Markus Naslund: The Trevor Linden of the New Generation

(Post by J.J., Chris Golden and Harrison Mooney.)

Even as Markus Naslund’s career in a Vancouver Canucks uniform was winding down – a career that saw him revitalize a moribund franchise, rewrite numerous franchise scoring records, become the longest-serving captain in Canucks history, and spend countless hours in the community – many fans questioned whether or not his jersey #19 was deserving to be raised to the rafters. Whether or not it deserved to hang alongside #12 and #16.

The fact is, many fans have come to compare Naslund’s accomplishments with Trevor Linden’s and Stan Smyl’s. And that’s certainly their prerogative. Naslund was an elite level player – an All-Star, Lester Pearson Trophy winner and Hart Trophy nominee – but was unable to take the Canucks as far into the playoffs as Linden and Smyl did. Linden and Smyl played with as much as grit as skill. Fair or not, Naslund was known more for his skill and finesse than anything else.

Because of these differences, however, it’s perhaps more appropriate to compare how they connected with Canucks fans. We can debate and dispute stats and playoff runs all we want, but there’s one thing that we may all be able to agree on – that Naslund connected with Canucks fans who grew up watching the team in the post-Messier era as much as Linden and Smyl did in their respective eras.


Having grown up in Vancouver, I’ve been a diehard fan of the Canucks since Chris’ birthday plus one. But there’s something about kids from Alberta that I remember the most. I’ve cheered for an average guy from Glendon, Alberta who went by the name “Steamer.” I also hollered “HAR-OLLLLLLD” in the hope that the best ‘stache this side of the Rockies hailing from Edmonton would lay out to block a slapper. But it was a young kid from Medicine Hat that I first felt truly connected to.

Harold & Stan were already well into their own careers and I liked them because those were the players my Dad thought were the best. Yet, it wasn’t until 1988 when this 18 year old kid named Trevor first donned a Canucks jersey that I truly became excited about the team. He was skilled, yet understood the importance of a blue collar work ethic (as Jim Robson once said “who will play, you know he’ll play, he will play on crutches”). He was exciting to watch and wore his emotions on his sleeve.

But it wasn’t just how he performed on the ice that had me enamoured (I’m a confident guy, I can admit that). He may have been from Alberta, but he found his home here on the West Coast of British Columbia. He was the first face of Canucks Place, the player I remember seeing down in the caverns of the Pacific Coliseum talking to the fans, and the player who you’d walk into the most while around town. Some of the darkest days as a Canucks fan were when “he who shall not be named” traded Trevor away and some of the brightest days were after he came back.

And if there were ever an indication that the team got it right when they raised number 16 to the rafters, it’d have to be this – he was always the player that my friends and I ever dreamed we wanted to be when we picked up a stick. And I bet he’s still the player younger fans still want to be.


I watched the Trevor Linden jersey retirement ceremony with some emotional distance, as I never quite understood what he was to Vancouver. It’s understandable. In 1994, I was nine; I didn’t understand what my testicles did, either. Linden’s contributions were a bit beyond my comprehension. By the time I was old enough to understand those contributions–the ones that crafted Linden as the greatest Canuck–Markus Naslund was the guy making them. He was the face of the Canucks; the top draw; the best hope; the spiritual and emotional leader. Yes, Markus Naslund was the greatest Canuck I ever personally witnessed.

And it doesn’t matter that he never won a cup; Trevor Linden never won one either. Instead, these guys built their legends on great hockey matched by great work in the community. It’s a model for greatness that started with Trevor Linden; Markus Naslund took it and ran with it, and that’s where I recognized it. We’re all hearing the stories now, about how Naslund passed it to Daniel and Henrik Sedin, and the Canucks are just now reaping the benefits of their great leap forward into a similar role. In that respect, it’s important to recognize who Markus Naslund was: the guy that took Trevor Linden’s example and turned it into a tradition.

Let me put this in a way that you boomers might understand: Markus Naslund is the Trevor Linden of my generation.


Giveaway time!

We here at CHB are partnering with Harrison and the Pass It To Bulis boys to give away a total of four (4) Trevor Linden lithograph prints.

(Print only. Frame not included.)

We are giving away two (2) lithograph prints here on CHB. (PITB is giving away another two (2) prints on their site.) One winner will be drawn from Twitter; another winner will be drawn from the comments section.

1) To enter on Twitter, send the following tweet:

RT/follow or enter a comment to win a Trevor Linden lithograph from @canuckshockey and @passittobulis. #Canucks

2) To enter in the comments section, write which one of Naslund, Linden and Smyl you connected with the most and why.

We’ll draw the winners on Tuesday, December 14th at 7:00 PM so get your entries in before then.

[update: 12/14/2010, 19:24 PM]

And the winners of the Linden lithographs are: @ArcVancouver and Amy N. (@ameecq). Email me with your mailing address at and I’ll send each of you a print.

J.J. Guerrero

Founder and Executive Editor of Canucks Hockey Blog. Proud Canadian, hardcore Canucks fan. I would like nothing more than watching the Canucks win the Stanley Cup. Against the Leafs.

You may also like...

27 Responses

  1. Smyl was before my time here in Vancouver as I only got here in ’91. As a young kid Trevor Linden was a hero to me. I remember watching a finals game at cub camp on a black and white TV the leaders rented for us with the antenna run up the flag pole all of us waving white paper towels. I remember being in the van coming back from another camp and hearing that Trev was coming home, everyone cheered.
    Naslund I remember watching and always thinking “he can pull one out of the fire”. He might have been the more skilled player but, thoughts of him unwarranted or not still bring back bitter feelings of Minnesota in 03 and Calgary on 04. Years that had so much potential that just left me in a terrible mood. He also didn’t stick around post career like Linden. There is no Markus Naslund Fitness Centre, I can’t talk to friends who attended his wedding.
    For his continued connection to the community and the still lingering magic of the summer of 94 I have to say I connected to Trevor Linden more than Markus Naslund. I’ll never forget the most common scoring summary posted at GM place though, “Goal scored by number 19 MARKUS NASLUND with assists to number 44 Todd Bertuzzi and number 7 Brendan Morrison”
    Go Canucks GO

  2. sameer says:

    Linden all the way. I grew up during the ’94 cup run and those are the best memories as a Canuck fan, period. Naslund doesn’t do it for me because his last couple of years here were not very good yet hes was getting paid like a #1 guy, got #1 minutes on the top line but did not meet expectations. It’s hard for me to remember the glory years when the most recent years were not successful.

  3. Yao Wong says:

    Linden definitely. My childhood hero during the 94 run. Grew up as a huge fan and I still have pictures I drew of him.

  4. Yao Wong says:

    Linden definitely. My childhood hero during the 94 run. Grew up as a huge fan and I still have pictures I drew of him.

  5. Kyle says:

    Linden. The guy is a hero in Vancouver and is still giving back to Vancouver even though he has been gone. My Grandma, dad and Mom still love Linden and I met him one time and he was a saint. Linden all the way

  6. Yvonne says:

    Lynden because my son is a fan

  7. Stevengill97 says:

    Linden! The trade was the saddest moment in canucks history after 94 of course

  8. Simon says:

    I connected with Trevor Linden the most because I was crazy about the Vancouver Canucks back when he was the captain and followed every game!

  9. Amy N. says:

    Marcus Naslund because he’s European like me!

  10. Farhan Mohamed says:

    He was leading the team when I was growing up and becoming a fan. He connected with the people of Vancouver. Would not have been the same without him.

  11. Tina D. says:

    Trevor Linden because he’s a hunk

  12. Dawn says:

    Linden was and still is an inspiration to me! He made me smile bigger than i had in over 2 years, 6 weeks after I had a very difficult shoulder surgery and found out that I’m a high candidate to have osteoarthristis and osteoperosis at a very young age, I’m only 29. When I see him around town, he always gives me a nice smile and doesnt act like he is a Vancovuer celebrity! He’s a kind, humble, giving and honest man and he deserves more than what we have given him! Canucksgurl16

  13. Andrew Hill says:

    Love them both, they both had a hand in shaping our team into what it is today! But if I had to choose, Linden

  14. Richard Loat says:

    I connected with Naslund only because I wasn’t a fan at the time of Linden. I’ll never be able to relate to him and understand the love this city has for him. I respect him for all he’s done, but the passion this city has for him is something you only get from having lived through his time and what he did for this team.

  15. Mumta says:

    Linden, because he’s my Dad’s favorite Canuck. =)

  16. Naslund because i was just a we little boy during Linden’s day, and when i would watch every game with my dad in the early 2000’s naslund’s skill would just blow my mind! that wrist shot from the circle was a pure snipe show! no goalie could stop him or the west coast express! SO honored to see #19 up beside #16 and #12 all great guys and great players!

  17. Mayor Quimby says:

    Trevor Linden is, was and always will be my favorite player. My kids now always ask for and wear #16. To them it is because their Dad wears it but they know I always wear #16 because Trevor did. No one epitomizes the Vancouver Canucks like he does and he was a class act on and off the ice. He may not have won a cup in Vancouver, but he came as close as you possibly can. Game 7 in 1994, must win, do or die and Trevor, beat up beyond belief, still scored two goals.

  18. bc says:

    hard to pick just one, since I’ve been a fan since the Canucks’ first NHL season, but I’ll go with Smyl since he was a member of the team on its first run for the Cup.

  19. Phy says:

    Trevor Linden, because my best girlfriend was obsessed with him and couldn’t stop talking about him.

  20. Kathy says:

    I’m from the older generation and Linden was all I ever heard about at home as my father and my brother watched all the Canucks games when I was growing up. The 1994 Stanley Cup Finals was very exciting and I was caught up in Cup fever as well.

  21. Martina says:

    For me, it’s always been Linden. When he became a Canuck, I became a Canucks fan. It might have been because I thought he was cute way back then. But as I grew and he grew, I was inspired by his ethics on and off the ice.

  22. Mica Knibbs says:

    Always Linden… nobody except maybe Stevie Y. has better exemplified the best of hockey and what it means to be a Canadian hockey fan!

  23. Megan Harris says:

    Linden is one of the greatest players to have ever played, thankfully for the Vancouver Canucks. So much talent! He did amazing things for the team and for the league. One of my top favs, hands down.

  24. Carlz says:

    Ive loved Linden since I was 5 cried when he got traded and cried when he came back .. he is captain canuck and always will be !!

  25. John says:

    I’d have to say Linden. I was a teenager during the ’94 run, when I really became a hardcore fan of the Canucks, and Linden was the motor to that team. Remembering the way he played in game 7 of the finals is truly inspiring.

  26. Carlos Silva says:

    Thanks for the print! Looking forward to hanging it in the office!

  27. Dawn says:

    *bites tongue*

%d bloggers like this: