Stop by section 316 starting Saturday night when the Vancouver Canucks host the Tampa Bay Lightning and you’ll understand why these three players are so celebrated.
The Canucks Hall of Heroes, powered by Rogers, was unveiled Saturday morning; it's an interactive exhibit that allows fans to delve into the careers of Smyl, Linden and Naslund, the only three players to have their numbers retired in franchise history.
Smyl, Linden and Naslund were all on hand as the hall was revealed to the media for the first time and each walked away impressed with the tribute.
“For me, it’s a really cool display and for the fans of the team, to see the unique memorabilia that’s displayed here and some of the interactive items, really captures Stan and myself and obviously Markus,” said Linden.
“Going back in history and seeing where it all started for Stan, his World Junior jersey from 1977 is really cool and seeing the picture of Markus back in the outdoor rink back in Ornskoldsvik is very interesting.”
Step into the Hall of Heroes and the first thing you notice is the massive seven-foot, high-definition screen that sits dead centre in the exhibit. To its left are a pair of fully interactive touch screens that highlight the careers of Smyl, Linden and Naslund, the greatest players to wear a Canucks sweater.
The interactive touch screens are beyond imagination as, after choosing to explore the career of either #12, #16 or #19, fans can look back right to childhood and see rare photos from each player’s past. Scroll through every year and the greatest moments and highlights are at your fingertips.
And that’s only half the exhibit.
To the right of the seven-foot screen we all wish we had in our living rooms is a tribute to the community work of Smyl, Linden and Naslund; next to that is a one-of-a-kind display filled with exclusive and authentic player memorabilia from when they first laced up skates to their final game with the Canucks.
Smyl fans will gush over seeing his #11 Team Canada World Junior Championship jersey, pucks from his first major junior goal with the New Westminster Bruins and first NHL goal with Vancouver and original ‘Flying V’ era equipment circa 1982, which includes gloves and a helmet.
“To share this with those two guys is very special,” said Smyl of the Hall. “There is a lot of stuff here that we had at home and our family gets to see it, but we don’t get to share it with the fans, who I think should have an opportunity to see it. This is that opportunity; there is some really neat things in here.”
Not to be outdone, Linden’s section includes his iconic black ‘Skate’ jersey and helmet, World Junior Championship gold medal, photos from minor hockey and his rookie season with the Canucks, the puck from his first NHL goal and his last game stick.
Naslund, the man of the hour, donated minor hockey equipment, including gloves he wore at age 10, his World Junior Championship Team Sweden jersey, an autographed Canucks hockey card signed by his Swedish hero Thomas Gradin and the x-ray of his broken leg, which he suffered with 10 games remaining in the 2000-01 season.
The cherry on top of this phenomenal fan experience is the hockey stall located to the right of the memorabilia. Not just any stall, it was in fact the changing area for Linden for his second tour in Vancouver, complete with all the equipment from his final game with the Canucks on April 5, 2008.
The locker was removed from the dressing room when the Canucks had it remodeled last summer and fans now have the opportunity to not only explore it, but take a seat and have their picture taken in it.
It doesn’t get much cooler than that.
A second Canucks exhibit, ‘Forever Canucks, powered by Rogers’, which will be located in section 121 at Rogers Arena, will be open to the public in 2011. More information will be available at a later date.