Monday, April 07, 2008
A Special Player, A Special Night
"When I took the warmup and saw how many people were down in our end, I kind of had that feeling. As the game went on, it was quite overwhelming. You think of all the tremendous athletes that have played their respective sports, for me to receive that response is incredible. It's very special."
- via Jim Jamieson (Vancouver Province)
Forget the fact that the Canucks ended the season with a 7-1 blowout loss to the Flames. Forget that, in the last two weeks, they lost seven of their last eight games when all they needed was three more points to make the playoffs. On Saturday night, those were irrelevant. Some people said Saturday was a mean-nothing game. This may have been true standings-wise, but for the fans, this game meant a lot of things.
For me - and obviously a lot of Canucks fans - it meant a chance to say thank you and farewell to Trevor Linden, and even, Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison. Though with all due respect to Naslund and Morrison, the night was undoubtedly about Trevor.
It definitely was a special night. The fans gave Trevor many standing ovations: one when he started the game with Kesler and Naslund and again; another when he started the third period; another during his final shift with a minute left in the game; another after the game was over and his teammates congratulated him; another as the Flames, one by one, came back on the ice and shook his hand (pure class by Jarome Iginla, Robin Regehr and the rest of the Flames); another as CBC, ceremoniously, named him the game's first star and he skated around the rink; and yet another when he gave the jersey off his back to a lucky fan.
In case you missed it, here is the video of his final skate around GM Place:
As long as I've followed the Canucks, and with the exception of those dark years in the late '90s, Trevor has been part of this team. Like every other Canucks fan, a lot of my memories of the team includes him. He was the captain the first time I ever watched a Canucks game on TV. He scored the OT game-winner the second game I ever saw live (1994, game 6 vs. Calgary). I remember the '94 run, the 1998 Olympics, his hit on Jeff Norton, game 7 vs. St. Louis and game 7 vs. Dallas. There are many more, of course. While I agree that it's time for Trevor to walk away, at the same time it's hard to envision a Canucks game without number 16.
His on-ice accomplishments were only a small part of what he's meant to this team and this community. He's always made himself available to many charities. He's a fixture at Canucks Place and BC Children's Hospital. He's a spokesperson for the Canadian Cancer Society. We don't usually hear about these instances, but that's because he never draws any attention to them. The NHL noticed and awarded him the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 1997. So did the Government of BC which awarded him the Order of British Columbia in 2003.
"You know, sometimes I ask myself that because I'm overwhelmed. I'm flattered. I feel extremely fortunate, blessed, the way things have gone. But I have to be honest with you: I ask myself that, too. Sometimes I almost feel kind of like: Who deserves this? I can't begin to say the effect it had on me. I'm a guy from Medicine Hat who played a game he loved, and to get that kind of response was really amazing."
- via Iain MacIntyre (Vancouver Sun)
Trevor's response to Saturday's events is all you need to know about his character. He is a celebrity and a hero in this province, yet always humble. He is a tireless warrior, but respected even by his biggest opponents. He is a fierce leader and role model to every player that's ever donned the Canucks jersey not named Messier. In other words, he's embodied everything we've ever wanted a Canuck to be.
Trevor said he's fortunate and blessed and that's true. But so were we, Canucks fans, to have been witness to his career.
More tributes for Trevor from John Bollwitt, Joe Pelletier, Jes Golbez and Mike the Yankee Canuck.
Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.
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