Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini joined Sportsnet 650 hosts Andrew Walker and Scott Rintoul at the station for a rare studio interview.
He talked at length about his aspirations for the hockey club, his preference that young players be given an opportunity to develop, his confidence in first-year head coach Travis Green, and that he does not like to meddle as an owner.
“We have a general manager,” he said of Jim Benning. “He is the expert. You have to go with the expert.”
The direction he gives Benning and club president Trevor Linden is to continuously work to improve. “We have to be a little bit better today than we were yesterday,” he said.
Aquilini said contract negotiations are ongoing with Benning and did not give details, “but as soon as we have something, you will be the first to know,” he told Walker and Rintoul. “I am pleased with how Jim has performed. I’m optimistic we’re going to come to an agreement with him.”
The Sedin twins, widely adored and respected in Vancouver, are no less idolized in the eyes of the club’s owner. (“They are people you want your daughter to marry,” he said.)
There may not be immediate plans for an ambassador role within the Canucks organization for the twins because they plan to continue playing, he added. “It’s not something we’ve talked about because I think they want to succeed this year. Daniel and Hank want to have a great year. I don’t think they are thinking about retirement.”
Aquilini says he's not actively pursuing an NBA team, but would be open to bringing one back to Vancouver if the opportunity presented itself. Described Rogers Arena as "plug and play" to bring a team back.
— Brendan Batchelor (@BatchHockey) November 8, 2017
As the owners of a professional sports franchise, Aquilini said his family is open to purchasing additional sports properties, including a rugby team. However, they won’t be buying the B.C. Lions from David Braley.
“We are always interested in looking at another sports team. I had conversations with David Braley but it’s not going to go any further than that at this point.”
The Simon Fraser alumnus also supports an NHL rival in Seattle and believes a team may eventually arrive down the I-5. And if he was presented with the right opportunity, Vancouver could see the return of the NBA should the stars align. He mentioned that Rogers Arena is still in possession of NBA locker rooms and would have no trouble being converted to a basketball arena.