A Salute to Captain Kirk
Tonight at Rogers Arena, the Ring of Honour will pay tribute to Kirk McLean. McLean came to the Vancouver Canucks via trade with the New Jersey Devils in 1987 with Greg Adams and 2nd round pick for Patrick Sundstrom, 3rd round pick, and 4th round pick. He ended up being the Canucks starting goaltender from 1987 to 1998 before being traded away to the Carolina Hurricanes by then Vancouver Canucks GM, Mike Keenan.
In 1991 he set an NHL record for most wins in the month of October with nine (later tied by Felix Potvin in 1993 and Manny Legace in 2005). He was also nominated for the Vezina trophy in the 1991-1992 season coming in second in voting losing out to Patrick Roy. He was a stand-up goaltender, whose technique as many would say was ‘textbook’. McLean was a solid tender backstopping the Vancouver Canucks for 11 years.
As for many who remember Kirk McLean, his shining moments happened in the 1994 Stanley Cup Playoff run. He and the rest of the Canucks took the New York Rangers to the seventh game and were a goal away from winning the Stanley Cup.
I will never forget Kirk McLean’s toe-save on the Calgary Flames’ Robert Reichel in the first round of the playoffs.
How can we forget Western Conference final where he out-duelled Felix Potvin of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He also became the first goaltender to record back-to-back shutouts in the semi-finals since the Red Wings’ Terry Sawchuk did so against the Maple Leafs in 1952. McLean’s shutout streak lasted a total of 143 minutes and 17 seconds. Kirk McLean opened the series with a 52-save performance, including 17 in overtime, to win the first game 3–2.
I don’t think there was a goaltender in the 1994 playoffs that saw the puck better than Kirk McLean, including Mike Richter. In fact, I don’t think anybody played any better than Kirk McLean in the 1994 playoffs, but they just ran out of gas in Game Seven against the Rangers. He is still to this date, my favourite Canuck goalie and it was mostly because of his 1994 playoff performance.
For those that didn’t get to experience, I hate to tell you but you had to be there to get the full understanding, but watch some old highlights and you’ll get the gist of why us ‘old-timers’ are so high on him. Kirk McLean had the hopes and dreams of Canucks fans all around and it all had to do with the timing of his saves and how he reacted to the shots. It was almost…no correction, it was magical.
When they put him up on that ring of honour tonight, the memories will flood back and a smile will form on my face because I’ll remember, I’ll be nostalgic and I will never forget what Kirk McLean has done for the Vancouver Canucks.
Thanks Captain Kirk, tonight we beam up you in the Ring of Honour. Congratulations.