Friday: Friedman cleared things up today when he reported that Lombardi, who has been working with the Philadelphia Flyers under GM Ron Hextall, recently signed a three-year deal and is committed to his current organization. Lombardi will not be the next team president for Vancouver, a position that might not even be filled by anyone given Benning’s recent comments.
Thursday: The Vancouver Canucks made a big splash yesterday when they announced that they had parted ways with team president Trevor Linden, and immediately speculation has exploded about who could potentially replace the outgoing executive. Brian Burke was asked on Sportsnet radio if he’d be interested, given his past ties to the organization, but responded that isn’t a possibility. Instead, another experienced option has surfaced today as Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet has heard Dean Lombardi’s name as a “serious contender” for the vacancy. Lombardi was fired by the Los Angeles Kings just over a year ago, but has a long history of success in the NHL including two Stanley Cup championships.
It’s not clear if the Canucks would quickly move to hire a replacement for Linden, but Lombardi certainly has his supporters around the league. Jim Benning is still currently operating as the GM of Vancouver while taking on the responsibilities of team president, but there’s no guarantee he would stay on if a different executive was brought in above him. As we saw with the recent hiring of Lou Lamoriello with the New York Islanders, new management often wants to clean house when they inherit a franchise.
The Canucks have built quite the pool of prospects over the last few years, but made some head-scratching moves this summer when they handed out multi-year contracts to depth players like Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle and Tim Schaller. While all three bring a certain style of play that Vancouver may have been lacking, it’s surprising that the first two were able to secure four-year contacts from anyone given their limited upside—not to mention the modified no-trade clauses they both received. There is plenty to be excited about in Vancouver though, as Brock Boeser is one of the league’s top young players and others like Elias Pettersson, Adam Gaudette, Olli Juolevi and Quinn Hughes will soon be making their marks.
Bringing in a new voice is always risky, but Vancouver could be simply trying to insulate Benning from some of the more high-level franchise decisions and allow him focus on the on-ice product and scouting the next generation of Canucks’ players. The organization needs to find some success at some point, after missing the playoffs in five of the last six seasons and not winning a playoff round since 2013.