A History of Canuck-related Memes and Running Jokes

Memes might seem like low-brow fare for hockey writing, but they have quickly become a vital and irreplaceable aspect of our culture; on par with movies, music, and video games. Social media and sports have been intimately linked for over a decade now, and fans around the sporting world have been able to watch their fanbases evolve through message boards, subreddits, and (shudder) Facebook comments. Fans of the Vancouver Canucks are no different. Here’s a look at some of the best memes or running jokes from Canuck history. The eras are very loosely organized, so try not to be a stickler for that.

Pre-2000s:

Roger Neilson’s White Towel- The symbol of complaining about the refs that started it all.

 

Pavel Bure in Rollerblades- In the days before social media, memes had a tougher time getting off the ground, but this stellar hockey card definitely made the rounds on some early message boards.

 

Mark Messier Hate- Not a lot of Vancouver fans will know this, but the Canucks used to have a player on the team named Mark Messier. Despite not really making an impression elsewhere in the league, Messier became renowned in Vancouver as the most hated player in team history.

Tommy Larscheid Gaffes- Larscheid is lucky that he broadcast in the days before the internet, because he had plenty of quotables that would have went instantly viral. Tommy didn’t always choose his words as carefully as he could have. Classics include “I just came from the Canucks dressing room and Pavel’s groin has never felt better,” and “Bure is such a great talent, if only he could play with himself out there, it will really give the fans a show.” He must have seen the rollerblade pic.

The Pauser- A rare example of a non-internet-based meme, The Pauser was a legendarily bitter caller who frequented Vancouver sports radio. Sadly, the man passed away in 2009.

Outrageous Team Photos- The Canucks used to make a real effort for team photos, often employing themes and costumes. The one linked below hung in my preferred barbershop for years before I finally noticed the Canuck logo in the background and figured out what it was.

 

The Naslund Era:

Drive Him to the Airport- Newer fans of the team may be surprised to know that the Canucks were once run by current Sonic the Hedgehog cosplayer Brian Burke. The always boisterous Burke had some great sound bites during his time in Vancouver, but his most oft-repeated was his promise to drive Trent Klatt to the airport himself if Klatt could get a better offer from another team. Klatt did, and Burke did not drive him. Hypocrite.

 

Trade the Sedins for Lecavalier- Anyone who spent time on CDC, or the Canucks.com message boards, back in the day will remember the frequent calls to trade both Sedin “sisters” to the Tampa Bay Lightning for one Vincent Lecavalier. Then again, anyone who spent time on CDC back in the day probably doesn’t have enough brain cells left to read this paragraph.

Mark Messier and His Unpopularity- Despite not actually playing for the Canucks during this era, one-time Canuck center Mark Messier continued to be viewed less-than-complimentary by fans. Among his most frequently decried flaws was a habit of offering everyone potato chips and then demanding they immediately enter into an illegal wager with him.

Ruutu Tripping Phaneuf- The GIF that keeps on giving. Watching Jarkko give Dion the business will never not be funny.

 

Dan Cloutier and the Beachball- Poor Dan Cloutier. The Canucks’ current goalie coach was once the team’s starter, and although he generally put up above-average numbers, he was never able to get it done in the playoffs. This led to (somewhat) unfair photoshops like the one below.

 

Chubarov’s Car- Artem Chubarov was once a promising young center for the Canucks before he up and left for Russia. He left so quickly, in fact, that his car was tragically abandoned in the parking lot of GM Place, where some say it remains to this day.

Ink Operated “The Playoff Push”- Of countless Canuck-tribute songs, this is undoubtedly the very best.

 

Sopel’s Cracker- Brent Sopel was almost a meme all by himself, with his dopey smile, long, greasy hair and frequent defensive gaffes that would make Luca Sbisa look like Nicklas Lidstrom. However, Sopel’s place in Canuck humour history was solidified when he injured his back picking up a cracker and was placed on the IR. That’s not a euphemism, by the way, it was an actual cracker. Why the Canucks made this information public, I’ll never understand.

Cowan the Brabarian- Legendary punching bag Jeff Cowan went on an unprecedented scoring tear for the Canucks in 2006, netting six goals in four games. At one point, somebody threw a bra on the ice, and a ridiculous nickname was born.

 

Ridiculous Sedin Line Names- Brothers Line, Mattress Line, etc- For awhile there, it seemed like everyone was trying their hardest to coin a permanent name for the Sedin brothers’ line. Unfortunately, they didn’t keep one linemate around long enough for a name to stick. Notable examples include the slight racist “Brothers Line” with Anson Carter (two brothers and a “brotha”) and the much punnier “Mattress Line” with Jason King (two twins and a King). We just started calling it “The Sedin Line” right around the time they started winning Hart Trophies and such.

Vote for Rory- Easily the most successful running joke in Canucks’ history was the campaign to put Rory Fitzpatrick in the All-Star Game. Although the league cruelly ended the joke themselves by barring Fitzpatrick from the game, the campaign did produce some gems like the attack ad below.

 

The Sedin Era:

Coconuts Glow- “Go Canucks Go” sounds a lot like “Coconuts Glow” to some. That is all.

This- Don’t judge us. It was a different time.

 

Ballard, Raymond, and a 2nd Fans who frequent message boards so frequently saw Vancouver trade proposals revolving around this package that it became a running joke to offer it to fans of other teams. Eventually, all of these pieces just sort of drifted off anyway.

Story of Bieksa Beating Up Fedorov-If there is one anecdote that every Canuck fan should know, it’s the tale of brand new rookie pro Kevin Bieksa one-punching Fedor Fedorov at a bar and receiving a contract offer from Brian Burke the next day.

