In fact, during an interview with Storm play-by-play announcer Larry Mellott, Walker revealed publicly for the first time since the Ontario Hockey League franchise was sold in September that he remains a minority owner.
“I am still a minority owner, not anywhere near what Jeff and Joel are,” Walker said, referring to Joel Feldberg and Jeffrey Bly, a pair of Toronto businessmen who purchased the team.
Walker was a part of the four-man group that sold the team, but it was announced less than a week later that he had been named the Storm’s president of hockey operations.
“That’s the way we wanted it. They wanted me to stay involved,” Walker said, adding he wasn’t part of the ownership at first when the sale happened.
“I said, ‘Let’s work together for a while and see the comfort level.’ They enjoyed it and I enjoyed it, and so we did the deal.”
Walker has now been hired by the Canucks to serve as an assistant coach under new bench boss Bruce Boudreau. The new hires came after the team cleaned house by firing general manager Jim Benning and head coach Travis Green over the weekend.
As for his day-to-day duties with the Storm, Walker said those are in the good hands of head coach and general manager George Burnett.
“George has done it his whole life it seems like, so I’m not too worried about the day-to-day operations. Even when I was there, I was more just a sounding board for him and keeping the checks and balances with the ownership side,” Walker said.
For Walker, it’s his third stint with the Canucks, having been drafted by the team in 1993 and playing there until 1998. In retirement, he was hired by Vancouver in their player development department.
“The NHL means a lot to everybody and so it should, but Vancouver has meant a lot to me in my life. It’s exciting to step up and help them when they need it,” he said.
It also means that Walker will no longer be on Team Canada’s bench for the Channel One Cup in Russia and the Spengler Cup in Switzerland later this month. He and Boudreau were initially named assistant coaches by Hockey Canada at the end of November.
It was a reacquaintance for the two men after Walker spent his final 10 NHL games in 2010 under Boudreau, who was coaching the Washington Capitals at the time.
Walker said following the announcement by Hockey Canada and sitting in weeklong meetings with the coaching staff, Walker got a call from Boudreau.
“He said, ‘I’m not offering you anything but things are heating up in some places,'” Walker said. “He didn’t tell me where but I could guess. I knew it wasn’t just Vancouver but I knew there were a couple of places.”
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Walker added he told Boudreau his decision would depend on a number of factors and that he would consider it if asked. When Boudreau called back the next day and offered him the Canucks job, Walker accepted.
The Cambridge, Ont., native was on a plane to Vancouver on Monday morning and standing behind the Canucks’ bench that night. Vancouver has won two straight games since Walker and Boudreau were brought on board.
“I just hope I can get through Christmas here. I was supposed to be in Switzerland for that and now I am in Vancouver,” Walker joked.
“My poor family — lucky I have a great wife that can roll with the punches and keep the family together.”