Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Man, The Legend, Mr.Canuck.

occasionally I can be serious....

If you were to ask anyone who knows me what two things they would associate with me they would say: The Vancouver Canucks and Trevor Linden.

On April 5th 2008, after the Canucks played the Flames, in what everyone expected would be the last game of Linden’s NHL career, Jarome Iginla called his teammates back out onto the ice to shake Linden’s hand, showing true class.

Later when Iginla was asked by reporters to comment on what he thought of Trevor he responded:

“The career he's had, a lot of us watched him when we were younger, and the runs he's had when he first broke in.  He's played for so long, and also playing against him, he's a guy that plays hard all the time.  He’s a leader.  He's a guy that's a good, honest, hard player to play against.  He’s not cheap. We have a lot of respect also for what he's done for us off the ice as a group of players.  I'm not sure if it's his last for sure, but if it is, it definitely was an honor to play with him."

I dreaded that game, not only was it the Canucks last game of the 2008 season, it was the last time I would get to see Linden play hockey.  I balled my eyes out, cried like a little baby.  The only two things, in regards to hockey, that have ever made me cry more was Linden’s retirement ceremony and the memorial for the late Luc Bourdon.  I thought I would be prepared for it, but I wasn’t.  I get choked up every time I think about the standing ovation the crowd gave when Linden was at center ice for that final period and Iginla’s heartfelt act of getting everyone back out on the ice to shake Linden’s hand.

Trevor Linden is an absolutely amazing man; the more I learn about him I am even more impressed I am by him.  He was a great player in his prime, but not the best, and I don't think anyone is afraid to admit that. His tireless efforts to be the best he could be and his outstanding leadership skills made him stand out from everyone else, something I don’t think anyone else could ever come close to.  What amazes me most is his work off the ice; his involvement with charities and efforts to better the lives of children who may never reach the age of the number on he wore on his jersey.

Throughout his career Trevor has won many awards.  In 1997 he won the King Clancy Memorial trophy, which is awarded annually by the NHL to the player who exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice.  He has made a significant contribution to his community and in 2003 he was awarded the Order of B.C., which is given to a resident of British Columbia who demonstrates a high level of excellence in any field that benefits the people of the province.  In 2008 he won the NHL foundation player award; awarded annually to the player who shows the core values of hockey, which includes commitment, perseverance, and teamwork and uses them to enrich the lives of people in his community.  In 2010 he was awarded the Order of Canada, the highest degree of merit awarded to someone showing an exceptional contribution to Canada and humanity.

When Trevor became captain of the Vancouver Canucks he started Captains Crew, which gave children who wouldn’t normally be able to attend a Canucks game a chance to do just that; a dream for many children living in Vancouver.  He has spent countless hours visiting sick children at the children’s hospital in British Columbia, putting a smile on the faces of children who don’t have much to smile about; he is also a huge contributor to Canuck Place, a Hospice in Vancouver for terminally ill children and their families. He also started The Trevor Linden Foundation which holds an annual golf tournament and has raised more than $650,000 for The Canadian Cancer Society’s “Camp Good Times,” a camp located in Mission, B.C., for children living with cancer and their families.  There are countless other things Linden has done, I could go on for pages; that’s Trevor Linden for you.

There are two stories I would like to share, of the many great stories I have heard, the first is the story of Michael Robinson.  Michael was a young boy with leukemia who Trevor met and always kept in touch with; he wasn’t doing very well.  Six months before a golf tournament Trevor told Michael that he would need a caddy there to help him.  Michael’s family was not sure if he would have the strength to do it, or even make it that long.  He was there for Trevor at that golf tournament, and died four days later.  His family believes that it was Trevor’s friendship that kept him going so long.

Recently a 17 year old boy in B.C. died after a tragic fall while celebrating his birthday. His favourite player was Trevor Linden.  The number on his hockey jersey was 16 and his memorial was held on the 16th for that reason.  Trevor had this read on his behalf at the memorial:

“He was an outstanding young man with a very bright future.  The very fact that I might have had some small part in shaping the way Dan lived his life is very meaningful to me . It’s actually more meaningful than Stanley Cups, individual trophies, or jerseys.  For this at the end of the day is maybe the most important reason that I play in national hockey.”

To me, Trevor Linden is so much more than just a hockey player.  His career had a bigger impact on people then I think anyone could have imagined; I am glad he realizes that and takes pride in it.  I am hopeful that one day I have the chance to meet him.  I would love to sit down and chat with him about his charity work, his hockey career, his new venture into property development, and his new fitness club.  Even if I were to just get a quick “hello” and a handshake I would die a very happy girl.  I hope that one day my son will grow up to be half the man Trevor is, I wont accept anything less.  He has shown me how great people can be and I wish there were more people like him around.

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