#108 – The Cult(ure) of Hockey, Special Edition: Canucks Sports & Entertainment

Oh look! The owner of the Canucks is something called the “Aquilini Investment Group”. The Aquilini Investment Group is a huge family business headed by Francesco with interests in a whole host of things. Most recently, Canucks Sports & Entertainment has been trying to bring a basketball team back to Vancouver, because the last time that was tried it worked so well that the Grizzlies moved to Memphis. The Canucks are the fifth-priciest team in the league, valued at $800 million. Even more exciting is the fact that the Aquilinis are heavily invested in Vancouver’s unfailing condo market, because why not, right?

When the family isn’t busy financing the never-ending cycle of money laundering encouraged by meaningless and contextless development, the company is hard at work sitting on useless hotels throughout the country and otherwise absorbing money in hopes of following patriarch Luigi Aquilini’s immortal advice: “you aren’t making money unless you’re buying”. Of course, Luigi may have wanted to add “and building useful, long-term investments”, given that his son’s love of condos has punched the group straight into uh-oh country. But he didn’t, so we’re here.

Mr. Aquilini also went after two newspapers for the hideous claim that Aquilini hired a coach. The family went so far as to threaten to sue the paper for defamation. The family also hates disclosing their income or indeed anything about themselves. Francesco won’t even share his birthday, meaning that we don’t quite know how old the guy is. They also didn’t like the idea of providing information about a golf course that they wanted to build in Squamish, BC; apparently, unlike the folks behind the Lake Polley disaster, the Aquilinis didn’t donate enough to the Liberals to get “super-immunity from stupidity” powers from Victoria and the idea was denied because of a lack of information.

Shadowy families controlling hockey clubs isn’t that exciting, really. Nor is the fact that they’re throwing their hockey-money at condos that won’t take off. Even being secretive isn’t the worst idea on the planet, really. But their behavior, including sending a vicious attack lawyer to try to distance the family from the team hiring a coach, demonstrates a reality that the fans of the NHL simply don’t grasp; namely that the whole concept of the Canucks, as with any franchise, is to make money, not to win things. Whether they do well or not is a matter of profits to the Aquilinis and should be regarded as being about that significant to the average Canadian. But that doesn’t fit the Grit and Heart narrative, so the whole “profit” thing for the actual owner gets ignored.

The Canucks have still never won the Stanley Cup, and they play at a teleco-sponsored rink. Seriously – what the fuck is it with Canada and having useless, spiteful, spineless, impossibly-shitty businesses both behind their beloved hockey teams and on top of their beloved hockey arenas?

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