While Linden's announcement is no surprise, it still feels like a rusty dagger through the heart. Hockey in Vancouver without Trevor Linden just doesn't feel 'right'.
"Today is an emotional and exciting day for me as an athlete and a person," said Linden. "It closes one chapter of my life, my playing career, while opening up another which I am very much looking forward to. The game of hockey has been good to me and I would like to thank my family, former teammates, coaches, managers, support staff and the incredible fans that have been so generous in their support of my career."
To those outside of Vancouver, I can understand why you might think the hubbub and fandom over Trevor was so overblown. For the second half of his career, Linden was paid generous salaries, but was truly nothing more than a solid 2nd-3rd line player. While most of Vancouver worshiped the guy, most fans outside of Vancouver rarely ever thought about the guy unless his name popped up in NHLPA matters.
Let me fill you in on why Trevor is so beloved by fans and peers, alike, and why he's one of the few sports figures that I would ever call a 'hero'.
During the 06-07 playoffs, at the age of 37, Linden outperformed the likes of Markus Naslund, Daniel Sedin, and Henrik Sedin with seven points in 12 games. Linden was one of the few players to average more points-per-game in the playoffs than during the regular season for his career.
On a personal level, I was once the recipient of Linden's charitable nature.
During his first tenure with the Canucks, back when GM Place opened in the mid-90s, Linden bought a luxury box dubbed "The Captain's Crew". Underprivileged kids, such as me, were given the opportunity to attend a hockey game in the most luxurious of conditions. We were given all the free food and drink we wanted, we had awesome seats (of course), and limo transportation to/from the game. Linden even visited us after the game and signed autographs. Markus Naslund and Matt Cooke (for Vancouver's junior team) later picked up on that trend which Trevor established, as did NHL players in other cities.