On Wednesday night we get another chance to say goodbye to one of my all time favorite players, Trevor Linden.
In doing so, GM Place finally finds a soul, and finally takes a step towards becoming a grand ol' rink of hockey.
The Canucks have not had a lot to celebrate over their near 40 years, and what they have accomplished, namely the much cherished Stanley Cup runs in 1982 and 1994, came in their old rink, the Pacific Coliseum.
That old barn was a great hockey rink, and still is as fans of the WHL Vancouver Giants can attest. It was far from as legendary as the Montreal Forum or Maple Leaf Gardens, but the old rink on North Renfrew street was the birthplace of towel power and the home of local legends like Stan Smyl, Harold Snepsts, Tiger Williams, Cliff Ronning and Pavel Bure.
The Canucks moved to their downtown digs at GM Place in 1995. In more than a decade the building has had more embarrassing moments than great ones - the Todd Bertuzzi mugging, the Marty McSorley lumber-jack incident, the Mark Messier/Mike Keenan Error and for the most part some pretty weak hockey, especially come playoff time. And that does not even include the failed Grizzlies NBA team or the infamous Guns 'N Roses riot.
Great arenas or stadiums, like the Montreal Forum or the Boston Gardens or Yankee Stadium, are made great by great moments. Tonight, GM Place finally gets one of those moments as the Vancouver Canucks retired jersey #16, the jersey of the greatest Canuck of them all, Trevor Linden.
This moment actually started on April 5th, as the Canucks fans saluted Linden in what everyone knew would be his last game, leaving few eyes dry. But Linden will be eternized tonight.
Tom Larscheid, the legendary long time Vancouver radio colorman, has said that Wednesday will be the greatest moment in Canucks history. Even as great as the 1994 Stanley Cup finals run that Linden will forever be associated with.
I'm not completely sure about that, but no doubt Wednesday will be a magical night. Follow that up with the 2010 Olympics and god willing another long playoff run sometime soon, and GM Place goes from just another heartless, cookie cutter arena to a grand home of hockey.
A note about Linden: Fans from other teams do not and probably can not understand just how important this hockey player, correct that, this man, is to British Columbians.
Trevor Linden is far more than just a hockey player who bled the Canucks many colors over the years. He is far more than just inspirational community leader. He is the epitome of class in all of sport. He is the person we all want to be. He is the person we want our children to be.
To say he is larger than life here in BC is no understatement. He will be revered here forever, both on and off the ice.
And, best of all, he will be forever a Canuck.