Tough competition fuels hockey, life, says Captain Canuck

ROBERT KOOPMANS / Kamloops Daily News
January 27, 2011 01:00 AM

One of the greatest Vancouver Canucks players and recipient of the Order of Canada, Trevor Linden speaks during Wednesday evening's Canadian Home Builders Association Central Interior monthly dinner meeting at the Kamloops Convention Centre.

Retiring from professional hockey was not as hard as many might think, "Captain Canuck" Trevor Linden told an enthusiastic Kamloops crowd Wednesday.

Linden said he knew it was time to leave the game after 20 years when younger players on his team started telling him he was "their mom's favourite player."

He said in his last season with the Canucks, he realized the game had changed dramatically since he started to play in 1988, from the wages and perks to the quality of the players.

Why did hockey change so much? Competition, Linden said.

"(Competition) rules everything we do in sport, and for that matter, everything we do in life," he said.

Several hundred people jammed every available seat in one of the Kamloops Convention Centre's ballrooms to hear the popular former Canuck talk about his life in hockey, and what he's been doing since.

Linden retired from the Canucks in 2008 after 19 years in the NHL. He was seen by many as one of the classiest players in the league, both on and off the ice. He was the first Canuck to score more than 300 goals.

In December 2010, Linden was awarded with the Order of Canada. He was cited "for his ongoing sportsmanship and community engagement as a respected leader both on and off the ice."â

After his retirement from hockey, Linden launched a career in real estate development. He is soon to build his third project, a townhomes complex in Kitsilano.

Linden spoke to the crowd of about 650 Canadian Home Buiders Association members about motivation, teamwork and setting goals.

His first season out of hockey was difficult, as his lifelong dream and goal of playing hockey was behind him. Linden said he had to figure out new goals and objectives.

He also talked broadly about leadership and the importance of "digging deep" when things gets tough.

Linden sprinkled anecdotes through his speech about his playing days, including the 2004 and 2005 negotiations between team owners and players.

"We were trying to find solutions to complex problems. No matter what decisions we made, we realized some people would never be happy about it," Linden said.

"One of the biggest challenges we faced was simply trying to get our own people to agree on what kind of deal would be acceptable."

He said that experience taught him being a leader is sometimes lonely.

"Doing what is in the best interest of your group will always garner respect," he said.

After his speech, Linden fielded questions from the crowd and signed autographs for fans, many of who were clad in Canucks jerseys bearing Linden's name.

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