What more can a Vancouver fan, or an NHL fan in general, possibly say about this guy? It's such a weird feeling because I skewer almost every single player, when deserved, who has been on this team the last decade with the exception of Linden. It just seemed unfathomable to me to bitch about a guy who means far more than what goes on the scoresheet. A rare class of athlete.
Linden didn't get me into following this sport (Pavel Bure did) but Linden's efforts in the '94 playoffs didn't escape me either. Being that new to hockey I didn't really have the ability yet to understand what he meant to that team; it took Mark Messier a few years later for me to learn that. And it took Burke's reacquisition of Linden a few years later to confirm it.
If you look around there is no shortage of people far smarter then me giving their takes of the importance of #16. What always struck me about him is that the city loves him. Literally. I'm fairly certain he could emerge from a coffee shop with a bag full of severed left feet and everyone would go "awww Trev", bat their eyes and ask for a picture.
Even though I'm coming up on 15 years of Canuck fandom, my favorite memory Trevor moments are fresh: first, game seven at home against Dallas. I stand by my remarks in my liveblog at the time (around 11:14 of the third):
Do you want a beautiful sight? A power play goal for Mr. Canuck. Wow. I can’t even scream, it’s just a view to behold. 2-1 Canucks with 13:00 left.
We've all seen the goal, but for the lucky few, they got to see this inside GM Place:
That would be Linden's last game 7, but I believe he holds the franchise record for most points in a game seven situation with 12. Captain clutch.
Secondly, his last game was 60 minutes of complete Vancouver-style futility. But with the final whistle, Iginla and the Calgary Flames couldn't get over to him quick enough.
With Keenan watching on, Iginla lead his team over to Linden. He certainly didn't have to do that, but it shows the respect Linden achieved with the players, even on teams that hate each other.
What made Linden stand out and why he deserves every millisecond of tonight was that, through the good and bad, he just did everything on the ice and off with class. When he was leading the Canucks in the mid 90's, he was straight forward and poised. When Keenan and Messier banished him, he was graceful in his exit. When he returned he was humble at the reception. When Vigneault benched him in the later years, he was calm and still returned to practice and worked hard.
See? Told you it's impossible to say something bad about him!
Let the light shine bright tonight for #16.