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No Comparison

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks
It might be one of the most profound photographs in the Vancouver Canucks' scrapbook; absolute fatigue written on the faces of teammates Trevor Linden and Kirk McLean as they console each other at the close of a dramatic Game 7 in the 1994 Stanley Cup Final.

The picture is worth a thousand words, but that was then and this is now. Linden is still playing, in the twilight of his career and, as he did that night with his goalie, he continues to embrace his teammates and what might be his last pursuit of Lord Stanley's mug.

RAIBLE: You always wind having a birthday at this time of year (April 11) and, at 37, do you savor the playoff experience more now than you did back in '94?

LINDEN: I think you have more appreciation, no question. I have more appreciation that I get to live in Vancouver than I did when I was 23- or 24-years old. I take a better perspective of where I am and the chances you get to play in the playoffs and to have success. You never know when the chances are going to be there.

RAIBLE: Given some of the questions that were asked in the off-season about Why is Trevor Linden coming back?', is this a more satisfying post-season, no matter how long it goes?

LINDEN: You know, I didn't really pay much attention to that talk. I knew that I had some game' left. Last year was a difficult year, for a number of reasons. The team didn't perform well and there was all that stuff with the players association, but I knew I was able to help this team. It's been satisfying because the team qualified for the playoffs when nobody gave us much of a chance to do that.

RAIBLE: This has been an extraordinary year for many reasons but would it be fair to say it might be one of YOUR most enjoyable seasons?

LINDEN: Certainly. Getting a chance for some power play time with Daniel and Henrik Sedin was a pretty special opportunity. Playing with guys like Matt Cooke and Brendan Morrison was a big help to me and when you get into those situations, you kind of recapture some of that offensive mind-set that you had. That was important for my season. To be able to contribute in the playoffs, it's a great feeling. Getting the game winning goal in Game 4 against Dallas was pretty special.

RAIBLE: Interestingly enough, Matt Cooke, the Sedins, they say the same thing about getting to play with you. They've appreciated the opportunity to learn from you and benefit from your experience.

LINDEN: Well, I have to say that, I look at guys like Kevin Bieksa and Daniel and Henrik, who I admire so much, how they play and how they approach the game. That's what has made this year so much fun, I appreciate the guys more than I did before.

RAIBLE: Can you explain that a little more?

LINDEN: You look at things differently when you get a little older. I was pretty tightly-wound when I was in my mid-20's and I think I had a tougher time putting things in perspective, the winning and the losing. I'm very thankful for all the years I've played in the NHL. I appreciate the game more, the history of it. Like before Game One, when they had that 25th anniversary ceremony with the '82 team, and the white towels. To see Harold Snepsts and Stan Smyl and the guys in the runway, that makes you feel pretty lucky that you have such a great job, in such a wonderful game.

RAIBLE: Do you think this year's team has some similarities to the '82 team, or the one you captained in '94?

LINDEN: I always hesitate to make comparisons. Every team has it's own personality. This one has kind of developed over the year because we've had so many new players.

RAIBLE: So, how would you describe the personality of this team?

LINDEN: I think we're a team that understands where our strengths lie. We understand the details of the game, we're a professional group that knows what it takes to win games. Obviously, the addition of Roberto Luongo is a big part of that. Willie Mitchell has been a huge part of that, as well. He's such a smart player, and he's brought a new level of professionalism to the team.

RAIBLE: Does the coaching staff have a lot to do with the personality of the team?

LINDEN: When you change coaches, you change the voice' of the team. They've come in and really set the standard for accountability. It's basically one playbook' and that's the way this team plays.

RAIBLE: You've experienced one long, incredible playoff run in your career. All things being considered, do these guys know what's ahead?

LINDEN: I'm sure they realize that these chances come few-and-far-between' and every series is tough to get through. After missing the playoffs last year, I know many of us looked forward to being part of the excitement and be part of this city at playoff time. It's pretty special.
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