The salary cap is leveling the playing field

So Canucks fan, admit it.

You heard me…admit that when you heard that Mats Sundin had signed with the Canucks a little part of you felt like yelling “In your face New York!” Poor Larry Brooks of the New York Post had Vancouver pegged for dead.

Thus, with the NHL holiday roster freeze going into effect Friday night at midnight and lasting through midnight Dec. 27, Sundin – who has a $10M offer on the table from the Canucks that he obviously is in no hurry to accept – is likely to remain unsigned until late in the month.

So did I. I get and respect that Sundin took his time deciding if he wanted to play this year. But once he decided and the longer this went on, I figured the Canucks were being kept around as insurance and as a bargaining tool.

In a pre salary cap era, the Vancouver Canucks would have had no chance of gettting Mats Sundin, because the the New York Rangers, or other teams would out bid everyone. Not knowing what really happened behind the scenes, it appeared on the surface that Sundin’s first choice was to sign with New York. It would also appear that the Rangers couldn’t clear enough cap space to make this happen, thus making the choice of the Canucks too good to pass up.

It’s kind of ironic that the Canucks honoured Trevor Linden the night before the announcement, who’s involvement with the current salary cap deal was monumental. Perhaps in an unintentional way it was Linden’s gift to the fans.

At this point Sundin is a rental player. There is no guarantee he signs for another season, and the Canucks won’t be on the hook for another year if either party wants to go in a different direction.

The signing has given the Canucks two lines that can score overnight. If the defense can get and stay healthy, and Luongo recovers and gets on a roll, this team could be a force to be reckoned in the west. With the cap room Gillis enjoyed now gone, and further tweaks to the roster will have to be through trades.

For years the Canucks were always the wiling partner who just couldn’t shell out that extra to lure free agents. Fans sat by and watched as the Colorado’s, Detroit’s and New York’s of the world loaded up already stacked rosters. Now the salary cap has leveled that playing field, and that’s a great thing for the league, and on Wednesday it was a great thing for Canucks fans.

Just ask the New York Rangers.

“He’ll play, you know he’ll play…”

I’ve never bought a single ticket to a sporting event before, I’ve always gone with a friend orĀ  family member. But when single game tickets for the Canucks went on sale this year, I knew there was one game I had to try and see. That game was of course the one coming up this Wednesday, December 17th against the Edmonton Oilers, the game the Vancouver Canucks and their fans officially retire the jersey of Trevor Linden. I managed to get a single ticket.

Trevor Linden came along at the peak of my love for the Canucks. I was 19 years old on June 11, 1988 when the Canucks selected Trevor 2nd overall in the entry draft. I lived and breathed Canuck hockey, along with a bunch of friends. We watched every game, analyzed the drafts, discussed trades and how coaches should be fired. It was an interest that culminated with the very first edition of Canucks Corner in 1996.

I feel fortunate to have witnessed the whole career of Trevor Linden. He was basically my age, when he broke into the league, and he instantly became a fan favorite with his effort and maturity that were evident right from the start.

I could list my favorite Linden memories, but they would probably be the same of many of you. So I’ll share the moment that I think defined Trevor Linden as a player in my mind, and sent chills up my spine when it came from the vocal chords of Hall of Fame broadcaster Jim Robson. It was the final minute of game 6, in the 1994 Stanley Cup final versus the New York Rangers. The Canucks had the game wrapped up when Mark Messier gave Linden a cheap shot on the way back to the benches. There was no penalty on the play, but the crowd saw it, Robson saw it, and he had this call that still raises the hair on the back of my neck today:

Linden was not only respected by fans, but by his peers as well, as evidenced when he was given a classy tribute by the visiting Calgary Flames in his final game. Flames captain Jerome Iginla made sure that every player in a Flames jersey went and wished Trevor the best.

Almost every Canucks fan out there has a favorite Linden memory. His continued presence and contributions in our community will create more memories for others in the future. He will always represent this team, but he will also continue to be an icon in our city. Perhaps he will eventually become involved with the team again, there are many who think he would make a great coach.

Whatever the future holds for Trevor Linden, I am thankful I saw his career from beginning to end and for the memories and excitement he provided me. Enjoy your night on Wednesday Trevor, it’s our turn to say thanks to you.

Please feel free to comment on this article and leave your defining Trevor Linden moment!