“Give Your Balls a Tug/Tell Kelly I Said Hi”- The current veterans and former veterans of the Vancouver Canucks are getting long in the tooth, but they used to be noticeably kiddish. Never was that more apparent than when Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler taunted David Backes about his wife, Kelly, and whether or not his balls needed to be tugged.

Sami Salo’s Balls of Steel- Speaking of balls, the hilariously oft-injured Sami Salo once took a slapshot to the nards. (Thankfully false) rumours spread that Salo had “popped one,” which led fans to chant “BALLS OF STEEL” upon Salo’s return. That must have really confused a few casual fans.

Tumbling Kesler- We’re entering into the GIF-era of Canuck-memedom. This one had some real versatility.

 

The Guzzler- Kevin Bieksa was another Canuck that always entertained the media. Along with his long-running bromance with Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy, “Juice” once gave an interview while posing as Ryan Kesler. Most notable was his self-applied nickname of “Guzzler.”

 

Kesler Photobombing- It definitely appears that Ryan Kesler was the dankest Canuck in team history. In addition to everything else, his “photobombing” of various interviews was always a delight.

 

Sedin GIFS- Alright, time for more GIFs. This time, freaky twin synergy is on display.

 

Kassian GIFs- Zack Kassian was so GIF-worthy that he got his own subreddit.

 

Vigneault GIFs- Alain Vigneault is arguably the best coach in Canucks’ history, but he’s inarguably the best at inspiring hilarious GIFs.

 

Kyle Wellwood: Man Possessed- Speaking of Vigneault and his risibility, nothing beats his reaction to the notion that Kyle Wellwood was playing like “a man possessed.”

 

Fuck Messier- Okay, enough sarcasm. Fuck Messier. Whether he’s handing out the leadership award he named after himself or harassing Connor McDavid, Messier is as hateable as he’s ever been.

Burrows? Do We Really Need Him?- There’s a bit of backstory here. A poster on CDC once started a Burrows-bashing thread that earned him some well-deserved ridicule, especially when Burrows responded with a hat-trick the next game. The real funny part comes from the fact that the same poster continued to stick to his guns and insist Burrows didn’t belong in the NHL right up to and including the era that Burrows was a 30+ goal scorer.

http://forum.canucks.com/topic/211587-burrows-do-we-really-need-him/

 

Hansen the Honey Badger- I’m honestly not exactly sure how this started, but everyone seems to agree that Hansen and honey badgers have a lot in common.

 Schneider’s Impression of Hansen- Corey Schneider can also make it appear like he has a lot in common with Jannik Hansen, via an excellent impersonation.

 

Top Sixtito- One of the greatest nicknames in recent Canuck history, Top Sixtito has migrated to the Pittsburgh Penguins fanbase, which shows it has staying power.

John Garrett and Food, Yes- John Garrett has a shtick, and he sticks to it. If he’s not talking about the wonders of Kraft Dinner or ketchup, he’s replying to John Shorthouse’s question with a “yes” or maybe two.

Pyatt’s Eyes- The picture here really speaks for itself.

 

Lack’s Tacos- For some reason, Eddie Lack’s love of tacos became a meme. I don’t think it should have, though. Who doesn’t love tacos?

Riot Photos- Ah, the riot of 2011. The embarrassment faded, but the hilarious pictures remained.

 

 

Blueberry Pickers- This one isn’t even really a joke. The Acquilinis do, in fact, do business in blueberries. However, derisively calling someone a blueberry picker is just plain fun.

Real Good- Likewise, whether you like Willie Desjardins or not, his propensity to describe nearly everything as “real good” is just asking to be made fun of. It’s our version of Mr. Mackie’s “mmm-kay.”

Bo Horvat’s Head Shape- Finally, we reach the edge, where social media memery meets hardcore advanced analysis. The reddit post analyzing Bo Horvat’s headshape may have started out as a joke, but it soon unquestionably proved that Horvat is, indeed, the chosen one.

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Weekly Canucks Report: Week of Oct 24-30

Weekly Canucks Report: Week of Oct 24-30

Who Had a Good Week:

Troy Stecher- What more can be said about Troy Stecher that hasn’t already been said? He quite simply looks like yet another defenseman who has stepped out of the NCAA ready to play in the NHL. The sheer amount of skill on display makes it hard to believe it’s only beginner’s luck. 

Brendan Gaunce- Despite most of his pro experience coming on the wing, Gaunce seems to have settled nicely into a 4th-line center role. His defensive game is noticeable in its efficiency, and he’s providing safer minutes than a lot of previous 4th-line centers have.

Erik Gudbranson- Gudbranson has come as advertised, a physical and defensively sound defenseman with limited offensive upside. Canucks fans were warned about Gudbranson’s poor analytics, but so far he’s been able to provide effective minutes. His whooping of Zack Kassian should make him an instant fan favourite. 

Bo Horvat- The Horvat era may be beginning sooner than expected. Bo took over the team’s goal-scoring lead with his fourth of the year, and he continues to get better with every game. Horvat seems to be well on his way to becoming one of the premier two-way centers in the league.

Jannik Hansen- Hansen doesn’t get enough credit for what he does for the team. The Granlund and Sutter line looked worse when Hansen was removed, and the Sedins looked better with Hansen on their wing.

 

Who Had a Rough Week:

Alex Edler- After getting praise for his newly aggressive play last week, the wheels fell off for Edler this week. With regular partner Chris Tanev out, Edler’s defensive game greatly suffered. Edler’s new partner, Stecher, played great, so it’s Edler’s failure to adapt that is to blame.

