According to a source close to the situation, former Hockey Canada president and CEO Bob Nicholson is at his home in Penticton, B.C., this evening and is negotiating with the Vancouver Canucks to become the next president of the team. It’s expected he’ll accept the job and there is mounting speculation that he’ll name former Canuck legend Trevor Linden to replace Mike Gillis as the team’s GM.
Nicholson did not respond to a voice and text message left for him by thn.com Tuesday night, but a source said he has been negotiating with Francesco Aquilini, the chairman of the Canucks, about becoming team president.
As soon as Nicholson announced his resignation from Hockey Canada last week, NHL teams were reportedly immediately in hot pursuit of him. He had reportedly already turned down the presidency of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment before the job was given to Tim Liewicke in 2013, and there is speculation that the Washington Capitals quickly made him an offer, which he also turned down.
It’s believed Nicholson most covets the Canucks job because he is a native of British Columbia and wants to spend more time with his family. It would be a perfect fit for the 60-year-old Nicholson, who is said to be more interested in new challenges than a big salary. It’s believed the Capitals offered Nicholson substantially more than the Canucks would pay him, but his heart is apparently with the Canucks.
The move to hire Linden as GM, if it comes to fruition, would be more surprising. Linden was very involved with the business side of the game as a player – you might remember he was president of the NHL Players’ Association and was a key figure in brokering the deal that ended the lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 season – but has not been involved in any managerial capacity with the Canucks since he retired after the 2007-08 season.
But Linden does have very deep roots in Vancouver and is recognized as one of the most beloved players in franchise history. With the franchise record for games played at 1,140, Linden’s No. 16 was the second retired number in franchise history. The first was the No. 12 that belonged to Stan Smyl, who coincidentally is currently the Canucks’ senior advisor on hockey operations.
Most recently, Linden recently created and launched Club 16 – Trevor Linden Fitness and is involved in real estate development in the Vancouver area. Unlike other former stars such as Steve Yzerman and Joe Sakic, Linden has no NHL front office experience and would at first have to lean on current assistant GM Laurence Gilman and hire other experienced hockey people to help him in his role.
None of this is cast in stone, but there is a good chance it will happen, perhaps within the next 48 hours.