#TICH May 27, 1995: Adieu To the “Rink on Renfrew”

The Vancouver Canucks first ever game at the Pacific Coliseum was in 1970. 25 years later they found a new home at GM Place.

The Vancouver Canucks first ever game at the Pacific Coliseum was in 1970. 25 years later they found a new home at GM Place.

 

It was an end of an era. The Canucks’ final game at the old Pacific Coliseum happened 20 years ago today, May 27, 1995.  I wish I could say I was there, but I was a struggling student and I couldn’t afford the tickets. However, I think I went to more Canucks games that year than I ever did in a single season, pre-season ticket holder days.

I had many great memories at the Rink of Renfrew, but it’s no question the biggest one was Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final in 1994 and the Canucks forced a Game 7 against the New York Rangers. Two guys with the same name, spelled differently, both scored twice that night to beat NYR 4-1. Jeff Brown and Geoff Courtnall stole the show. I remember being in tears thinking they were going back to New York for Game 7. I was 19 years old. It was the time of my life and that team was so inspiring. I’m sure many of you old enough to remember the old rink have many memories over the years there too.

Game 6 vs the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final was my most favourite memory at the Rink on Renfrew.

Game 6 vs the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final was my most favourite memory at the Rink on Renfrew.

 

In 1995-1996 season, the Canucks were moving into their downtown arena, GM Place. They were saying goodbye to Pacific Coliseum and to an era that built a new generation of Canucks fans.

The Canucks were in the Western Semi-finals against the Chicago Blackhawks after getting past St. Louis in the 1st Round. Roman Oksiuta had the game of his career in a losing effort. He scored twice that night, along with a tally from Jeff Brown.However, it was Chicago familiars, Jeremy Roenick and Chris Chelios who score for Chicago and two former Canucks came back to haunt their old team, Gerald Diduck and Murray Craven scored to make it 4-3. Chelios scored the game and series winner as the Blackhawks swept the Canucks in their final game ever at Pacific Coliseum.

Roman Oksiuta scored twice that night only to lose in OT against the Blackhawks in the Canucks last ever game at the PNE.

Roman Oksiuta scored twice that night only to lose in OT against the Blackhawks in the Canucks last ever game at the PNE.

 

It’s great I can still watch hockey there, as it now houses the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, but it’s where my love for hockey and the Canucks started and it will always be a special place for me, and for many fellow Canucks fans. What were your favourite memories? We’d love to hear about them.

@Aviewfromabroad

#TICH: May 1, 1982 – Canucks Fans Wave White Towels as Rally Cry

Roger Neilson gave birth to “Towel Power”. But it was the fans at the Pacific Coliseum that made it a Canucks tradition and his legacy.

It started in Game 2 vs the Chicago Blackhawks in late April, 1982.  The officiating was horrible and seemingly one-sided that night,  it enraged the Canucks bench.  It angered them so much assistant coach, Ron Smith, yelled out “We give up, we surrender, we give up!”  “Tiger” Williams suggested to throw sticks on the ice as a form of protest,  but Roger Neilson thought this would be more effective.

Roger Neilson and members of the Vancouver Canucks hung white towels on their sticks to protest the horrible officiating in Chicago.

Roger Neilson and members of the Vancouver Canucks hung white towels on their sticks to protest the horrible officiating in Chicago.

Putting a white towel atop the end of a hockey stick, Neilson raised the “white flag” as a form of mock surrender. That action had Neilson ejected from the game and the Canucks lost 4-1 but came home from Chicago with a split.  Neilson was then fined $1000 and the Canucks were fined $10,000. Neilson was criticized by referee Myers about his actions and was described as “bush league”. The NHL commented on how this was a disgrace to the playoffs. However the officials, other fans and the league reacted, it sparked a battle cry that no one expected from the Canucks’ fan base.

 

Some of the Canucks fans greeted the team at the airport waving white towels when they returned back to Vancouver. When Neilson and the team came home to the Pacific Coliseum on May 1, 1982, they were greeted with thousands of fans in the stands waving white towels.

What happened at the old Rink of Renfrew today back in 1982 started what we today call “Towel Power”.  Thousands of fans in the stands brought white towels as a rally cry for the Canucks to win the series and move on in the playoffs. The 1982 Canucks made it to the Stanley Cup final, but falling in only four games to the powerhouse, New York Islanders. It didn’t matter. A Vancouver Canucks tradition was born and it has been embraced for the last 33 years. Every playoff season, the Vancouver Canucks lay out “playoff towels” for fans to wave before each game. It’s a tradition we love and made our own and what a back-story it was to give it life.

Thanks Roger, you are forever remembered. Keep waving that towel!

Roger Neilsen statue outside of Rogers Arena on the plaza. Towel Power forever!

Roger Neilsen statue outside of Rogers Arena on the plaza. Towel Power forever

 This happened Today in Canucks’ History, May 1st, 1982.

@Aviewfromabroad

Nobody Likes Us, Who Cares: Ways to Survive the Post-Season

Over the last few years, the Canucks have become one of those team that other fans just love to hate. It used to bother me, but I’ve gotten used to it, and actually relish it. It’s not different coming into the 2015 NHL playoffs. All the media and fan experts have chosen the Calgary Flames to win this series. Let’s never mind the fact the Canucks have finished ahead of the Flames in the regular season standings. Let’s overlook the fact the Canucks haven’t played with a healthy top 6 blue-line for about a 1/3 of the season and managed to find ways to win. I could go on, but it’s a list of redundancy. Rodney Dangerfield, the Canucks are, and like in the past, we will use it to our advantage. Remember, #EmbraceTheHate ? Why not do it again.

Here are some ways to survive the playoffs as a Canucks fan:

  1. Believe: Whether the Canucks are the underdog, the favourite, the dark horse- part of your job as a fan is to believe. Don’t shake your belief even if they are getting their ass kicked in a game 5-1. That’s why they call it a series. You have to win four games to be declared a winner.
  2. Cup-less Argument: Despite not winning a Stanley Cup, the Vancouver Canucks are the Canadian team closest to winning one in the last 10 years. Sure the Oilers made the ’06 finals, but in all sincerity, they weren’t winning that Cup. Unfortunately for us Canucks fans, neither did the Canucks in 2011. However, they are the most recent, and therefore the most relevant. Just remind the Flames fans, sure they have one Cup victory but it’s not like any of those players from the 1989 champions will be lacing up the skates and bringing them to victory. New teams, new outlooks, different expectations. And one more thing, good on us for sticking to a team that has yet to win a cup.We’re not jumping on bandwagons of cup winners because that’s the cool thing to do. Loyalty is a good thing.
  3. Riot Jokes: Anyone who brings up the riots of 2011, usually don’t have much wit to match and will recycle an old joke until they are blue in the face. Whether you’re on twitter, Facebook or just talking amongst friends, the riots jokes are lame. If that’s the case, almost every college campus during the football Bowl games, Montreal etc have to be included in those jokes. But really? They are over, the perpetrators are being dealt with or have been sentenced. The true colours of Vancouverites came out the next morning when volunteers cleaned up the city, boarded up the windows and made the city whole again in the aftermath.
  4. Sedin “Sisters”: If I were Daniel and Henrik, I’d just score a ton of goals to shut them up. However, if you’re immature enough to demean the more feminine gender, I don’t know if I really want you in my circle. “They skate like girls.”I’m sure they still skate faster than you. The grotesque innuendos of incest; soft feminine qualities are again arguments for the dim-witted. Why bother getting in arguments with such childish and tactless ‘banter’.  Just say words like “Art Ross” “Hart” “Ted Lindsay” and they will understand. Those are awards Daniel and Henrik have won. But for the most part, Sedinery speaks for itself.
  5. Love Thy City: When the arguments of the cities involved comes up and you’re getting Calgary monkey dung thrown your way (literally- they have a zoo with monkeys, and figuratively), just flash a picture of Vancouver and remind them that the brown perma-frost like substance they call grass, is about as good as it gets in their parts.
    Any angle of Vancouver is better than any angle of Calgary and it's year-round look of brown permafrost they call 'grass'.

    Any angle of Vancouver is better than any angle of Calgary and it’s year-round look of brown permafrost they call ‘grass’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 It’s never easy being a Canucks fan, and it’s even harder during the playoffs when the rest of Canada could cheer you on, they choose not to. That’s ok. As we have hash-tagged over the last few years… #EmbraceTheHate because that’s all we can do. Embrace it and feed off it. That’s how to survive the post-season as a Canucks fans.

Take it a step further and like Radim Vrbata:

k6jpu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

@Aviewfromabroad

#TICH: Thomas Gradin 500th Point Milestone

Thomas Gradin is a huge reason I became a Canucks fan. I was six years old and when I saw him skate for the first time on that very rare TV appearance, I knew I was hooked. My family wasn’t all that big into hockey at the time, I  grew up watching a lot more football up to that point. Also, I was six, I just learned to write my name and here I am trying to figure out which hockey team I was going to cheer? It was 1981 and Gradin was the first player to ever possess such a high level of natural skill. He was a far cry from his linemates, Curt Fraser, and much more refined than Stan Smyl, with his hockey gifts. However, that rookie line worked out quite well together.

fred-lee-dec-20-2013

Daniel Sedin (left) and Henrik Sedin (Right) were scouted by Thomas Gradin (centre) and convinced then GM, Brian Burke, to draft the twins second and third in the 1999 NHL entry draft.

Gradin was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1978 in the 3rd round, 45th overall. He came to play for the Canucks via a trading of his contract rights. Oddly enough, Gradin also was drafted into the WHA by the Winnipeg Jets in the 1st round, 9th overall.  He became one of the first Europeans to join the Canucks organization along with his fellow Swedes, Lars Zetterstrom and Lars Lindgren.  In his rookie year, Gradin scored 20 goals, 31 assists for 51 points. He shared the Cyclone Taylor award for Canucks MVP with goaltender, Glen Hanlon.

