one that will positively shape the direction of this club in the future."
Speaking on the succession plan for replacing Mike Gillis, who was dismissed as general manager on Tuesday, Linden said that he has a multitude of options to explore and has already begun looking.
"That's a process that I have to thoroughly evaluate," Linden said when asked about the GM search. "We will do a general manager search from both within and outside our organization."
With only three games remaining in the regular season, the Canucks announced that Gillis was fired after the team was officially eliminated from postseason contention. The Canucks were also eliminated in the first round in each of the last two seasons after falling one win short of a Stanley Cup in 2011.
"I have a profile of a general manager that I would like," Linden said Wednesday. "Now it's about putting a candidate list together. That's a critical path."
He would add that he will operate with "full autonomy" as Canucks' president and will make all decisions on hockey operations. Linden also expressed his intention to have a new general manager in place by the 2014 NHL Draft, scheduled for June 27-28 in Philadelphia.
Under first-year head coach John Tortorella, they sit 11th in the Western Conference. And as for Tortorella's future with the Canucks, Linden said there's no hurry to decide.
"Any sort of coaching decision will be made in due time, after a thorough evaluation," he said at Wednesday's introductory news conference.
Aquilini elaborated on the need for a new man at the top of the Canucks' hockey department. "We came from within one game of winning a Stanley Cup [in 2011], and it was time for a change," he said.
Aquilini added that he would not stop short of pointing the finger at his recently-dismissed GM and his current coach. ""Mike (Gillis) hired Tortorella and I'm responsible for that and that's why we have a change in direction today," he explained.
Linden would not offer up any theories as to what led to the Canucks' failure to make the playoffs this season, but pointed to the timing of the decision as beneficial to getting answers. Linden said he'd use this coming week to talk to coaches and players and conduct a "thorough review" of the season.
"I'll reserve comment until I have more detail," Linden concluded.
Gillis came to the organization in April of 2008, taking over for the fired Dave Nonis. He turned a club which had missed out on the postseason in two of the previous three seasons and built them back up into a contender, snagging five straight playoff berths, five Northwest Division titles and two straight Presidents' Trophies (2011, 2012).
"On behalf of my entire family, I would like to sincerely thank Mike Gillis for his hard work and the many contributions he made on and off the ice during his tenure," said Aquilini in a statement on Tuesday. "The Vancouver Canucks had success under Mike's leadership, and we nearly reached our ultimate goal; but I believe we have reached a point where a change in leadership and new voice is needed.
"I also want to thank our fans for their support for the Vancouver Canucks through a difficult and frustrating season," continued Aquilini. "We haven't met their expectations or ours. We are committed to bringing the Stanley Cup to Vancouver for our fans and we will continue to do everything possible to reach that goal."
Linden played 16 seasons with the Canucks and is the franchise leader in games played. As team captain from 1991 to 1997, he helped lead the Canucks to their second-ever appearance in the Stanley Cup final in 1994.