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Former Canucks captain may end up watching more games from the pressbox
Jim Matheson, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Trevor Linden had never heard the three harshest words in hockey -- "you're not playing" -- until Tuesday, when the 18-year NHL veteran was told for the first time in his productive career that he was a healthy scratch.

The Vancouver Canucks winger, who has played 1,249 games, just out of the top 50 in league history, didn't have his No. 16 jersey hanging in his stall for Tuesday's game against the Oilers. After gamely plowing through an optional skate with four teammates in the morning, his legs were fine but his heart was a little heavy.

"This is a first," admitted the 36-year-old, who has a goal and an assist in his first six games. He assisted on Taylor Pyatt's goal Monday in Vancouver, but played only nine shifts and eight minutes -- two under what he'd been averaging, while skating on the fourth line. "Ten years ago, I'd probably have said no (to sitting out). Five years ago, I would have said no. But going into this year, I knew it was a possibility."

Linden, the former Canucks captain, signed a one-year contract for $600,000 US just before camp started. He still has an A on his jersey but his role has diminished in the last year or so. But no veteran likes to hear he's sitting out, although most everybody does once the clock starts ticking on their career.

This could be the first of several nights off for Linden, though.

"I had a candid conversation with Alain (coach Vigneault) before the season and one of the things he voiced was the back-to-back games situation," admitted Linden. "But ultimately it's based on performance. I had strong games in three of our first four road games, but I haven't played up to my expectation the last two games."

So Linden, who was Vancouver's best player and their inspirational leader in their hard Game 7 loss to the New York Rangers in the 1994 Stanley Cup final, sat out Tuesday. Finnish forward Tommi Santala drew in for him.

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This being in offence to him (though in all honesty, I don't like him), but he should have retired. Last season should have been enough to show him that he can't compete anymore. He should have left before this happened.
 
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