Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Canucks: Trevor Linden to retire

Photo: Trevor Linden celebrates his game-winning (and series-clinching) goal against Dallas in the 2007 playoffs (Photo from Matt Gunn's blog).

The TEAM 1040's Jeff Paterson announced tonight on his blog at the Georgia Strait's website that Canuck forward Trevor Linden will offically announce his retirement at a press conference tomorrow, 20 years to the day after he was drafted secondoverall in the 1988 NHL Draft by the Canucks (behind only Mike Modano). It's somewhat fitting that he played such a key role in knocking Modano and his ilk out of the playoffs last year.

This retirement was perhaps inevitable, especially after Alain Vigneault's contract to coach the Canucks was extended. There have been several suggestions [Brad Ziemer, Vancouver Sun] of Vigneault-Linden disagreements over the last couple of years, especially when Vigneault continued to inexplicably bench Linden in favour of inferior players like Byron Ritchie, Mike Brown and Jeff Cowan. Linden was a very solid two-way player over the last couple of seasons, one of the team's key penalty killers and a proven clutch scorer (just look at how he led the Canucks in goals in the 2007 playoffs). He put up 11 career points in Game Seven situations, the best among active players [Matt Gunn]. He should have been feted and given regular playing time, not consigned to the bench.

Linden was always classy about the situation, though, when many lesser players would have ranted and raved to the media and anyone who would listen about how they were treated unfairly. That classiness is one of the many reasons he's always been my favorite Canuck: the others include his charity work, his ability to turn it up to 11 in clutch games, the way he embraced his role as the face of the Canucks, the way he always led by example and never backed down from a tough challenge and the way he would do whatever it took to win, even if it was better for the team than his individual stats.

In my mind, Linden still had a lot to offer this franchise on the ice, but it's obviously his decision when to quit. Here's hoping that the Canucks find another position for him in the organization: he's the face of the franchise, and the best ambassador you could possibly have. He's also a very intelligent guy with plenty of management experience in stressful situations, especially from his time running the NHLPA during the lockout (from which he earned a lot of criticism, fair or not, and not a lot of praise). Yes, he made mistakes there, but so did everyone involved, and he put in a lot of good work for his fellow players that was largely overlooked. I could see him becoming a very good agent, coach or GM some day: here's hoping the Canucks give him a shot.


- "Trevor Linden to announce retirement Wednesday" [Sean Zandberg, Waiting for Stanley]
- "Linden expected to announce retirement Wednesday" [Alanah, Canucks and Beyond]
- "Linden to retire" [James Mirtle]

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