Trevor Linden has parlayed a stellar hockey career into an increasingly successful turn as a real estate developer and business mogul. Can the NHL front offices be far behind?
Trevor Linden stares into a freshly excavated hole filled with brown slurry on the corner of Herald and Government in Victoria’s Chinatown, a quizzical look on his face. Now a scrum of construction workers, foremen and architects gathers around the ex-Canucks icon. As they discuss how to stem the flow of groundwater into this crater so that foundation work on 601 Herald, the 27-unit condo complex slated to rise from this pit, can continue, Linden looks as comfortable with shoes in dirt and blueprints in hand as he did with a hockey stick in his mitts. After all, the man knows a thing or two about holes: as one of the most popular athletes Vancouver has ever known and captain of the perennially promising but often underachieving Canucks, number 16 more than once pondered the best way out of a deep, dark one. Nearly two years after his retirement, his poise on and off the ice still endears him to fans, and now, with his skate blades showing rust, he’s bringing a similar poise to the second phase of his life.
His meeting at the construction site complete, the 40-year-old leads me down the block to a trendy café tucked inside one of the neighbouring red-brick heritage buildings so we can talk. The heads of the lunchtime crowd swivel as we grab a table along the wall and Linden slings his black leather jacket on the back of the chair. His thick, curly dark brown hair is slightly salted at the temples, a quality that a mother would generously say gives her son a dignified look. Immediately, Linden is laid-back and conversational, without the slightest hint of the prima donna pro athlete. In fact the impression is exactly the opposite, one of humility instead of hubris.
As he reflects on his retirement from sports and entry into the world of business – as real estate developer, product pitchman and now, with his new Club 16 Trevor Linden Fitness facility in Coquitlam, health-club guru – the experience he shares sounds almost like a rebirth or a high-school grad flipping through a university calendar, albeit one with the resources and opportunities of a multimillionaire.
“For me hockey was really all I knew from the time I was five years old,” Linden says, as he sips a cappuccino. “When I stopped playing, I had to really think about what I was and what I wanted to do.”
Leaving Vancouver after his tenure with the Canucks wasn’t an option. His wife, Cristina, owns Basquiat, a fashion boutique in Yaletown. And although born and raised in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Linden – the middle of three sons – is now deeply rooted on the West Coast through friends, business deals and the proximity to the outdoors. The only question was, What would he do here in B.C.?