#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.

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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

Homeward Bound: Road Trip +/-

It will be up to Eddie Lack to shoulder the heavy load with Ryan Miller out for four weeks. Photo Credit: The Province

It will be up to Eddie Lack to shoulder the heavy load with Ryan Miller out for four weeks. Photo Credit: The Province

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is it me, or did everyone seem to think this game was in the bag? It definitely had all the makings of a great Canucks road trip. The Canucks have been playing very good hockey. When in some trouble, the Canucks have managed to find ways to get out of those jams. The Sedins are on point streaks, the kids were playing with a ton of tenacity and the backup goaltender has been playing spectacular in the absence of Ryan Miller being sidelined to injury. The team was looking good and walking around with a bit of a swagger. However, all day, I have been feeling really off about the game. Almost everyone was publicly, including members of the Canucks’ media (ahem, Tony Gallagher, ahem) were calling it in already for the Canucks. . The words “when” instead of “if” were being used in regards to the Canucks/Sabres game regarding Vancouver winning. I wish I was wrong with my feelings, but the Sabres won 6-3.

The Canucks didn’t have their fairy tale ending to this Eastern swing, but they did have some positives out of it:

  • Goals Scoring: 3/5 games the Canucks have scored three or more goals. The production has been better over all since the All-Star break. With the next few weeks some very important playoff push coming up, they are going to need production up and down the line up. Seeing the kids not being afraid to shoot and the Sedins looking like their 2010/2011 selves has been promising.
  • Confident Defencmen: When you see most of the highlights on this road trip, you see Weber be much more confident jumping in on the play, taking more shots from the point (and more accurate) but also making really good defensive plays to prevent shots and goals. You see Sbisa taking to the body a little more and feeling more confident on the blue line. Clendening will shoot from anywhere and Stanton is his perfect stay at home partner, who will also seize the opportunity if he is given it. Hamhuis looks more and more like Hamhuis as the road trip progressed and Biega looked like he was on the team since October. Very promising to see considering Edler, Tanev, Bieksa and Corrado are all out with injuries.
  • The Kass: I can’t start this with anyone else but Zack Kassian. His play with the Sedins has been a point producing machine. He’s looked really good on the wing with the twins. With the injury to Burrows, Kassian should really take this opportunity to “steal the job”. When Bertuzzi really started to show real signs of being a regular power forward winger, he was about Kassian’s age now. Patience and guidance is what Zack needs, and it looks like Henrik and Daniel can show him that. 
  • The Kids: Horvat playing like he is already a 2nd line centre and having the confidence to not be intimidated by anyone, including Chara, makes every Canucks fan happy about the future. Kenins will hit anyone, anything and he isn’t afraid to try and score, from any angle. Most importantly, Kenins has the ability to make roon for Horvat and Hansen with his hits and fore-checking abilities. Stanton showing why he had high praise from Coach Q in Chicago and Eddie Lack has been playing like he was standing on his head, except for a few games here and there. It makes me excited for Virtanen to join the team next season.
  • Never-Die Attitude: Regardless of winning or losing, the Canucks are sure as hell not giving up. Even when they have been outplayed, out shot, out scored. They will keep playing until the final buzzer, which was a complete 180 of the team we saw in and around this time last season.
  • Sedinery: Henrik and Daniel have been playing some rejuvenated hockey. It’s not quite at the level they played it at in their prime, but they know this team and even themselves, are in a transitional period. Hank and Danny are taking it upon themselves to show the young guys what it takes to stay and play in the league for as long as they have. Play the right way, stick to the system and make things happen. Whether the insertion of Horvat and Kenins is what has inspired the twins, or vice versa, it’s great to see the Sedins play like the Sedins.
Kassian and the Sedins celebrating a goal by No.9. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Kassian and the Sedins celebrating a goal by No.9. Photo Credit: Getty Images

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home Improvements: Canucks need to work on…