Loui Eriksson- Eriksson is starting to get a taste of the fickle Vancouver fanbase, with some of the dumber fans on the internet already calling for his departure. After coming in as one of the most hyped free agent signings in recent history, Eriksson has gone nine games without a goal, unless you count the one he put in his own net. At the very least, Eriksson still looks fairly dangerous out there, unlike Radim Vrbata last year, but the goals are going to need to come soon.

Jake Virtanen- What is going on with Jake Virtanen? He looks completely lost on the ice, despite picking up some minutes with the dynamic Horvat and Baertschi duo. Especially disappointing given how effective Nick Ritchie was against Vancouver. 

Nikita Tryamkin- This was a terrible week for Tryamkin, and once again it had nothing to do with events on the ice. The truth of Tryamkin’s absence from the lineup finally came out, and it didn’t reflect very well on the young Russian. Not only did Tryamkin come to camp out of shape, he’s currently refusing a conditioning assignment to the AHL. He’ll now have to practice his way into shape under the intense local media glare. Good luck, Nikita.

The Sedins- As the team’s premier players and on-ice leaders, the Sedins need to take some of the heat for the Canucks’ dismal offense. They aren’t playing poorly, except by their own standards, but it seems like the expected uptick in production from the twins is not going to occur. Even worse, Daniel’s chances of hitting 1000 points this season may be in jeopardy.

Willie Desjardins- When the whole roster’s production is suffering, most of the attention is squarely focused on the head coach. Desjardins already came into the season on the hot seat thanks to Travis Green’s situation, and the writing is on the wall for him if the offense doesn’t pick up.

 

Roster Talk:

Troy Stecher’s performance has created an interesting dilemma when it comes to defense. If Stecher keeps playing at this level, it will be next to impossible to demote him. That leaves the team with nine defensemen when Tanev returns. If the team waives Alex Biega, it then absolutely needs Luca Sbisa to stay healthy so they meet expansion requirements. Even then, Stecher taking a place in the lineup would mean that one of Sbisa or Philip Larsen would need to come out of the lineup, and both have played well. It also further complicates the Tryamkin situation, as he slides further down the depth chart.

Jayson Megna was pretty much invisible in his two games, and it is safe to say he won’t be the call-up next time there is an injury. Mike Zalewski played much better in his one game. Michael Chaput and Borna Rendulic are also possibilities for a promotion.

The Canucks passed on some interesting waiver options again this week, including a second crack at Teemu Pulkkinen. Given that the rest of the league passed, too, it’s hard to worry much about the missed opportunity.

The team has been worryingly quiet about Anton Rodin’s injury timeline, and there’s legitimate concern that he rushed his previous rehabilitation. He could be the offensive spark the Canucks need, but how long will they have to wait for it?

 

Schadenfreude Section:

Chicago’s Penalty Killing was nearly at a historic low to start the season. While their PK percentage has finally crept back up to 50%, the Blackhawks were giving up almost three goals for every four power plays for awhile there. 

Despite Don Cherry anointing Brian Elliott as the best goaltender in the world, Calgary’s goaltending remains every bit the problem it was last year. Elliott currently sits below a .900 save percentage and, combined with Arizona’s continued goaltending woes and LA’s injury woes, it means that the Canucks suddenly have among the best goaltending in the division, despite their record.

 

Comets Report:

The Comets continue to see individual players find success while the team falls short, although they did manage to pull off a narrow victory to close the week. Utica started things off on Wednesday with a match against the Binghamton Senators to mirror the two parent clubs facing each other. Like the Canucks, the Comets put up little resistance in a 2-1 loss. Captain Carter Bancks got the lone goal and Michael Chaput extended his point streak to five with an assist. Richard Bachman was in net for the loss.

Thatcher Demko got his chance Friday against the Providence Bruins, but recorded a 4-2 loss. Demko is still winless at the AHL level. Chaput’s point streak continued with another assist, and one has to think he’s angled himself toward an eventual call-up. Derek Hulak scored and so did Jordan Subban, whose individual totals are on the rise.

Things got even better for Subban with Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Hartford Wolf Pack. Subban got a goal and an assist to bring his total to seven points in six games. It’s nice to see Subban make the most of his opportunity to reclaim the number one defenseman role with Stecher called up. Hulak had a goal, the game-winner, and an assist, and David Shields picked up a surprising two assists. Curtis Valk and Cody Kunyk also scored, while Chaput notched yet another assist to bring his point streak to seven games. Ashton Sautner left the game on a stretcher after falling awkwardly under a check, and was taken to the hospital for precautionary measures. He will likely be out for a bit, but was reportedly alert and responsive.

 

Bits and Bobs:

-The emergence of Troy Stecher brings the total number of “unheralded college defenseman suddenly blossoming into top-four NHL talents” to three in recent Canuck history. This development run of Chris Tanev, Ben Hutton, and Stecher is probably a once-in-a-lifetime thing for a Canuck fan, so make sure to enjoy it.

-After watching the Heritage Classic in Winnipeg, one has to wonder when the Canucks will next take part in an outdoor game. After the Luongo-Tortorella debacle that occurred last time, the franchise might not be champing at the bit to have another.

-One intriguing possibility: The Canucks vs someone in an outdoor game at Notre Dame in 2017/18. Third-party sites might be the reinvigoration of a concept that the NHL is looking for, and Notre Dame is a great candidate. At that point, the Canucks should have both Brock Boeser and Troy Stecher in the lineup, making them a perfect fit.

-For those wondering why the Canucks passed on the opportunity to pick up Emerson Etem again and send him down to Utica, take a look at Utica’s winger depth. Players like Michael Carcone and Marco Roy are already having a tough time getting ice-time, and Jake Virtanen will probably soon be joining them. Etem would just get in the way.

-Thatcher Demko Win Watch continues in Utica. It’s only a matter of time before ill-informed fans turn on him.

