Canucks look to NBA champs for team-building advice

Vancouver Canucks president Trevor Linden (Jonathan Hayward/CP)

Two blogs in less than a week. Don’t get used to it. Elliotte Friedman has 30 thoughts, I give you two.


The Vancouver Canucks had three road games in four nights last week but for VP of hockey administration TC Carling, it was four in four. Carling met up with Canucks president Trevor Linden for a trip to San Antonio in order to pick the brains of the NBA champion Spurs’ brass.

Linden and Carling spent 9.5 hours over two days with Spurs GM RC Buford, Assistant GM Sean Marks and members of their human performance department to see if they could gain insight into why the Spurs have been so good for so long. Sure drafting Tim Duncan will do wonders for a franchise but to maintain the level of excellence the Spurs have for the better part of two decades is a remarkable feat.

Not to mention, The Spurs haven’t only been a successful franchise, they’ve also been a very progressive one.

“We were grateful for the opportunity to meet with the senior leaders of the Spurs”, says Carling. “They have been the most successful team in North American professional sports for nearly 20 years and they were generous with their time, insights and hospitality. It was clear from the information they shared and their values why they have been successful for so long.”

Carling wouldn’t get into the specifics of the meetings but you can bet the Canucks would love to know how the Spurs have managed Duncan, Parker and Ginobli into the latter part of their careers in order to keep their performance at a high level. Something the Canucks would love to do with the Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

You can bet the Canucks aren’t done trying to pry secrets out of successful organizations.

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I’m not sure you would label Canucks forward Tom Sestito a disgruntled employee just yet. But it’s getting close. As Vancouver gets set to play its ninth game of the season Sestito is getting set to sit his ninth game of the season. As you can imagine it’s weighing on him. Sestito met with general manager Jim Benning before the Canucks’ recent game in Denver to talk about his situation.

Sestito basically wanted to know if he was in the Canucks plans. He would love a chance to play – and if not here, perhaps somewhere else. Benning doesn’t want to go down that road just yet.

The GM’s message to Sestito was to stay ready and make use of his chance when it comes. He also let the tough guy know that he really respected the role he played for the Canucks last season (led the league in fights).

Sestito played 77 games and at time showed the hands that helped him score 42 goals one year in junior. Unfortunately for Sestito it’s not the GM he needs in his corner. It’s the coach, and just last week Willie Desjardins said this about him:

“He has to transition his game to our play,” Desjardins said. “He has kind of been in the league as a protector and we want to get him into the role of a player so he’s like everyone else. If something happens, he deals with it, but no more than any other player. So it is a bit of a transition and I don’t feel he is quite there yet.”

The Canucks have back-to-back games this weekend and next (L.A. and Anaheim). If Sestito can’t get into a game by that time I would guess he’ll be requesting another meeting with Benning.

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