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Vancouver Canucks right wing Brock Boeser, left wing Tanner Pearson, defenceman Quinn Hughes, celebrates with centre J.T. Miller, who scored a goal during the third period against the San Jose Sharks on Dec. 16.Josie Lepe/The Associated Press

When the Vancouver Canucks skated off the ice this week down 3-0 to the Columbus Blue Jackets after the first period, there was a fun-while-it-lasted feel about it.

That fun was the four-game winning streak the team had put together under new coach Bruce Boudreau, brought in as part of one of the most dramatic shakeups in team history. But the Canucks did something that evening that they didn’t seem capable of earlier in the season; they scored four goals over the next two periods, while keeping Columbus scoreless, to notch their fifth straight victory.

Boudreau, of course, was hired to replace Travis Green. But team owner Francesco Aquilini also persuaded Hall of Fame team builder Jim Rutherford to come in as team president and interim general manager, replacing Jim Benning who had been in the role for eight, mostly forgettable seasons.

While many have cited a losing effort against Pittsburgh on Dec. 4, when a fan threw a Canucks jersey on the ice, as the tipping point, Aquilini knew change was necessary. It’s likely grumblings inside the dressing room over the coach reached his ears. After the demoralizing loss to the Penguins, the team’s record hit 8-15-2 – that was enough.

The fact that Boudreau was announced the next day was all the evidence you needed that Aquilini had been thinking about this decision for some time and already had his new coach locked up. The night of the jersey toss, chants of “Fire Benning,” also rang out in Rogers Arena. The owner knew that the GM had to go as well, and so he decided to announce both firings the same day, even though he hadn’t yet reached a deal with Rutherford.

If pressed, Aquilini would likely acknowledge that he waited too long to get rid of Benning. At least a year too long. Some would argue longer. Yes, he was responsible for some great draft picks – Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes come to mind – but was also the person behind some terrible free-agent signings (hello, Loui Eriksson’s six-year, $36-million deal). The team’s return to respectability after its run to the Stanley Cup in 2011, failed to materialize.

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What the Canucks now have is some top-end experience running the show. Rutherford, 72, has won three Stanley Cups with two different franchises (Carolina and Pittsburgh). He surely craves the idea of being the only person to build Stanley Cup winners with three different teams. And it’s not as if he doesn’t have a good core to build around.

After sluggish, disappointing starts to the season, Boeser and Pettersson have both surged under Boudreau’s guidance. Their confidence seemed to have vanished earlier in the season under Green, who got increasingly frustrated and angry with his players as the losses piled up. Pettersson, in particular, was a shell of the player who claimed the Calder a couple of years ago as the league’s top rookie.

With Boudreau, the team seems to be having fun again, something it definitely was not doing under Green.

What Aquilini wants, beyond simply more Ws, is a new culture throughout the organization. He wants Rutherford to create a top-end franchise with an identity of which the players and employees are proud. He also wants to build a team that is progressive and celebrates diversity.

To that end, the Canucks could be bringing in a woman at the managerial level, possibly as an assistant to the new general manager for which Rutherford is currently hunting.

Some of the names I’ve heard mentioned include Angela Ruggiero, a former U.S. Olympian, Jayna Hefford, also a former Olympian and chair of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, and Jen Botterill, a former Olympian and now broadcaster who may be the front-runner.

While it’s been suggested that Rutherford would not have come to Vancouver unless it was understood he was running the show, and not the owner, it’s doubtful Aquilini would have given his new president carte blanche to do anything he wants, no questions asked.

There isn’t a president or general manager in the NHL who has complete autonomy. It’s the owner’s money they are spending and as such, that person will always have a say on big, important decisions. However, Aquilini is smart enough to know that if he were to make a habit of overruling Rutherford, he would almost certainly lose his star management attraction.

Aquilini didn’t bring in a Hall of Famer to second guess his decisions. He brought him in to build a Stanley Cup winner, something the owner has been trying to do since taking complete control of the team in 2006.

The Rutherford-Boudreau era is off to a good start.

The Canucks won their sixth straight game on Thursday, defeating San Jose 5-2. As their schedule gets tougher, we’ll soon see what this team is truly made of.

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