-Despite continuing to search for a goal, Sven Baertschi has begun to show a new level of offensive skill. He’s making the sort of creative moves that he just hadn’t been before, which is a good indication that he’s playing with confidence despite still looking for his first goal.

-The errors have crept back into Luca Sbisa’s game after a hot start, but his physical play is the best it has ever been as a Canuck. It is impressive to watch him lay hits on some of the biggest opponents in the West, like Lucic or Reaves.

-Troy Stecher’s performance will definitely help dull some of the pain of seeing Gustav Forsling play important minutes for the Blackhawks.

-The Oilers are going to be a tough team to play against for the foreseeable future. McDavid is one thing, but between Lucic, Kassian, Maroon, and Nurse, they also have one of the tougher lineups in the league.

-That fact made it all the more satisfying to watch Gudbranson get the better of Kassian in a battle of the titans.

-With the emergence of Adam Gaudette, is this the year that the Canucks have two prospects in the running for the Hobey Baker?

-How long until the fan-made graphic showing how close the team is getting to its projected 65 points becomes depressing instead of inspiring?

-To end on a positive note, here are two fantastic images from the week:

Daniel Sedin- Magician:

 

The Flames’ Season in a Nutshell

Weekly Canucks Report: Week of Oct 17-23

Who Had a Good Week:

Granlund, Sutter, Hansen-  Before the season, Canucks fans were just hoping that this line could find a bit of chemistry and form a competent third line. Since being put together, they’ve performed like a solid second line and constantly generate offensive chances.

Philip Larsen- It was nice to see Larsen rewarded with a couple of powerplay points, as he has continually looked good in that role. Larsen gets pucks to the net and is a master of movement along the blueline.

Bo Horvat- No matter who he plays with, Horvat seems to produce. One of the most dangerous Canucks on the ice game in and game out.

Alex Edler- Edler seems more engaged in the play than he has been in recent years. He’s returned a physical element to his game that has been missing.

Sven Baertschi- Baertschi showed this week that you don’t have to put up big numbers to have a good week. Baertschi was held scoreless, but had an offensive impact almost every time he was on the ice. Looking like a permanent top-6 solution.

Jack Skille- One of the few Canucks to give any sort of physical response against Anaheim. Plays like a prototypical fourth liner.

 

Who Had a Rough Week:

Alex Burrows- Even before getting hurt, Burrows seemed like a player on his way out of the lineup. He just hasn’t been able to contribute much on the ice, and has taken a few bad penalties to boot.

Ryan Miller- Miller got hurt, became the subject of trade rumours, and put in a less-than-inspiring performance against Anaheim upon his return. Not the best week of his career, to be sure.

Nikita Tryamkin- Few expected Tryamkin to be sitting at zero games played this far into the season. His size could have been useful against LA or Anaheim. He’ll get a chance soon.

Jake Virtanen- Virtanen has been an absolute non-factor while playing. There is now little doubt that he’ll be headed to Utica upon Anton Rodin’s return.

Loui Eriksson- Eriksson hasn’t looked bad, but the Canucks expect more from him. He briefly lost his spot on the Sedins’ line, but picked up two assists shortly after returning to their wing, so hopefully things are looking up.

 

Roster Talk:

Jake Virtanen’s time with the big club may be coming to an end, but Dorsett’s injury buys him more time. He’ll be a welcome addition to Utica’s top line if he heads down. On defense, Biega sitting is expected, but one would hope that Tryamkin is going to get some more icetime soon.

On the trade front, LA’s goaltending woes have created a buzz around the prospect of trading Ryan Miller there. Miller seems like an ideal target to fill in for the injured Jonathan Quick, as he’s a proven starter whose contract will expire this year. The fact that Miller’s wife is a Hollywood actor doesn’t hurt the chances of this happening, either.

Derek Dorsett’s injury opened up the discussion of who should be the first forward callup. Mike Zalewski is the most versatile option, but Borna Rendulic and Joe LaBate were the most impressive during the preseason.

A couple of interesting options hit the waiver wire on Sunday that could also serve as fill-ins. Ottawa waived Phil Varone, who has a smattering of NHL experience with Buffalo and Ottawa. Much more intriguing, however, was Ben Smith, waived by Colorado, who is a veteran of a few full NHL seasons with Chicago and still only 28. Smith, a right wing, was near a 20-goal pace just three seasons ago, and didn’t look half-bad for the Leafs last year.

 

Comets Report: 

The Comets picked up their first win of the season on Friday against Syracuse, 5-4.Michael Carcone picked up his first professional goal, and Curtis Valk scored his second of the season. Michael Chaput continued his hot play with two points, and Alex Grenier and Jayson Megna also notched a goal and an assist each. Richard Bachman was in net, and gave up four goals on only 23 shots.

Utica followed up with a loss the next night against Rochester, 3-2. Chaput and Derek Hulak scored, and Marco Roy and Mike Zalewski both got their first points of the season. Thatcher Demko remains winless. Joe LaBate picked up 14 penalty minutes including an ejection for a hit to the head.

Perhaps most notable about the second game were the scratches, which included Carcone, Valk, Cole Cassels, Ashton Sautner, and Jordan Subban.

 

Bits and Bobs:

-Brendan Gaunce seems to be adapting well to being placed at center, despite most of his pro experience coming on the wing.

-It definitely would have been nice to see more of a response against Alex Steen’s actions during Tuesday’s game. Not only did he crosscheck Horvat in the ribs, he also ran Markstrom. At least put a glove in his face!

-All around, the Canucks seem to be making a lot more hits of consequence. Their hits seem to be harder in general and disrupt the play more than in recent seasons. Two notable players leading the charge on this are Alex Edler and Derek Dorsett.

