They’ve both been lightning rods for discussion in this city, but there was no disputing the effort and execution of Trevor Linden and Markus Naslund in Sunday’s 6-2 win over the Calgary Flames.
Linden’s two-goal performance led to a first star selection, giving the Vancouver faithful one last chance to pay tribute to the most popular player in franchise history for his current play, not his past. And though Naslund has taken more criticism than shots this season, his game-tying goal with time winding down in the first period gave the locals the much-needed lift that is expected of a leader in crucial situations.
This isn’t to rehash the recurring leadership debate that follows the Canucks around like a cheap cologne, because for one night there was no debate. The leaders led, and their teammates followed them to victory. However, it will quickly be forgotten if the Canucks don’t carry that momentum into tonight’s clash with Colorado.
Vancouver still has some work to do to secure a playoff spot, and it doesn’t include being the punch line in this evening’s April Fool’s affair at the Garage.
• It’s hard to believe there are people who think giving Wally Buono a contract extension is a bad idea. That faction actually subscribes to the notion that Buono has underachieved as Lions’ GM and head coach because B.C. has only cashed in with one Grey Cup during Buono’s first five years.
Those people seem to have forgotten that before Buono arrived, from 1988 to 2002, the Lions won the West Division once and hosted exactly one playoff game. Since Buono relocated to this side of the Rockies, the Leos have won four division titles and hosted the same number of Western Finals.
This team is a legitimate title contender every season, and Buono has helped breathe life back into professional football in this province when it looked like it was flat-lining just a few years ago. If that doesn’t deserve a contract extension, then I don’t know what does.
• If you ever get the chance to attend Opening Day for a major league team, jump at the opportunity. I made the trip down the I-5 to Seattle yesterday to watch the Mariners open up against the Texas Rangers, and it was well worth braving the border.
The atmosphere on Opening Day is more carnival than competitive, the stadium is packed and everyone leaves with a smile no matter what the scoreboard says at the end of the game.
• Want to weigh in? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Veterans step up for Canucks
They’ve both been lightning rods for discussion in this city, but therewas no disputing the effort and execution of Trevor Linden and MarkusNaslund in Sunday’s 6-2 win over the Calgary Flames.