Press Round-Up - JUN.11.08
He failed to deliver a Stanley Cup to Vancouver, yet somehow exceeded everything expected of him. This says everything about Trevor Linden, whose legacy far exceeds the narrow boundaries of the Vancouver Canucks' hockey rink.
Linden was the face of the franchise -- and its heart and conscience -- for most of the last two decades. There will be better players, but possibly not a better person. And no athlete here will be able to match the enduring strength and personal nature of Linden's bond to this city and its fans, which is why his retirement announcement today will be as poignant and it was expected.
Twenty years to the day after he was drafted second over-all, Linden is leaving the National Hockey League at age 38. There will not be another like him, at least for the Canucks.
"What puzzles the hell out of me," Linden's father, Lane, said Tuesday from the family farm in Medicine Hat, Alta., "is how a young kid, 18 years old, could bounce into a city like Vancouver and have a sense of what he had to do to make life better for so many kids."Linden's legacy may grow even if his statistics do not.
We will always remember you as our beloved captain - most games, most assists and second in goals.
Trevor Linden first arrived with the Canucks as a gangly 18-year-old kid from Medicine Hat. He will say goodbye today, when he officially retires, as a 38-year-old local legend.
In between, he played 19 seasons (16 with the Canucks), set team records, helped turn the Canucks into a winner and created a mythology that won't soon be forgotten in Vancouver.
He became more than a fan favourite in Vancouver. He became the face of a franchise, a symbol for a city in which he is beloved. To make his "special announcement," Linden has scheduled an 11 a.m. press conference today at GM Place.
Within a year, it's expected his jersey will be raised to the GM Place rafters. Linden's decision won't be a surprise to Vancouver fans who said goodbye to their hero in a series of stirring ovations while he took one last lap of the rink during the Canucks' final game of the season.
Linden's announcement comes 20 years to the day he was drafted by the Canucks, second overall. It didn't take long for Linden to make an impact after he was selected in the 1988 entry draft.
By age 21, he was captain. And in 1994, in his sixth season, Linden was at his most sensational, leading the Canucks to within a game of winning the Stanley Cup.
At 12, he'd hop on to a minibike, the kind tailored for the table-flat prairie spreading outward from Medicine Hat or for the gullies and ravines sloping down toward the South Saskatchewan River of Trevor Linden's boyhood.
And it was perfect for scooting along the ditches out to the Medicine Hat Tigers summer hockey school, seven or eight miles out of town, where a preteen Linden would perch in the stands and watch the older kids, picking up pointers.
"We knew we had someone special from when Trev used to hang around our hockey school," says Russ Farwell, the former general manager of the Medicine Hat Tigers, who listed the hometown Linden as a 12-year-old, back in the days before the bantam draft. "He had a little moped and he'd come out every night and sit in the stands."From the time Linden got a Maple Leafs jersey as a four-year-old at Christmas, he was hooked on the idea of playing in the NHL.
There are some excellent restricted free agents to be had in this year's NHL bazaar, if you're willing to risk the wrath of those general managers who prefer collusion to actually functioning within the bounds of the collective bargaining agreement.
And one of the most intriguing free agents to the Vancouver Canucks has to be Philadelphia Flyers centre Jeff Carter.
For starters, Carter plays for a team that is up against the salary cap as badly as anyone, although if Flyers GM Paul Holmgren decides he really wants to sign this kid, he could make the appropriate moves to make it happen.
And that could still happen before the draft. Carter's agent Rick Curran and the Flyers GM will meet again to see if Philly can come up with the right amount of money to keep him.
But if you look at it rationally, why would Carter really want to stay?
As long as he sits in Philly, he is essentially the third-line centre behind the suddenly inconvenient Daniel Briere, whom the Flyers signed for massive money until the world ends, and Mike Richards, whose contract runs out the same year clean water and fresh air are no longer in demand.
Trevor Linden, who led the Vancouver Canucks to Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup final and helped guide the NHL Players' Association through a one-year lockout, has decided to retire after 19 seasons.
Linden, 38, will make the announcement Wednesday at a news conference at GM Place, a source told The Canadian Press.
Vancouver selected Linden second overall in the 1988 NHL draft and he went on to play 16 seasons for the Canucks.
The six-foot-four, 215-pound forward holds the Canuck record with 415 assists. His 318 goals are second only to captain Markus Naslund.
In 1,382 NHL games, the native of Medicine Hat, Alta., scored 375 goals, added 492 assists and collected 895 penalty minutes. He also had 34 goals and 65 assists in 124 playoff games.
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