-Despite all that hard-hitting action, the Canucks had zero fights through the first four games of the season. Derek Dorsett broke the streak against Kyle Clifford in a lengthy but boring tussle.

-LA’s goaltending woes are reminiscent of the season that saw them dress seven goalies, including Dan Cloutier.

-Speaking of Clouts, one has to wonder if he would have suited up instead of Matt Hewitt had he been in town.

-With the Oilers playing in yet another outdoor game, it would be nice to see the Canucks eventually get another crack at it. Our one pond hockey matchup so far will be forever overshadowed by the Luongo-Tortorella drama that erupted from it.

-Where exactly is Ben Hutton’s ceiling? The last prospect we saw climb the depth chart this quickly and this unexpectedly was Chris Tanev, and Hutton is arguably doing so even faster.

-Brock Boeser picked up a hat trick in one game and two goals in another to bring his total to six goals and 12 points in just five games. He seems to be cruising to the Hobey Baker Award.

-7th rounder Brett McKenzie is also on fire, with 13 points in 10 games for North Bay.

-For those wondering why Alex Biega played forward instead of Nikita Tryamkin, remember that Biega needs 19 games played this year to fulfill requirements as an exposed defenseman in the Expansion Draft. This was an easy opportunity to get Biega a game.

-Tryamkin may get an opportunity if Chris Tanev sits after being shaken up multiple times during the game against Anaheim.

A History of Elite Canucks, and What to Expect Going Forward

With the Canucks in the midst of another development cycle, the question of elite talent has once again been raised. While the Canucks have picked up a bevy of talented young prospects, very few of those prospects are of the “elite” variety. This has led some Canucks fans to fret that the rebuilding process will not be successful unless some more bluechip talent can be obtained.

However, a look at Canucks history paints a different picture. If we look at players from teams past, we can see that elite talent is actually pretty rare when it comes to Vancouver hockey. The Canucks have existed for over 45 years, and the amount of truly elite talent that has played on the team has been quite sparse. Let’s take a look, position by position.

For the purposes of this article, “elite” will mean a player that is in or near the top-ten for their position during any given NHL season. For goalies, that is reduced to top-five.

 

Centers

 Henrik Sedin (Reigned 2006-2013)- No surprises here. Henrik is the greatest player in Canucks history, and had a seven season run as an undisputed elite talent, including a Hart Trophy.

 

Wingers

 Daniel Sedin (Reigned 2006-2013)- Wherever Henrik has gone, Daniel has followed. Daniel may not have reached the highest heights of his twin brother, but he was elite for exactly as long as Henrik was, and picked up an Art Ross.

 Pavel Bure (Reigned 1992-1998)- The most dynamic player in Canucks’ history was a top-ten winger from his sophomore season on. When he wasn’t injured, Bure dominated opponents with an unprecedented blend of skating and scoring prowess, including two 60 goal seasons.

 Markus Naslund (Reigned 2000-2006)- Naslund had an explosive peak where he challenged for the league scoring title, but he remained a top-ten winger for multiple seasons surrounding that peak. Although his prime included the full lockout season, Naslund managed to put up impressive totals throughout.

 Todd Bertuzzi (Reigned 2001-2003)- Naslund and Bertuzzi shared their best years together, but Bertuzzi had a much shorter prime. Bertuzzi’s point totals were already dropping before his attack on Steve Moore, which firmly signalled the end of his status as an elite talent.

Alex Mogilny (Reigned 1995-1998)- Mogilny had a short stint as an elite winger for the Canucks compared to the rest, but his point totals were too ridiculous to not be considered elite. He was a goal-scoring machine for awhile.

 

Defense

 Ed Jovanovski (Reigned 2001-2003)- Jovanovski is the best of Vancouver’s defensive history, but that’s not saying much. Jovocop might not be considered an elite talent by all, but his presence on the 2002 Gold Medal-winning Canadian Olympic Team says otherwise.

 

Goalies

 Roberto Luongo (Reigned 2006-2012)- Luongo is indisputably the greatest goalie in Canucks’ history, and the Canucks were lucky enough to have him throughout his entire prime. Luongo never won the Vezina, but was consistently in the running, and was in contention for the Hart on multiple occasions.

 

Borderline Centers

 Andre Boudrias- Boudrias put up some impressive point totals on some dismal Canucks teams, but never approached the league scoring leaders.

Thomas Gradin- Gradin put up some big seasons for the Canucks, but it was during the 1980s when everyone was scoring. Gradin didn’t come close to any scoring titles.

Trevor Linden- The most inspirational leader in Canuck history never quite had elite talent, but he made the most of what he had. There were no seasons where Linden was a top-ten center, but in 1994 he definitely played better than almost anyone in the playoffs.

Patrik Sundstrom- Came later in the 1980s than the other two centers, but shares a similar story of decent point totals amongst the highest-flying decade of hockey. An extremely skilled player.

 

Borderline Wingers

 Tony Tanti- Like Gradin, Tanti’s point totals look nice, but aren’t that noticeable within the context of the 80s. When people are regularly putting up 100 points, just cracking a point-per-game isn’t elite.

 

Borderline Defense

 Doug Lidster- The current Canucks coach put up the most points in any one season by a Canucks defenseman, but wasn’t considered a top-ten guy.

 Mattias Ohlund- Ohlund had some great seasons, but injuries held him back from being truly elite. He was a top-pairing defenseman, but never a true #1 guy.

 Jyrkki Lumme- Lumme put up some impressive point totals, but there were plenty of contemporary defenders better than him in the league.

 Prime Alex Edler- Before back injuries completely changed his game, Edler could have been considered a borderline elite player, or at least on the way to becoming one. Things have sadly changed since then.

