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Leading By Example

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks
The final chapter of the long and storied career of Trevor Linden has yet to be written.

No one knows for certain what next year holds for the old warhorse from Medicine Hat whose post season heroics have become as predictable as honking horns and Canucks carflags on Robson Street during the playoffs.

But there is something about Linden fans know for certain: He's as clutch as they come.

Need a crunching hit on the forecheck in a do or die game seven? Send number 16 over the boards and watch him pick his spot to rattle the glass and swing the momentum in the Canucks favor.

Need veteran leadership to rub off on two of your franchises' players of the future? Put number 16 on the power-play with the Sedin Twins and watch him score the game winning goal with the man advantage.

Need someone who gets so nervous before huge playoff games that he can barely keep his lunch down? Trevor's your guy.

"I was as usual so nervous right up until the puck drops - just sick." said a relieved Linden afterwards. "It was a lot of nerves beforehand but I think our team really met the challenge well and once the puck dropped I thought we were good."

Being able to harness frayed nerves and still go out and dominate a game seven like Linden did on Monday night speaks volumes about what this guy is packing around on the inside.

Trevor's got an iron gut and an iron will. He plays his best when things matter most.

"Linden was great," said teammate Brendan Morrison about number 16's game seven performance. "It might have been his best game of the whole year. He kept going, his battle level was good and it was a perfect example of how to go out and lead."

With the game tied 1-1 in the third period, Linden parked himself in the slot and deflected a Mattias Ohlund point shot through the legs of Turco and barely over the goal-line to send the GM Place crowd into a frenzy of waving towels and deafening cheers.

"I knew I tipped it between his legs," said Linden to the huge media scrum. "I wasn't sure if it had enough to get over or not. I didn't see it until much after. I don't even know if it touched the back of the net or not."

Linden raised his arms in triumph like he's done so many times before with the Canucks and their fans during post-season play, thirty-five times to be exact. His 34th playoff goal moved him into a tie with the legendary Pavel Bure as the Canucks most prolific playoff goal scorer. That's saying something.

"It's one of those things, I've always enjoyed the playoffs," said Linden. "Tonight was a great opportunity to play with Daniel and Henrik on the powerplay and I guess through a long career you get a lot of opportunities. For me I've just been able to get some breaks."

Linden and the rest of the Canucks veteran leadership were essentially called out by Head Coach Alain Vigneault after their poor performance in Saturday nights game six. The Coach resorted to tough love to get the most of his seasoned players.

And they heard the message. Boy did they ever.

"We knew our performance Saturday night wasn't going to be good enough for game seven," said the 37-year-old Linden. "But tonight I thought our team responded and played really, really well. We knew we had to play better - we knew what we had to do and we just pushed ourselves along."

When asked about how Linden fared in what was his ninth game seven of his illustrious career, the Coach looked like a proud parent.

"I thought Trevor did what I expect from him and what his teammates expect and probably most importantly what he expects from himself," said a satisfied Vigneault. "He's been a great player in the league for a long time and he's got a lot of experience. We needed that experience to come out."
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