Born in 1886 in Hancock, Michigan, Linder played from 1904 through 1920 in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, widely considered America's top hockey league at the time. When he was still in high school he was often recruited to play whenever there was a shortage of professional players.
Not a whole lot is known about Linder. He and Minnesota's Moose Goheen were two early stars in American hockey history. The bigger Goheen is better known and even landed in the Hockey Hall of Fame. But a number of sources (albeit probably with some regional biases) proclaim Linder to be the better of the two.
In February 1941 Esquire Magazine said "any list of the 30 best hockey players the whole world has had would have to include the American born Linder.
In 1914 a Winnipeg reporter was full of praise for Linder in a game played against the Winnipeg Victorias: “Capt. Joe Linder played like a veritable demon. On offense and defense Linder stood out as one of the greatest men I have ever seen on ice.”
The United States Hockey Hall of Fame inducted Linder in 1975, claiming Linder was "a powerful raw-boned, virtually irresistible skater, playmaker, and team leader."