Sunday January 2, 2010
What's Average About Greatness
Trevor Linden isn't getting the Order of Canada for his Iron Man streak
Craig Hill/Voice file photos
ockey players who receive Canada's highest civilian medal are far and few between. The other day I made a Twitter poke at fans of Trevor Linden asking why should he get the Order of Canada?
The country's highest civilian award is given because of a person's greatness. It's a club with the likes of Pierre Burton and David Suzuki, Margaret Atwood to name a few.
Ex-Canucks captain Trevor Linden signs autographs last year at the opening of the Vedder CIBC branch.
You can't induct Linden into the Order based on his abilities as a player because, if you did that then you'd have to also include thousands of other 20-goal scorers in the NHL from decades back and there's not that many medals or assembly seats.
So what is a grinder centre doing in the queue for the Canadian immortality?
The answer is simple. It's off the ice where his greatness was really achieved.
Linden is getting the Order of Canada because of what he's done for the community during and since retiring from the game. It's for all the years of charity work helping kids across Canada. Both he and his wife have impacted many tiny lives in not so diminutive ways.
But beautiful BC is where he's loved the most. This is home and where he's raised his family. Time that he gave to the community instead of spending it with his kids. So it's an award earned through those daily sacrifices he made for decades.
The day the team slapped the C on young Linden's jersey, is when it all changed for him. All of a sudden the kid was the go-to-guy for players who'd been in the league 25-years and he had to start carrying the weight of the team on his shoulders.
Linden was always a players-player on the ice. His stats were average amongst the league with a the exception of a huge Iron Man Streak which showed the true grit he has.
A couple of biz cards I did up for Bure when he was with the Canucks.
He had more points some years thanks to players like Pavel Bure and Markus Naslund and Brian Messier. He popped in the odd goal on a regular basis, but both he and the fans knew that he was never going to put up the kind of numbers expected of one of the league's No.1 draft picks and brightest propositions. We were all hoping he was another Gretzky and when it didn't happen, we loved him anyway.
Linden looked for, and found, his place on the team as their grinder centre and dressing room catalyst for so many years. When he potted the odd goal the crowds tore the roof off and got the media pumped. And that's how it went for the blue collar grinder 20-goal guy.
Toward the end of his career he carried that moxie with him into Players Union negotiations with the NHL.
What Linden lacked in the points column, he more than made up for off-ice during the many years and what must be countless hours donated to charities and helping kids in the community.
The last time Linden was in Chilliwack, kids lined every point on the block at CIBC to get a moment with greatness. Linden, being the awesome guy that he is, sat there and shook hands and signed autographs until every last kid who stood there in the rain holding a poster, cap or hockey stick got got it signed. What a guy.
And that's why Linden is getting the Order of Canada.
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