 Christian Ehrhoff- For 2011 and 2011 alone, Ehrhoff was a top-ten defenseman in the league. His synergy with the Sedins was a major part of the Canucks’ trip to the finals.

 

Borderline Goalies

 Kirk McLean- Kirk McLean backstopped the Canucks to the 1994 Finals, and was probably a top-ten goalie for that season and a few surrounding it.

 Richard Brodeur- Brodeur played in an era when there were many superior goalies, but his consistent play helped keep the hapless Canucks in games that they shouldn’t have been in. Also took the team to the Finals in 1982.

 

 Conclusions: In over 45 years of playing hockey, the Vancouver Canucks have only iced eight truly elite players, which averages out to one every five years or so. As well, most of these players have played the easier-to-obtain position of wing, and not the more important roles of center, defense, or goalie. All in all, this should hopefully put a bit of a damper on Canuck fans’ expectations when it comes to drafting and developing multiple elite talents in the next few years.

Weekly Canucks Report: Oct 10-16

Who Had a Good Week:

Brandon Sutter- Sutter looks re-energized after an injury-plagued season, and is already putting his variety of skills on display. Two game-winning goals.

Ryan Miller- Miller played lights out against the Calgary Flames and reminded everyone that he can be a quality starter.

Sedins+Eriksson- This line proved they had instant chemistry with the newest edition of “The Shift.” Own goals aside, this looks like a fantastic top line.

Luca Sbisa and Philip Larsen- The much-maligned Sbisa put in a very respectable couple of games, and his new partner Larsen looked instantly competent on the powerplay. Despite being separated during Game 2, they looked good as a pairing.

Ben Hutton- Hutton’s evolution into a top-tier NHL defenseman continues. It doesn’t look like there will be much of a sophomore slump here. Scored a huge goal.

Bo Horvat- Much was made of Horvat’s “fourth line” assignment, but he once again proved his ability to thrive in any situation. Was quickly “promoted.”

Derek Dorsett- Dorsett provided physicality, energy, and an efficient offensive game. Everything you could ask for in a fourth liner.

Markus Granlund- Some fans complained about Granlund being put into a scoring role, but he definitely didn’t look out of place. Showed some chemistry with Sutter and Hansen.

 

Who Had a Rough Week:

Brendan Gaunce- After a great preseason, Gaunce struggled to make himself noticeable on the ice. He’ll have to get a bit more competitive in order to keep his spot.

Jacob Markstrom- Markstrom is traditionally a slow starter, and that might be the case again this year. Didn’t look great against a weak Carolina offense.

Chris Tanev- If anyone on the defense looked a bit rusty, it was Tanev. Look for his game to improve quickly, though.

Jake Virtanen- Virtanen was given an opportunity to play on a scoring line, but accomplished little. Will need to contribute more in the future.

 

Roster Talk:

As of right now, the Canucks will be one forward over the limit when Anton Rodin returns from injury. That means that one of Brendan Gaunce, Jake Virtanen, or Jack Skille has to go. It will be interesting to see which of them establishes themselves on the roster.

The Canucks may want to keep an eye on the waiver wire, as a few more good players may yet be waived as others return from injury or contract holdouts.

 

Comets Report:

The Comets lost their season opener to Toronto 5-2, with the only goals coming from Curtis Valk and Alex Grenier, with Jordan Subban getting an assist on each. Troy Stecher seemed to immediately establish himself as the number one defender on the team.

For consistency’s sake, the Marlies once again beat the Comets 5-2 on Sunday. This time, Subban picked up two goals and Stecher got his first AHL point. Michael Chaput had two assists. This time, Thatcher Demko made his debut in net to record the loss. New captain Carter Bancks fought Rich Clune, and rookie Michael Carcone fought Rinat Valiev.

 

Bits and Bobs:

-Two penalties in the season opener was a significant total for the rarely-penalized Chris Tanev.

-Alex Edler already appears to be more willing to throw hits this season than in recent years. Perhaps the time off helped his back recover.

-Did anyone else hear Dave Randorf refer to Haida Gwaii as Haida Gwall during the opener’s broadcast? At least he didn’t call them the Queen Charlottes!

-Olli Juolevi is off to a reasonably hot start with the Knights, and has three points in four games.

-Is it just me, or does Carolina have the most anonymous team in the NHL? Half of their roster sounds like fake future draft picks from EA Sports.

-It would have been optimistic and a bit naive to think that Manny Malhotra could have an instant impact on the Canucks’ faceoff woes…but that seems to be the case! Henrik Sedin, Sutter, and Granlund are noticeably improved, and it is hoped that Horvat will soon follow.

Utica Comets 2016/17 Preview

New Arrivals:

Thatcher Demko- The Canucks’ top goalie prospect since Corey Schneider, and arguably their top prospect overall, is expecting to win the job of starter right away.

Troy Stecher- The most pleasant surprise of training camp, Stecher might have already stolen Jordan Subban’s job as top defenseman.

Michael Carcone- Carcone is the most offensively gifted of the incoming forwards, and was very impressive in Penticton and the preseason. Should play a top-6 role.

Yan-Pavel Laplante- Laplante brings an excessive amount of physicality and a bit of a scoring touch, too. His fights are reminiscent of the great Rick Rypien.

Borna Rendulic- Rendulic, the first Croatian-born player to play in the NHL, looked better than expected in the NHL preseason. Might see some call-up time, but is a grinder at every level he plays at.

Chad Billins- A veteran defender who has won the Calder Cup before, and is returning from a successful stint in Sweden. Billins will make a great partner for either Stecher or Subban.

Michael Chaput- Chaput is still fairly young at 24, but has already racked up several good AHL seasons and won a Calder Cup championship last year with Lake Erie. Also a former Memorial Cup MVP. The guy knows how to win!

Jayson Megna- Megna is two years older than Chaput, and has put up similar numbers at the AHL level. However, Megna has more NHL experience, including nearly a half season with Pittsburgh in 2013-14. The two will battle for the top center role all year.

Marco Roy- Roy won a training camp invite with a strong Penticton performance, and played last season in the AHL for Bakersfield with mild success. Will need to fight for ice time amongst Utica’s forward depth.

Tom Nilsson- Nilsson is currently injured and has not partaken in training camp, but he was presumably signed to be a presence in Utica after some seasons interspersed between the Toronto Marlies and the Swedish Elite League.

Derek Hulak- Hulak followed up a long WHL career with a four year stint in the Canadian college circuit for the University of Saskatchewan. Hulak eventually caught on with the Texas Stars, where he’s played the last three seasons. Provides decent offense.

Cody Kunyk- Kunyk is a veteran of four Junior A seasons, four college seasons, one NHL game, one AHL season, and one season in Denmark. In that order. Despite the colourful resume, Kunyk will struggle to even find a spot in the lineup.

 

Team Strengths:

Goaltending is the most notable strength. Thatcher Demko may be the best goalie prospect in hockey, and is expected to dazzle right away. He’s backed up by Richard Bachman, a veteran presence who is more than capable of starting at the AHL level.  Defense should also be a strength, as the somewhat surprising return of Andrey Pedan bolsters an already strong crop of defenders. Troy Stecher and Jordan Subban both offer amazing offensive skill, which is balanced by the presence of Pedan and Chad Billins. Forward depth is another forte of the Comets, as several players with AHL experience will be pushed out of the lineup unless moves are made. There are at least 16 forwards that have recently played regularly at this level.

 

Team Weaknesses:

Top end offense is something that the Comets lack. The recently waived Emerson Etem will help that, but who knows how he will respond to a demotion. If Jake Virtanen is sent down upon Anton Rodin’s return that will definitely help, but otherwise the team doesn’t really have anyone capable of putting up a point per game. A lack of promising call-ups could also spell disaster for the team if injuries strike, particularly on the backend. Potential for disgruntledness could be a distraction throughout the season, as various players like Etem and Pedan who expected to be in the NHL have been unceremoniously demoted. Hopefully, that is not the case.

 

Veteran Presence:

Chad Billins, Michael Chaput, and Jayson Megna were signed specifically to add veteran presence to the forward corps. All have experience playing in winning organizations. Richard Bachman is the perfect backup for Thatcher Demko, more than capable of stepping in as starter if Demko ever falters. Bachman has also been around long enough to provide valuable mentorship. Darren Archibald is an intimidating presence in the minor leagues, and it is nice to have him watching the prospects’ backs. Wacey Hamilton and Carter Bancks are two veteran players that have been with the Comets for a bit now, but might not have a regular spot this year. John Negrin is a perennial ECHL call-up who has been mocked for his father’s business connections with the NHL ownership, but he’s been a part of the organization for longer than most and must be doing something right.

 

Prospects to Watch:

Demko is absolutely the prized prospect of the bunch. Stecher and Subban will be fun to watch as they directly compete for their spot on the depth chart. Cole Cassels is poised for a rebound after a disappointing rookie campaign. Michael Carcone was an undrafted free agent, but was perhaps the most impressive prospect in Penticton. Joe LaBate was the out-of-nowhere surprise of the preseason, and the development of his physical game makes him a legitimate NHL prospect.

 

Coaching Staff:

Travis Green returns as one of the AHL’s top coaches, but also the heir-apparent to any number of potential NHL vacancies. For the time being, he provides excellent guidance for the players in the system. Nolan Baumgartner, despite his own defensive foibles as a player, has done a solid job developing defenders like Subban thus far. Jason King, the former super-temporary Sedin linemate, is something of a wunderkind, having already picked up plenty of AHL coaching experience at the age of 35. He’s also spent time in the front office of the St John’s IceCaps, and should have a lot to offer the organization.

 

Projected Lineup:

Zalewski-Chaput-Etem

Carcone-Megna-Grenier

LaBate-Cassels-Rendulic

Archibald-Laplante-Roy

Bancks-Hamilton-Hulak

 

Pedan-Stecher

Billins-Subban

Sautner-Nilsson

McEneny-Shields

 

Thatcher Demko-Richard Bachman

 

Bubble Players/Call-ups:

Michael Garteig- By far the most interesting player on the Alaska Aces’ roster, Garteig is a solid goaltending prospect who has NHL potential.

Curtis Valk- Valk has tons of offensive skill, but his size and lack of strength continually hold him back. Will likely put up good numbers at the ECHL level, but only garner sparse call-ups to Utica.

Danny Moynihan- Moynihan signed an AHL deal with Utica after being cut from the Canucks, but was soon cut by the Comets, as well. It is unknown yet if he’ll report to the ECHL or seek an opportunity elsewhere.

Mackenze Stewart- The hulking defenseman/winger has a great backstory and an apparent abundance of character, but he’s just not very good at hockey. Will be slugging it out in the ECHL all year.

John Negrin- Negrin always gets a few call-ups here and there, and seems like a good utility guy. However, he’s about as good as it gets for defensive call-ups.

Cody Kunyk- Kunyk is probably ECHL-bound despite appearing on Utica’s roster currently. There are just too many better wingers competing for spots.

Alexis D’Aoust- D’Aoust received an invite to Canucks camp after a solid Penticton performance, but was quickly cut and then further bounced from Utica camp. It is unknown if he will continue down the line to Alaska.

