Fans urge new Canucks ownership

The day after the Vancouver Canucks were officially eliminated from the National Hockey League playoff hunt and on a day when owner Francesco Aquilini fired longtime general manager Mike Gillis, fans took to Twitter to urge former owner Arthur Griffiths to buy the team back.

The day after the Vancouver Canucks were officially eliminated from the National Hockey League playoff hunt and on a day when owner Francesco Aquilini fired longtime general manager Mike Gillis, fans took to Twitter to urge former owner Arthur Griffiths to buy the team back.

"You should buy back the team then we would have something to cheer about," wrote Doug Taylor, who tweets under the account @GlobeThoughts.

Wyatt Arndt, who goes by the Twitter handle @TheStanchion added "Time to bring back the good old days of @ArthurGriffiths."

Griffiths thanked fans for the kind words and then explained to Business in Vancouver in an interview that he has no plans to buy the team back even if it were for sale.

"I sold at an all-time low price so to buy the team back an all-time high? I don't think I could be counted as too bright if I did that," Griffiths said.

Back in 1997, when Griffiths sold his controlling stake in the Canucks to partner and Seattle billionaire John McCaw, the Canadian dollar was worth about US$0.73 and was heading lower.

"The team turned into the greatest money pit in terms of losing money year after year," Griffiths said. "I was collecting Canadian dollars and paying players in U.S. dollars."

All Canadian NHL team owners faced the same situation and the situation was dire enough for two of those teams – Quebec and Winnipeg – to relocate in the U.S.

All other Canadian NHL team owners, except those of the Calgary Flames, sold to new investors, Griffiths said.

He rejected some fans' suggestion that the team might be better managed if Aquilini, who was not available for comment, spent more time focusing on the team instead of on his multiple other business and real estate ventures.

Griffiths then singled out the Detroit Red Wings as an example of a team where owner Mike Ilitch similarly does not focus on the team on a day-to-day basis because of other business ventures.

"It's Kenny Holland in Detroit who is running the day-to-day operations of that hockey team and he represents the Ilitches who aren't very visible. You don't hear much about them except when it's reverence for the kind of operation they run."

Since Griffiths sold assets, such as the Canucks, Vancouver Grizzlies and what was then General Motors Place, he has largely stayed in the business of sports marketing.

He worked for a year in London for Octagon, which is one of the world's largest sports management companies. He then spent about five years with Russian sportswear company Bosco Sport, as their U.K. manager.

That ended last April, when he moved back to Vancouver and founded the government lobbying firm Arthur Griffiths and Associates.

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom