On meeting Trevor Linden:

A longtime fan tells what it was like to meet his hockey idol

By Dave Brochu

It was a packed arena the morning of Friday, April 26, 2013, the last morning of the Minerals North Conference in Terrace, and an air of anticipation surrounded the throng of business executives seated before a well-lit podium at the centre.

The security was tight beforehand and no unauthorized personnel were allowed past a specific checkpoint until the 8:30 a.m. deadline, making the expectations even more heightened and excitement even more palpable. Once the signal was given, I entered the arena and found a seat just right of center in the front row. With a number of well-dressed dignitaries seated around, it gave me the feeling that I was extremely underdressed for the occasion.

I was wearing black suit pants with a white dress shirt and had The Terrace Standard press pass visible,  but there was still the uncomfortable feeling of not being in place. This feeling was exacerbated the moment Mayor Dave Pernarowski strolled by me, a happy expression on his face.

The sound check and lighting crew tested the various lights and instruments, making last minute preparations for usage. It was at this point I caught a glimpse of a silver-haired, lanky, tall individual behind the projection screen on the right of me and I knew instantly it was the 20-year NHL veteran himself, the immortalized Trevor Linden.

He was dressed in a slate-grey suit jacket worn over an ebony colored dress shirt, the silver buttons shining in the light like little fireflies and he was engaged in deep conversation with a number of important-looking individuals gesturing towards the stage nearby.

Finally the time came when a gentleman came to the microphone and welcomed everyone to the conference and introduced the two main instigators of the conference, Valard and the Lakelse Financial Group. And then, the man everyone came to see went to the microphone and motioned to the projection screen describing his 20-year hockey career. As the first screen image appeared, a change occurred in his voice as the recollections dawned on him with the memories flooding the screen.

There was a genuine longing for times past in his eyes as he spoke of his life for about an hour and fifteen minutes.

We, the audience, were completely enraptured in the heroic tales of this great man and felt the honour of being in his presence, and at times I relived the emotions of my childhood, revering this hockey hero in his playing days.

At the end of his speech, Trevor alluded to the importance of teamwork and planning that was involved with the mining industry, as it was with his playing career and in business during his retirement from the NHL.

When he finished, there was a massive roar of applause from the crowd and he exited the stage to the right. I stood up from my seat and followed the throng of people towards where Trevor was standing behind the projection screen in front of a navy blue curtain and waited for my turn to speak with him. The first person that he had pictures with, and met, was a young child in a wheelchair. It was a very moving scene.

When my turn finally came, I introduced myself and explained that I was a representative of the Terrace Standard and he looked at me and said matter of factly, “I’ll speak with you people afterwards,” which gave me the inclination that he dealt with the media differently than the general public. It was rather humourous when I thought about it in retrospect, considering what he must have gone through when he was a player and the futility that the city of Vancouver has had trying to win even one championship.

When it came time for his acceptance of the media, he did an interview with a reporter and a camera crew.  His demeanour switched from a carefree, open individual to calculated and professional—but still with that genuine, honest air about him.

I stood in awe during the five minutes he was interviewed and reflected on how lucky I was to be standing there in this man’s presence. He finished and gestured to me that it was my turn.

I walked up to him and shook his hand explaining that I was only a one time representative of the Standard and he smiled and said that if that was the case, he could have spoken to me earlier.

I told him that it was a concerted part on Terrace and District Community Services Society with Evan van Dyk and City of Terrace councillor Brian Downie that I was able to be there in this particular capacity. I told him that I did not mind waiting and asked him one question about the importance of supporting local charities and he commented that pertaining to his personal belief, it was a good thing to support all types of charities but it depended on which ones were available in your particular community.

After I asked for his autograph, I thanked him and exited the arena at a brisk pace, all the while thinking that this was a time in my life I was extremely grateful for and will always fondly remember.

 

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