 

Late Season Reinforcements:

Brock Boeser will be the player that everyone has their eye on once his NCAA season ends. Boeser is likely going pro next year, so it’s not unreasonable to think he will start early. Adam Gaudette is another NCAA player that is quickly climbing the prospect charts, and he’s another candidate to sign. Guillaume Brisebois was traded to a better team in the QMJHL, and thus might not be available, but he’s the junior prospect most likely to get a chance. Carl Neill or Rodrigo Abols could also get a look. Olli Juolevi, a member of the London Knights, is expected to be busy long into the summer.

“Why Can’t You Be More Like Him?!” Five Players Who Certain Canucks Should Emulate

If there is one thing that Canuck fans know how to do, it’s criticize. While they’re far from the most toxic fanbase in hockey, Vancouver fans have always found a way to let players and coaches alike know when their performances weren’t appreciated. However, in the interests of constructive criticism, it would be nice if sometimes complaints were a bit more pointed and direct. With that in mind, here are five specific complaints about Canucks, with exemplars to point out how each player could theoretically improve.

 

Player: Emerson Etem

What Fans Criticize Them For: Etem is the classic “all the tools, no toolbox” sort of player. He’s big and can skate like the wind, but rarely does it translate into effective hockey. He is usually not physical, and doesn’t put himself into scoring situations consistently enough.

Who They Should Play More Like: Jason Chimera.

Chimera is a career bottom-6 player, despite a couple of 20 goal seasons. Most importantly, he’s carved out a long-term role for himself in the NHL, something that currently looks like a bit of a long-shot for Etem. Chimera, like Etem, has blazing speed, but he actually uses it to punish on the forecheck and hustle back on defense. Most enticingly, Chimera uses his combination of size and speed to frequently hand out huge bodychecks, something Etem almost never does.

Will It Happen?: Possibly. Etem is only 24 years old, so he’s young enough to reinvent himself. However, the clock is ticking, and he’ll only get a few more chances at the NHL level.

 

Player: Alex Edler

What Fans Criticize Them For: Alex Edler once terrorized the Western Conference with his combination of offensive prowess and physicality. Memorable hits on Drew Doughty and Patrick Kane left an impression, but that sort of play is no longer part of Edler’s repertoire. His booming shot is also seen much less frequently than it used to be.

Who They Should Play More Like: Dustin Byfuglien

Byfuglien certainly has greater skill than Edler, but he also uses it much more effectively. Byfuglien plays with a sort of reckless abandon that regularly changes the flow of games. His huge hits or blasts from the point constantly keep opponents on their toes. Byfuglien can best be described as an absolute presence on the ice, and the same used to be said of Edler.

Will It Happen?: No. A large part of the reason why Edler no longer plays a risky, Byfuglien-esque game is his history of injuries. Most concerning and relevant of these are recurring back problems, which directly affect his ability to throw hits and take slapshots. Edler’s playing style is likely forever altered.

 

Player: Erik Gudbranson

What Fans Criticize Them For: An overreliance on physicality. Gudbranson has a lot of physical tools, but sometimes uses them thoughtlessly, resulting in goals and penalties against. His game is heavily criticized for its inefficiency by the analytics crowd.

Who They Should Play More Like: Niklas Hjalmarsson

Hjalmarsson, like Gudbranson, is a stay-at-home defenseman with some limited offensive upside. Hjalmarsson also has a penchant for physical play, as seen by his recent destruction of Ty Rattie. However, Hjalmarsson doesn’t go for the big hit on every shift, and deploys his size and strength with a more reasoned approach. Hjalmarsson knows how to play within his means, resulting in him being rarely beat by opponents, and always miserable to play against.

Will It Happen?: Possibly. Gudbranson has thus far only been a member of one NHL organization. Players often see a career renaissance after their first trade, and Gudbranson has yet to enter his prime at age 24. Gudbranson may yet develop into a top-flight defensive defenseman.

 

Player: Jake Virtanen

What Fans Criticize Them For: Virtanen has a wicked shot and is among the more physical young players in the NHL, but rarely puts himself in a position to use his gifts well. Whereas, ideally, his shooting and hitting skill would blend themselves into an ideal power forward, Virtanen often seems to be out of sync, constantly choosing whether to focus on scoring or physical play.

Who They Should Play More Like: Wayne Simmonds

Simmonds plays with much more skill than Virtanen, despite the disparity in their draft positions. The two have similar physical tools, but the major difference is how Simmonds deploys his. Simmonds is a classic power forward, and he uses his physical play, and the fear it inspires, to buy room for himself on the ice, which he then uses to unleash his terrific shot. This is a player who makes the most of what he’s got.

Will It Happen?: Hopefully. Virtanen has expressed a desire to play the role of power forward, and one has to think that every member of the Canucks organization is giving him similar feedback. It’s pretty likely that Virtanen knows what he has to do to succeed, but knowing and putting it all together are two very different things.

 

Player: Luca Sbisa

What Fans Criticize Them For: Sbisa can definitely hit hard, and has occasionally used this skill to make a real impact on the ice. Unfortunately, his lack of hockey sense rarely puts him in a position to use what skill he has, and he spends more time chasing his own turnovers than doing anything else.

Who They Should Play More Like: Radko Gudas

Gudas is another player whose physical abilities are greater than his height would suggest. Gudas was once known only for his hitting, but has since used hockey smarts to craft out a niche for himself, playing within his means and using his physicality to supplement an otherwise sturdy defensive game. Could do without the suspendable hits, though.

Will It Happen?: No. Unfortunately, hockey sense doesn’t seem to be a skill that can be learned, and especially not this far into a career. Sbisa is the same age as Gudas, and miles behind him in terms of development.