Canucks and Beyond

Tales of Trevor

08/16/2007 at 2:31pm EDT

“I know I have a skill set that can complement this team and I think I bring some other tangibles that are good for this team,” Linden, the 37-year-old unsigned free agent, told The Vancouver Sun before the meeting. “Quite honestly, if they feel they can be a better team without me, I’m fine with that, don’t have any problem with that. But I need to know.”

And so now it’s Dave Nonis’ and Alain Vigneault’s move: make an offer or say goodbye.

For a lot of reasons, I’m surprised by this situation. The comments I recall from Vigneault and Nonis about 6 weeks ago were—aside from arguments about the exact nature of Linden’s future role on the team—that it was ultimately the Linden’s choice to return or not. Then Linden went on holiday and the impression was that he would be making that decision while away.

Yet apparently not. He’s back in Vancouver and he wants to know what’s up.

The other surprise was this revelation:

Linden, who has spent all but 31/2 of his 18 NHL seasons in Vancouver, said he may play elsewhere if the Canucks don’t want him. His agent, Don Meehan, has been quietly contacting teams and Linden said at least a couple have expressed interest in him.
“But it would have to be the right situation,” he said.

It never in a million years occurred to me that if Linden didn’t play for the Canucks this season, he would play elsewhere. But given the way the team is handling this (2 weeks till training camp, and still no decision?) who can blame him? If the statements in MacIntyre’s report are correct—and with the direct quotes he has, there’s no room to believe they aren’t—Linden wants back and the team is waffling on him. Whatever Linden’s own personal preferences, Meehan is wise to shop his client around at this point; it certainly applies pressure on Dave Nonis.

As Waiting for Stanley said yesterday, the reasons for bringing back Linden are compelling.

You know that almost every single Nucklehead wants him back for another season. How can they not? Linden proved to everyone last season that he still has some fuel left in the tank, scoring 12 goals and 25 points in a limited role during the 06-07 regular season and leading the Nucks with 7 points in the playoffs. The guy is a local god.

And those points were achieved averaging only 12:20 of playing time. That’s rather damn good for a guy consigned to the 4th line for much of the season. Now throw in the fact that his cost would be under $750,000, and he’s a major fan favorite, signing him is a no-brainer. Or so you’d think.

Greg Wyshynski disagrees, and remarks,

“As valuable as Linden was in the postseason, would it serve the Canucks better to give his regular season shifts to younger talent? I agree with Jeffery Simpson of Metroblogging Vancouver: At some point, you have to start looking for the next Trevor Linden.”

Fair enough, and ultimately totally true. But the next Trevor Linden can mean two things: either the star player he was, or the veteran player he currently is.

Presumably Dave Nonis’ job is to find that next star - and that should have nothing to do with keeping Linden or losing him. With every year’s entry draft, of course Nonis looks to find that diamond that will become the “next Trevor Linden” circa 1990s.

But as the veteran player Linden currently is… why do we need the “next” Linden? We’ve still got the real deal ready to play, reasonably priced, and providing an important element this team needs.

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