Canucks' new president has memories to build on


Trevor Linden watches Vancouver Canucks in action his first night on the new job.

Trevor Linden watches Vancouver Canucks in action his first night on the new job.

Photograph by: Mark van Manen, PNG

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VANCOUVER - To reach his office inside Rogers Arena, Trevor Linden can enter through Gate 16, which not only bears his old number but also his name and image. And when he looks out from the management box above the ice, he sees his retired number hanging from the ceiling.

He is risking a lot to return to the Vancouver Canucks as their new president of hockey operations. But he’s also giving up a lot. Linden’s life was pretty much fabulous the last six years.

To find out how fabulous, Sun columnist Iain MacIntyre, who first interviewed Linden in 1988 while covering junior hockey in Kamloops as Linden was playing for the Medicine Hat Tigers, spoke with the Canucks’ new president after the initial media frenzy that followed his return last week to the National Hockey League team.

Q: What will you miss most about civilian life?

A: I’ll miss making my own schedule. I will miss planning adventure trips and vacation stuff that I did a lot of. I’ll probably miss not being on the front line on radio and in the newspaper.

Q: Yeah, that media stuff sucks. How does your wife, Cristina, feel about losing her husband to hockey again?

A: That was a very big consideration. This decision impacts many people, and her the most. That was my No. 1 biggest consideration, the impact this has on her.

Q: Does taking this job mean you’re selling your skis and bikes and laying off Sherpas?

A: Part of me staying sane is getting some activity in because I’m a more productive person when I’m happy. I fully expect to get some miles on my bike, but probably a lot less. I even hope to get in a day or two of skiing next year.

Q: How many days of skiing did you get in this year?

A: Probably 50.

Q: That’s called the World Cup season. Where did you ski?

A: I skied in Wengen and St. Moritz in Switzerland, St. Anton and Kitzbũhel in Austria. I skied in Sun Valley, Idaho, I skied in Revelstoke and I skied in Whistler. It was quite a winter. If it’s the last one I have (skiing) for a while, it was a good one.

Q: I’m scared to ask where you skied last winter. Where else have you been, what else have you done the last six years?

A: Boy, other than skiing? Let me think. I did the Masters in 2009, some spring classic (bike) races like the Liege-Bastonge-Liege, which is a famous race in Europe. I saw the Tour de France. I rode my bike from Germany to Italy in a seven-day race. Did that twice. I rode my bike across Portugal. I rode my mountain bike in Utah, Idaho, parts of Oregon. I climbed mountains on my skis. I hiked from Chamonix to Zermatt last April — seven days on skis and hut-to-hut, just with a backpack. It was amazing. I spent time in the South of France, spent time with the gorillas in Uganda. I was in Zambia.

Q: I went to Disneyland a couple of years ago. It was wild. You leaving anything off your list?

A: Well, a couple of other things that were cool: I hiked the West Coast Trail, which was an amazing experience, and I (canoed) the Bowron Lakes. That was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever done. Right in our backyard in B.C.

Q: No wonder your dad, Lane, describes your lifestyle the last six years as ‘gallivanting around.’

A: I think everyone makes allowances for parents. Sometimes they say things they probably shouldn’t.

Q: Your dad also said he thinks all that adrenalin travel allowed you to channel the energy you poured into hockey before you retired in 2008.

A: I think that’s partly true. I’ve always been driven athletically. Growing up in Medicine Hat, no one ever told me I had to practise. I was the one riding a bike when I was 14, trying to get into shape. Had no idea what I was doing. I was the one going to the YMCA when I was 12, lifting weights. Again, no idea what I was doing. So I was always very committed and goal-oriented. Something like cycling, going from point-to-point is amazing. You start in one town, finish the day in another, do that for seven days and you wind up in Italy. Up mountains and down mountains, through rainstorms — it was the journey that was the attractive thing. I love having a goal there, then working toward it. As a hockey player, I did that my whole life. So when I quit, there was a void.

Q: Sounds like your trips involved a bike if they didn’t involve skis. What’s your road bike and how much is it worth?

A: It’s eight years old, called a Look. It weighs 16 pounds and back in the day was about a $10,000 bike.

Q: Did it come with a domestique or at least an odometer?

A: It has easily got — I’m guessing — 50,000 or 60,000 kilometres on it, for sure. I’d ride it three or four times a week, sometimes more. When we trained for bike races, I’d be out the door at five o’clock and off the bike at nine, and then still have a lot of time left in the day.

Q: Sorry, did you say ‘left in the day?’ You mean you were riding at 5 a.m.?

A: Oh, yeah. Midsummer, the sun comes up and it’s amazing. You get on the bike and it’s fantastic.

Q: There aren’t many 6-foot-4 cyclists. But you’ve got that lean, wiry look of a rider. You played at about 220 pounds. How much do you weigh now?

A: I’ve definitely lost weight in the last while. I’m probably under 200 pounds right now.”

Q: You’re 44 years old. When was the last time you were that light?

A: When I was drafted — 17 or 18.

Q: You seem to have packed an awful lot of dream trips into the last six years.

A: Yeah, I did a lot of things and enjoyed myself. I saw the world. I also had a good business thing going on.

Q: Apart from travel, aren’t you going to miss whatever measure of anonymity you enjoyed after retiring?

A: Occasionally, yeah. But for 26 years I haven’t really had anonymity in Vancouver. And you know what? That’s never been an issue. That’s part of the deal. I chose to live my life in Vancouver because why would you want to live anywhere else? People want to talk to you. That’s the way it was when I played and that’s the way it’s going to be now. It’s something I fully accept and embrace.

Q: I won’t tell anyone if you don’t want to answer this, but would you trade all those travel experiences for one Stanley Cup win?

A: In this city? To be in my position and win a Stanley Cup with the Canucks? Absolutely.

Trevor Linden watches Vancouver Canucks in action his first night on the new job.

Trevor Linden watches Vancouver Canucks in action his first night on the new job.

Photograph by: Mark van Manen, PNG

Trevor Linden watches Vancouver Canucks in action his first night on the new job.
Trevor Linden watches his first game as team president at Rogers Arena on Thursday with vice-president of hockey operations Laurence Gilman, left, and Lorne Henning.
New Canucks president of hockey operations Trevor Linden, right, and vice-president of player personnel Lorne Henning stroll past an old photograph of Linden from the team’s 1994 playoff run.
Trevor Linden, the new president of the Vancouver Canucks, through the years as a player.
Trevor Linden and Kirk McLean hug after the Vancouver Canucks defeated New York Rangers in the sixth game of the 1994 Stanley Cup final.
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