Can you say Mr. Canuck Trevor Linden?

BARRY MACDONALD -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

The statistics don't lie.

How often have you heard that suggestion with reference to some overpaid, underachieving professional sports athlete?

Quite often there is some truth to it. But it is far to easy to dismiss someone as an unmitigated flop by merely looking at the numbers, both on the pay cheque, and on the stat sheets.

Case in point: Trevor Linden.

This, folks, is the Canucks' all-time leading scorer. He has six 30-goal seasons on his resume. He figures prominently in any discussion about the greatest Canuck ever.

But the measures of Linden's contributions were never merely about goals, assists and points. They still haven't added a statistical column for what has been a Linden constant since he arrived in this city 17 years ago. Intangibles.

I can hear the poolies screaming now, suggesting I shove the intangibles in a place where the sun is only a rumour. Linden has three points in 22 games, which leaves him one up on Lee Goren, but Goren has a game in hand.

To the more knowledgeable hockey fanatics out there, this is not a bulletin. Linden's goal scoring days are probably in the rear-view mirror.

Which brings us to whether the Canucks are getting enough bang for their buck.

Linden's annual compensation is a far cry from what it used to be, but it still has two commas on it. He is earning $1.5 million this season, and he would be the first to tell you that it's great work if you can get it.

He would also tell you that he is disappointed in his offensive production this year, which is Trevor's way of looking in the mirror.

Could he have more than three points with more offensively skilled linemates? Absolutely. Is 10 minutes per game enough to rack up more points? No. Does he complain? Not a chance.

This is not a man to hide behind excuses, valid as they may be.

The reality for Canuck fans is that the bulk of his 1.5 million will be earned in the playoffs, when Linden has always played his best hockey.

In his first eight seasons with Vancouver, the Canucks made the playoffs seven times. In 79 games over that span, Linden had 80 points.

By the age of 24, he had carved out a reputation as a money player, one of those guys that somehow elevate his play when the games matter most.

You either have it, or you don't and Trevor does.

Or is it done? The games that matter are down the road, but do not bet on Linden having a limited role when the fun starts in April.

When Marc Crawford needs leadership, he'll know where to turn. When he needs a presence on the ice, that calming influence most athletes would kill for, Crow will know. Need a faceoff won, a shot blocked, a puck moved out of the zone? Watch for Linden and appreciate him for what he has become, not what he was. Just don't take him too high in your playoff pool.


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