Canucks retire No. 16 of fan-favorite Linden
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Ticker)—The Vancouver Canucks paid homage to one of their fan favorites.
Stan Smyl, a former captain and member of the Canucks from 1978-91, had his No. 12 retired.
In an emotional ceremony, Linden had to wipe away the tears as he watched his number raised to the rafters.
“That was pretty amazing,” he said. “For me, it was just like my whole career went through my head. It was the final chapter in a way.
“I’m sure you guys after the last 16 days are getting sick of this, so I get that. I feel like I’ve had more press conferences the last few months sitting here with you guys than I had for most of my career.”
Taking part in the ceremony were NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, former Vancouver owners Emily and Arthur Griffiths, current Canuck owners Francesco, Roberto and Paolo Aquilini, team general manager Mike Gillis, team president and CEO Chris Zimmerman and current Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini.
“There could be no finer representative not only of the NHL, but of professional athletes anywhere,” Bettman said.
Also in attendance was Smyl, who remains part of the Canucks organization.
“It’s a great honor to be here tonight to celebrate with Trevor,” Smyl said. “It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since the two of us took to the ice together.
“To this day I am very humbled to have my number hang in GM Place.”
Also taking part via video messages were former Canuck and current Anaheim Ducks center Brendan Morrison, former Canuck and current New York Ranger Markus Naslund, St. Louis Blues defenseman Eric Brewer, Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash, Trevor’s former coach and general manager Pat Quinn and PGA golfer Mike Weir.
A native of Medicine Hat, Alberta, Linden played center and right wing with four different teams - the Canucks (in two stints), New York Islanders, Montreal Canadiens and Washington Capitals throughout his 19-year career.
He collected 375 goals and 492 assists in 1,382 career contests.
Before joining the NHL in 1988, Linden captained the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League to consecutive Memorial Cup championships. In addition to appearing in two NHL All-Star games, Linden was a member of the 1998 Canadian Olympic team and participated in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.
Linden, who announced his retirement on June 11, ranks second in team history in goals (318) and points (713), and first in assists (415) and games played (1,140).
“You could tell right off the bat that Trevor was going to be a great player,” said Bob McCammon, who coached the Canucks from 1987 to 1990. “He was a breath of fresh air. He was anxious to play and he was excited to play and he showed his enthusiasm all the time.”
From his NHL debut on October 6, 1988 against the Winnipeg Jets to his final game on April 5, 2008 versus the Calgary Flames, “Captain Canuck” made quite a name for himself around the NHL.
“His commitment to his team and to community was of equal meaning and equal importance and he was intelligent enough to recognize that early on in his career,” said Canucks associate coach Rick Bowness, who also guided Linden during his time with the Islanders. “He was committed to both. Trevor was one of those rare individuals you enjoyed being around every day because of that.
“To me, Trevor epitomizes whatever a true pro is all about. The way he approached playing the game with his work habits on and off the ice—he’s certainly second to none.”
After being selected second overall in 1988, Linden became the first Canucks rookie to score 30 goals in a season. He notched a 482-game NHL ironman streak and became a key cog in the 1993-94 run to the Stanley Cup finals.
As a player representative to the NHL Players Association since 1990, Linden was elected as president eight years later. Consequentially, Linden was actively involved in negotiations with commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL on a new collective bargaining agreements that eventually ended the 2004-05 lockout.
A testament to his efforts off the ice, Linden was a recipient of the King Clancy Memorial Trophy (1997) and the NHL Foundation Player Award (2008) for significant contributions in his community.
“That’s the kind of kid he was. He was outspoken, he was opinionated and he was a good leader,” McCammon said. “If you had 16 Trevor Linden’s on a team, you’d win most nights.”