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#10 - Trevor Linden Returns to Vancouver


westsideconnect

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Happy new year everybody, and welcome. This coming October the Vancouver Canucks will begin their 40th season in the NHL. Given that there are 10 months left until October, I figured it was only appropriate to count down the months with an ever-popular top ten list. With one blog a month, I will be posting my top ten Canuck moments and memories.

Things to keep in mind:

1) This is in my opinion, and mine only. You don't have to agree, nor do I expect most of you to.

2) I was born in 1985. While I was able to name Canuck players and their numbers at the age of two, most of my memories don't really start until the early 1990's. So don't expect me to name any events from the 70's or 80's and don't get upset when they are not brought up.

With that being said, I kick off 2010 with my number 10 moment:

#10 - Trevor Linden Returns to Vancouver

February 6th, 1998 was a dark day for Canuck fans everywhere in the province of BC. After a strained relationship with new head coach Mike Keenan, Linden was traded to the New York Islanders for Bryan McCabe, Todd Bertuzzi, and a draft pick that eventually became Jarkko Ruutu. While Linden had voluntarily given up captaincy of the Canucks to the incoming Mark Messier, to fans Trevor was still the real captain of the team.

For months, and even years after the trade occurred, it always felt like a piece of my favourite team was missing. Trevor being gone had left a hole that nobody seemed to be able to fill. Trevor never had been and never would be a true NHL superstar and The Canucks on paper at the time should have been fine without him. Mark Messier, Pavel Bure, Alex Mogilny. To think that a team with these players could completely lose its identity seemed ridiculous. The 1998 season would end terribly for the Canucks, and they were stumble through the next few as well.

However this is not about the trade that sent him away, it's about the trade that brought him back. One season prior, the Canucks had finally returned to the playoffs only to be swept away in the first round by the Colorado Avalanche. With optimism in the air for 2001-2002, Brian Burke pleased fans everywhere in the second week of November by trading a first round pick to the Washington Capitals in order to bring Trevor back to Vancouver. I have always believed that this move was the biggest part of getting the Canucks over the hump and into contender status earlier in the decade. The West Coast Express was tallying the points, but the Canucks had their heart and soul back when Linden #16 returned.

On March 26th of the same season, Trevor played in his 1000th game. In what can only be described as "Typical Trevor", he asked for any ceremony in his honour to be delayed as he did not want the team to be distracted from the playoff race they were in the middle of.

Until his retirement at the end of the 2007-2008 season, Trevor continued to prove why he is considered by many as the greatest Canuck of all time. His clutch playoff performances over the years would include a goal against Detroit that led to an overtime win, a shorthanded goal against the Blues in game seven to ice the victory, and two game-winning goals against Dallas - the series-winner in game seven being the biggest.

While Trevor returning to Vancouver was a huge boost to the team, the real winner was the city of Vancouver. Not only was Trevor one of the big reasons the city was excited about the team again, Linden also was closer and had more of an opportunity to take part in another love if his, charity. Canuck Place, BC Childrens Hospital, the Trevor Linden Foundation, and the many other beneficiaries of Trevor's diligent charity work were all ecstatic to have Captain Canuck back where he belonged. In 2003 Trevor was awarded the Order of British Columbia as a "hockey player and humanitarian".

As far as the biggest Canuck transaction of the last 20 years or so is concerned, I'm sure the majority of votes would go to things like the Luongo signing, Bertuzzi trade, Bure trade, or even drafting the Sedins. In my opinion bringing Trevor back to Vancouver is right up there, and maybe even higher on a scale of importance. For Trevor to return and finish his career in Vancouver was only right, and cracks my top ten Canuck moments of all time.

trevor_linden.jpg

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