Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Always leave when they remember you best.

That emotional farewell in April indeed will prove to be Trevor Linden’s last skate as a Vancouver Canuck.

It’s being reported that on Wednesday, Linden will bring to an end this phase of his involvement with the team that has been his home for most of his nineteen seasons.

By far one of the most popular of Canucks to wear the uniform (whatever version happened to be in vogue at the time), the former on ice captain and forever team leader has decided that his time has come to call it a career.

People still talk about the remarkable final game of April, when the classy Calgary Captain Jarome Iginla led his team back onto the ice to shake hands with Linden, a salute to a long time warrior that left not a dry eye in GM place or most likely watching on the CBC.

It was a symbol of the well earned respect that Linden has compiled in his nineteen years, a role model for the modern NHLer.

Never afraid of controversy he was in the front lines of the recent battle lines, taking more than his fair share of hits, yet for the most part coming out on the other side of those struggles a stronger figure in the league.

On the ice, he may not worn the C any more once he returned from his exile to the east, but he was still one of the most complete and identifiable players in a Canuck uniform.

Vancouver’s second pick overall in the 1988 draft, Linden played sixteen years as a Canuck and should have played all nineteen years of his career in those numerous colours, the forever to be vilified Mike Keenan cast Linden out, a move that certainly sealed Keenan’s fate on the West coast.

The Keenan experiment proved to be one of the least successful of moves ever made by Canuck management and with the departure of Linden at the time, it was perhaps one of the darkest days for the franchise.

Bringing Linden back once that interruption was over perhaps was one of the brightest.

He was the heart and soul of the franchise for a good number of his sixteen years and the face of disappointment at the Canucks second, of two unsuccessful Stanley Cup runs. While his contributions on the ice will be remembered with much fondness, his contributions to British Columbia in general may be even more long lasting.

A tireless worker on behalf of a number of charities, he has been the best ambassador a sports organization could ever hope for, someone who has given back far more than he has received from his adopted home province.

In many years, it was only Linden that rescued the franchise from itself, as many of the decisions made higher up left the city and the province befuddled at the state of their favourite team, only Linden's presence seemed to keep the fans from complete capitulation when it came to their puzzling hockey team.

The change of leadership at the moment in Canuckland has yet to show the locals where the on ice product is heading, and already chances to utilize Linden off the ice have been squandered a worrisome theme that leaves more than a few wondering.

When he makes his announcement tomorrow, Linden will be exiting as all players should hope to go, universally respected and loved by his fans.

The Canucks will need to ensure that he remains attached to the Canuck family and not just in a PR cattle call, one day his knowledge of the game and the dynamics of the personalities that play it should be put to use.

Vancouver made a huge mistake when they drove Linden out of the franchise during his playing days; they had best make sure they don’t repeat it with his retirement.

National Post-- Canuck's Linden set to retire
TSN-- Canucks' Linden to announce retirement Wednesday
CBC-- Trevor Linden to retire from NHL: source
Georgia Straight-- Trevor Linden to announce retirement from NHL
Vancouver Sun-- Trevor Linden to hang up skates
Vancouver Province-- Trevor Linden retirement Wednesday
Vancouver Province-- Multi media presentation
Vancouver Province-- Linden was hardest worker from day one
Vancouver Province-- Photo gallery

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