Trevor Linden has been announced as Vancouver Canucks president of hockey operations, which is a coup for ownership from a public relations standpoint. Maybe that’ll help balance out this PR disaster: Owner Francesco Aquilini and his family are threatening legal action against two newspapers that claimed they were responsible for John Tortorella’s hiring as head coach.
According to the Globe & Mail, both they and The Province in Vancouver were sent letters from the owners’ lawyers regarding those reports. From David Ebner of the Globe:
On Monday, Francesco Aquilini sent a Globe and Mail reporter a text message warning of legal action after the newspaper published a story discussing the family’s involvement in the hiring.
“I read your article today. You are a prick,” it said.
Two hours later, a legal letter from the family’s counsel arrived by e-mail. It alleged defamation, sought a retraction and an apology, and threatened further action.
“The facts are that while the Aquilinis supported the decision of the General Manager, the hiring decision was his and not theirs,” lawyer Howard Shapray of Vancouver-based Shapray Cramer Fitterman Lamer LLP wrote in the legal letter to The Globe.
Well, as the Globe & Mail notes, the facts are that the Aquilini family was involved in the hiring process, as former GM Mike Gillis noted when Tortorella was hired. But Gillis and the family have always claimed they weren’t the final call.
As Ebner writes:
The Aquilinis’ statements skirt how the hiring played out. Mr. Gillis last year had invited the Aquilinis into interviews with various coaches. The family, according to a person with direct knowledge of the events, was particularly taken with Mr. Tortorella, who had been fiery in the past. They saw a coach who could revive an underperforming hockey team. The Aquilinis wanted Mr. Tortorella, and Mr. Gillis and the other hockey executives came to the same conclusion.
So the folks who write the checks wanted something, and the people cashing them went along with it. Novel concept, that one.
Wonder who the Aquilinis will blame if Linden isn’t the answer …