This has been a tough season for one of my favorite players of all time.
Trevor Linden is considered by many to be the greatest Canuck in history and remains very much a fan favorite, and no one is better in the community. But the end is here, and it is painfully obvious.
I think it is abundantly clear coach Alain Vigneault never really wanted him back. Even though Linden was the leading scorer in the playoffs last season. Even though, as evidenced Saturday night against Dallas, he can still contribute. Even though he is a leader. Even though he is a legend.
Vigneault has had the audacity to scratch a healthy Linden 23 times this season. That is 23 times more than in the rest of his career combined. And it'll probably happen again. Sure the aging vet has slowed and should be sat down in instances of back-to-back games or 4 games in a week road trip. I have no problem with that, and I'm sure Linden doesn't either. But Vigneault has shown Captain Canuck no class, no respect in what everyone knows is Linden's final season. He could have publicly played it as resting him given the compact schedule and lengthy road trips. It would have been the right thing to do.
Linden is certainly not the first player to hang on too long. Honestly some nights he's not good enough anymore. But with the playoffs hanging in the balance, the aged Trevor Linden will bring more to this team than Rick Rypien or Byron Ritchie, two Vigneault favorites, ever will.
Nor is Linden the first player to be put in this difficult situation. And this situation is perhaps most difficult for the coach. But you have to wonder what Linden's teammates think, some of whom have had reported run-ins with the coach as well. And what potential UFA signees this summer think. If that is how this organization treats the classiest Canuck of all time, how will they be treated? Would a Brian Rolston or Marian Hossa want to come here this summer? Or even worse, will Roberto Luongo want to leave in a couple of summers?
Coach Vigneault is in a tough position, and has disrespected Trevor Linden and many Canucks fans, too. I'll give him this though - he's got the balls to do it. But the cost may be much steeper than he realized.