With the NHL regular season shut down, there’s a pause in any news about the Vancouver Canucks. Will there be a Stanley Cup Playoffs? If so, would the Canucks make it? What trades and signings are up in the air?
Because there’s not much active news emerging about the team, I thought it might be good to write some posts about the history of Canadian teams. Although I have my favorite Canadian-based teams (I grew to love hockey as a professor at the University of Alberta when I lived in Edmonton – so I love the Oilers, and I get to watch a young and exciting Vancouver Canucks team that – this season – has exceeded expectations), I support all of Canada’s teams.
As a result, every day for the next while, I will be writing a post outlining some of the great players throughout the history of these Canadian-based teams.
In this post, I want to share my own list about who I believe are the top three Canucks’ forwards of all time.
First Place: Henrik Sedin
The 1999 NHL Entry Draft was a strange one and, although I was not that big a fan of Brian Burke as a general manager – I like him better as a hockey commentator, I have to admit that I believe his work coming into the 1999 Draft is the stuff of history.
Specifically, two twin brothers were highly-coveted by all NHL teams. And, as general manager of the team, Burke’s hard work to get the Sedin brothers at number two and number three set up the Canucks team for more many seasons. As a result of that draft and the fact that the Sedin twins came to Vancouver, there’s no surprise in my choices. I believe the Sedin twins were the two best forwards the team has ever iced.
Henrik was chosen before his brother Daniel in the draft. Henrik added much to the team; he became the Canucks’ captain before the 2010-11 season when Roberto Luongo (who was oddly one of the only goalies ever to become a team captain) was allowed to just become only a player again. I have to believe Luongo felt a huge sense of relief when Henrik took over the captaincy.
Henrik won the Art Ross and the Hart Trophy in 2010. He played more games than anyone else in Canucks history and is the all-time leading scorer for the Canucks with 1070 points. During the 2009-10 season, he set the Canucks’ single-season scoring record with 112 points.
Thus, Henrik Sedin is my choice #1 for the best Canuck forward of all time.
Second Place: Daniel Sedin
The Canucks are an odd team. I believe it’s almost impossible not to choose both twins together as numbers one and two on any list of all-time best Canucks forwards. Their work in partnership is impossible to ignore. In fact, some would say that Daniel, because he was more of a goal-scoring forward, might even be better than Henrik. But I picked Henrik because of his leadership as well as his play on the ice.
During his NHL career, Daniel was the Canucks’ all-time goal-scoring leader (393) and leads the team both in even-strength goals (255) and power-play goals (138). During the 2010-11 season, Daniel was awarded the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s top scorer (104 points) and voted the NHL’s best player by his peers (the Ted Lindsay Award). Finally, during the team’s Stanley Cup Final run against the Boston Bruins that took them to Game 7, he scored 20 points in 25 playoff games.
It’s tough to separate the brothers and I haven’t. Both will soon represent the Canucks in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Their play together was legendary. They seemed to have a second sense about where each other would be on the ice at all times.
Daniel Sedin is my choice for the second-best Canuck forward of all time.
Third Place: Pavel Bure
Pavel Bure, the “Russian Rocket,” was electrifying. He was drafted by the Canucks in the sixth round (113th overall) of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, but because some NHL’ers believed the team picked Bure a year before he was eligible it was a legal contest before the NHL would allow Bure to become a Canuck.
That legal work delayed Bure’s start with the team until Nov. 3, 1991. Although he began the season late, he still scored 34 goals and 60 points in 69 games and won the Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie. Prior to that season, no other Canucks player or coach had won a single individual NHL award. But that season, Bure won the Calder and head coach Pat Quinn won the Jack Adams Trophy as the NHL’s top coach.
Bure’s career with the Canucks only lasted from 1991-1998, but he excited the Canucks fans like no one else in the team’s history. Only the emergence of Elias Pettersson has created a similar buzz.
Bure’s playoff scoring was outstanding; in 60 playoff games, he scored 34 goals, 32 assists, and 66 points. Bure was also a regular-season goal-scorer, racking up 254 goals, 224 assists, and 478 points in 428 games with the Canuck. He was also the first Canucks player to make the Hockey Hall of Fame. His two straight 60-goal seasons (1992-93 and 1993-94) were his two best career seasons. His 110-point season was the Canucks’ single-season record until Henrik broke it.
Bure had a wonderful career with the Canucks, who retired his jersey in 2013. He’s probably the most talented player ever to wear the Canucks’ jersey and was a “generational” player for the team.
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