 On March 8th, 1985, Thomas Gradin scored his 500th NHL career point, becoming the first Canuck to reach that Milestone. The Canucks defeated the LA Kings that night, 4-3.

No. 23, Thomas Gradin, became the first Canuck to reach the 500 point plateau on March 8, 1985.

No. 23, Thomas Gradin, became the first Canuck to reach the 500 point plateau on March 8, 1985.

Gradin spent eight seasons with the Vancouver Canucks and one with the Boston Bruins before calling it a career in the NHL. He returned to Sweden to play in the SEL for another three years before retiring as a player. In 1994, Gradin came back to the Canucks organization as an amateur scout. Presently he is the Associated Head Scout, a role he has held since 2007.

Notable names Thomas Gradin has helped bring to the Canucks organization:

  • Matthias Ohlund
  • Daniel Sedin
  • Henrik Sedin
  • Alex Edler

On January 24, 2011, Gradin was inducted into the Canucks Ring of Honour. He ended his NHL careeer with 209 goals, 384 assists and 593 points. Fittingly enough, Gradin averaged just above 23 goals/year in his NHL career. Thanks Thomas, for validating my reason to become a Canucks fan way back when. You’ve helped mould that six year old’s sports passion and especially for the Canucks. 

That’s #TICH today, March 8, 1985.

@Aviewfromabroad

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Gradin seen here being inducted into the Canucks Ring of Honour in 2011

#TBT: Nucks Nicknames

What’s in a nickname? For some, it’s just a variation of their given names. For others, it’s a character tell and some just don’t make sense. Remember when David Booth said everyone on the team were given animal nicknames and we were trying to figure out who he called “Whitetail”?  Over the years, there have been some pretty different and/or cool player nicknames, we have heard of and some others have not. Some were given to them by their teammates, some from fans and many of the mainstream ones from local media.

Looking back to revisit some of these monikers and share some insight (if any) given to them.

Garth Butcher was known as “The Strangler”. When he used to fight, he’d grope or grab on to someone almost like he was strangling them instead of punching. Although, Garth Butcher on its own was scary enough. The nickname was just bonus.

Big, bad Garth.

Big, bad Garth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Crawford is known to many of us just as “Crow” when he coached in the NHL. Some of that is credited to his name but I’d be the first to admit, it might have something to do with his voice as well. However, in Crawford’s playing days for the Canucks organization, his nickname was “747” due to the frequency he went back and forth the big club and the minor league affiliate.

A very young Marc Crawford during his Canucks playing days. Photo Credit: HF Boards

A very young Marc Crawford during his Canucks playing days. Photo Credit: HF Boards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Igor Larionov is internationally known to the hockey worlds as, “The Professor”. He was considered one of the smartest players in the game and many of his contemporaries thought of him being ahead of his time. If you’ve never seen Larionov play, I suggest getting on youtube and getting educated.

"In the '80s, he was arguably the best center in the world." -- Wayne Gretzky, about Larionov

“In the ’80s, he was arguably the best center in the world.”
— Wayne Gretzky, about Larionov

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Johan Hedberg came to the Canucks as Dan Cloutier’s backup in the early 2000’s. However, it’s a piece of equipment that gave him his nickname “The Moose”. When an up and coming Hedberg was in with Pittsburgh, he played with his AHL Manitoba Moose mask and never changed it. From then on, he’s had the nickname. Come to think of it, he wore that mask design with the Canucks too, even before the Moose became our affiliate in the mid to late 2000’s.

Hedberg with his Manitoba Moose helmet as he played back-up to Dan Cloutier.

Hedberg with his Manitoba Moose helmet mixed in with the Canucks Orca in the front of it as he played back-up to Dan Cloutier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim Sandlak was known to all Canucks fans as, “The House”.  Sure Sandlak was a big guy at 6’4″ and 225lbs, but he didn’t get that nickname just because of his stature. I think it had something to do with eating a bunch of free hot dogs at the Pacific Coliseum in one sitting.

Sandlak was named the 1985 best player at the World Juniors. A Canucks' 1st round pick and a well earned nickname.

Sandlak was named the 1985 best player at the World Juniors. A Canucks’ 1st round pick and a well earned nickname. Photo Credit: The Province Sports

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kirk McLean will forever be known for “The Save” in the first round of the 1994 playoffs against Calgary, but he also has a few nicknames. The ones the fans probably gave him is “Captain Kirk” and caught on like wildfire during that run. His teammates usually called him “Mack” but there have been others ones. One is because of the Scottish Lion on his mask, “The Scot”. I’m with the rest of the fans, I’m all about “Captain Kirk”.

Captain Kirk

Captain Kirk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 It’s not a bad start to be a reoccurring feature on CanucksCorner.com’s Throwback Thursday due to the amount of really good nicknames of Canucks players throughout team history. Got a favourite one? Let us know! We’d love to share it with our fellow Canucks fans. Maybe we can figure out who “Whitetail” is and maybe we can finally get the story on “Harry”.

 

@Aviewfromabroad