January 3rd, 1998: Iron Mike Keenan started his dismantling of the Vancouver Canucks. After 10 years in a Canucks uniform, the longest serving goalie in franchise history, Kirk McLean, gets dealt to the Carolina Hurricanes, along with Martin Gelinas for Geoff Sanderson, Enrico Ciccone and goaltender, Sean Burke. Those three players played a total of 38 games for the Vancouver Canucks before they, themselves, were sent away from by Keenan.
McLean’s play suffered partly because of a reoccurring knee injury but in all honesty, many people believed Mike Keenan didn’t want the core there anymore and McLean was the first piece, with Gelinas, to be dealt out. McLean and Gelinas were the first but they were not the last. Change came, some of it ended up being blessing in disguise eventually, but this was a deal that Carolina got themselves a starting goaltender and Vezina finalist in Kirk McLean and “Notre Coeur” (Our Heart) Martin Gelinas. The Canucks got back, temporary workers.
It was the beginning of the end of an era that Pat Quinn had built previously. Keenan knocked it down with a wrecking ball and in doing so, set the organization back by a decade. He didn’t care, he wanted to make sure the stamp had “Iron Mike” all over it on the Canucks organization. It did, but it was years before we as fans, saw any of the fruition of it.
This is what happened on January 3, 1998, Today in Canucks History.
Notable players traded by Mike Keenan out of the Canucks organization:
TO BUFFALO: Geoff Sanderson
TO VANCOUVER: Brad May
TO NEW YORK ISLANDERS: Trevor Linden
TO VANCOUVER: Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan McCabe, 3rd Round Pick(Jarkko Ruutu)
TO PHILADELPHIA:Dave Babych, 5th Round Pick(Garrett Prosofsky)
TO VANCOUVER:3rd Round Pick(Justin Morrison)
TO NEW YORK ISLANDERS: Gino Odjick
TO VANCOUVER CANUCKS: Jason Strudwick
TO PHILADELPHIA:Sean Burke
TO VANCOUVER:Garth Snow
TO NEW YORK RANGERS:Russ Courtnall, Esa Tikkanen
TO VANCOUVER:Sergei Nemchinov, Brian Noonan
TO VANCOUVER: Trent Klatt
TO PHILADELPHIA: 6TH Round Pick