Linden had spent the past four years serving as the team’s president of hockey operations and, although the Canucks didn’t fare too well on the ice during that time, the 48-year-old was lauded for the work he’s done to rebuild the team on the fly.
“I deeply value everything Trevor has done for this city and this franchise,” Aquilini wrote as part of a 12-tweet thread. “He is tremendously popular in Vancouver, and for good reason. I thank him for helping us get to this point, and I wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavours.”
In addition to Aquilini praising Linden and announcing that Canucks general manager Jim Benning will now be tasked with heading up the team’s hockey operations department, he also took a trip down memory lane.
“I’m a diehard Canucks fan as well as an owner,” Aquilini said. “I love this city and this team. An interviewer at a business magazine recently asked me if I had any unfulfilled dreams and I said, ‘Just one. I want to bring the Stanley Cup to Vancouver.’
“I grew up not far from Pacific Coliseum, back when the Canucks played there. I used to park cars in our driveway on game nights. When I was a kid, Lars Lindgren gave me a hockey stick. It was a treasured possession. I still remember the awful feeling when the Canucks lost to the Islanders in 1982. Again in 1994, losing to the Rangers. I remember the crushing Game 7 loss to the Bruins in 2011 like it was yesterday.”
He then turned his attention to the fan base and what they can expect moving forward.
“A rebuild is a long, slow, gradual process. Everybody needs to be united behind the same vision and pulling in the same direction,” he wrote. “Our fans are incredibly knowledgeable, passionate, and faithful. My goal is to reward their loyalty and passion by giving them the joy of watching their team raise the Stanley Cup.
“Following the June draft, we now have the best group of young players and prospects we’ve had since we acquired the Canucks. The post-Sedin future is starting to take shape. The ownership group has done, and will continue to do, whatever it takes to return the Canucks to the elite of the NHL. I’m confident we are progressing along that road.”
While there is still a sense of mystery around why specifically Linden is leaving the team at this time, the fan favourite who also spent 1,140 regular-season games in a Canucks uniform during his playing days was able to express his gratitude.
“This team and this game hold a special place in my life and I leave very optimistic about the direction the Canucks are headed,” Linden wrote in his own message that echoed much of what Aquilini said. “Most of all I am excited about the highly skilled group of prospects and young stars that we have assembled. From ownership to hockey and business operations, the club is as strong as its been in years. Above it all, I can feel our fans’ sense of hope again and I know the future for the Canucks is very bright.
“I love this city and this province, and I will always have a special relationship with this team and Canucks fans.”