MANALAPAN, Fla. — Trevor Linden is looking forward to potentially driving to one of his team’s road games in the near future.
The president of the Vancouver Canucks says the club welcomes the development from this week’s NHL board of governors meetings that the league has agreed to consider an expansion application for Seattle.
Hollywood filmmaker Jerry Bruckheimer and billionaire David Bonderman have also been given the green light to start a season-ticket campaign to gauge fan interest.
"For us, it’s a natural," Linden said Friday after the board of governors meeting wrapped up in Florida. "To have a freeway rivalry would be great."
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman cautioned that the potential for a team in Seattle — which comes with a price tag of US$650 million — is still in its early stages, but Linden made it clear the Canucks are fully on board with the league’s 32nd franchise playing a couple of hours down the road.
"Tons of people from Vancouver go to Seattle to watch other sporting events or just hang out," he said. "People from Seattle come up to Vancouver just to see what Vancouver has to offer, so I can see that being an interesting play."
Vancouver is about 230 kilometres north of Seattle. The Canucks’ closest current geographical rival are the Calgary Flames, who are roughly a 90-minute flight away.
"From ownership on down it’s always been viewed as a very positive development, and that hasn’t changed," said Linden. "We’re not market protecting. We’ve never had any conversations, whether it’s internal or with the league.
"It’s just a great opportunity."
Turning his focus to this season, Linden said the injury to No. 1 centre Bo Horvat, who suffered a fractured ankle in Tuesday’s 3-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes and will be out up to six weeks, is a big blow for a team battling for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
"He’s been very good, and he was very good on Tuesday night," said Linden. "What do you do? It’s disappointing. I’m disappointed for Bo. Our group was just starting to find their stride and get real confident. At the same time — everyone always says it, but it’s true — we need other people to step up.
"But you’re not going to replace a player like that."
Vancouver also made trade on Thursday night, sending minor-league defenceman Jordan Subban to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for centre Nic Dowd.
The younger brother of Nashville Predators defenceman P.K. Subban and Golden Knights goalie Malcolm Subban, Jordan Subban had five assists in 16 games for the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League this season.
A fourth-round pick of the previous Canucks management team back in 2013, the 22-year-old has yet to play an NHL game.
Apart from Horvat’s injury, fellow centre Brandon Sutter is also out with an upper-body injury, which played a part in the thinking behind the deal.
"It was a chance to give Jordan a different opportunity," said Linden. "At the same time, it’s a need we have now. Jordan also requires waivers next year. With the way some of the defencemen like Troy Stecher and Derek Pouliot have emerged, it just made sense."
The 27-year-old Dowd appeared in 16 games this season with the Kings, posting one assist. He had six goals and 16 assists in 90 career NHL games over three seasons with L.A.
"We like the player," said Linden. "He can bring us some stability on faceoffs. He’s a big kid who can skate. It’s a bit of a depth play.
"We like some of his attributes and think he can come in and help us."