  • Consistency: The biggest issue with the Canucks since the All Star break has been their Jekyll and Hyde record and it’s reflected by the intensity of their play, especially at home. They have the best road record in the NHL, but their home record has been pretty mediocre. Rogers Arena was once a safe haven for the Canucks but over the last couple of season, it’s been hit and miss.
  • Defending in the Defensive: From time to the time, the Canucks have panicked and turnovers have happened in their own end. It happened in Boston and it happened in Buffalo, numerous times. If they continue heavily rely on their goaltenders, they are asking for the world, and Eddie (and eventually Miller) cannot keep up such a high level of play. It really showed in the Sabres game, and Eddie looked average.
  • Skating Hard, Always: When the Canucks aren’t getting calls for power plays and are always finding themselves in the penalty box, they are not skating hard enough. They are gliding and hoping. They aren’t making things happen.
  • Glue-like Goaltending: When Miller, Lack and soon Markstrom are on their games, they are pretty formidable between the pipes, but this season, the good goaltending has come in spurts and at different times. Neither Miller or Lack have been consistently spectacular. They’ve had their moments. However, with the playoff push coming up, no matter who ends up being in net (Lack at this point) needs to really be on top of it and it doesn’t matter who the backup is, they are going to have to come together and be like glue.
Kenins has been a great compliment to Bo Horvat's line. Creating space and crashing bodies has made Kenins a force on the ice.

Kenins has been a great compliment to Bo Horvat’s line. Creating space and crashing bodies has made Kenins a force on the ice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A long 11 day, five-game road trip has come to an end. The Vancouver Canucks are coming home with a 3-2 record. It could have been better? Yes, and it could have been worse, if Vancouver didn’t win the Rangers game in the shootout, coming back with a losing record on this road trip would have made the playoff race much harder to keep the other teams at bay. But six out of 10 points isn’t bad, but everyone was expecting it would have been eight after tonight. Unfortunately, it was not so.

With three days until their next game, the Canucks will have a day off on Friday and a practice on Saturday to right some wrongs. The next four games coming up are against Western Conference opponents in a very tight playoff race. With St. Louis coming to town on Sunday, followed by a visit from the San Jose Sharks, the Canucks have their work cut out for them before they get on the road for two and then home for five straight, including visits from the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks. With the Metropolitan Division out of the way, for the most part, the Canucks are now in for the real test and so is our fan-dom.

@Aviewfromabroad

 

#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

#TICH: Team Canada 2002 Gold, Salt Lake City

It was the first time in 50 years the Canadian Olympic team won Gold in hockey. A sport that is synonymous with the nation. It was today, February 24, 2002, Burnaby Joe and the rest of Team Canada could give this nation something to cheer for again in Olympic Men’s hockey.

Striking gold in Salt Lake City, Team Canada wins after 50 years of no hockey Olympic gold. Photo Credit: Hockey Canada

Striking gold in Salt Lake City, Team Canada wins after 50 years of no hockey Olympic gold. Photo Credit: Hockey Canada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know it’s not necessarily a “Canucks” historical moment but there was a member of the Vancouver Canucks  on the 2002 Gold winning Salt Lake City Team Canada roster. Let’s not forget  the winning coach, our legendary Canucks coach and GM, the late Pat Quinn. 

The late Pat Quinn, coached the 2002 Olympic team to gold. Former Canucks player, coach, GM and President. Photo credit: Toronto Sun

The late Pat Quinn, coached the 2002 Olympic team to gold. Former Canucks player, coach, GM and President. Photo credit: Toronto Sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Jovocop” made the Team Canada roster. Jovanovski was known as a free-wheeling, offensive defence-man. He also didn’t mind giving a few memorable hits here and there.  For Team Canada, Ed Jovanovski, assisted on the first Joe Sakic goal which ended up being the game winner. Team Canada defeated Team USA, 5-2 in Salt Lake City, Utah to win gold again, finally.

Ed "Jovocop" Jovanovski was a member of the 2002 Gold winning Olympic Men's hockey team. At the time he was the Canucks No.1 D-man. Photo credit: PowerLine Athletics

Ed “Jovocop” Jovanovski was a member of the 2002 Gold winning Olympic Men’s hockey team. At the time he was the Canucks No.1 D-man. Photo credit: PowerLine Athletics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s #TICH February 24, 2002.

@Aviewfromabroad

Here is a 10 minute highlight reel, called by Bob Cole on CBC of the game in Salt Lake City.

 

Ice Drama: Goalies, Blue Line Shuffle and Press Box’ing

It’s been often said that sports are the soap operas for their fans. There are story-lines built into teams, situations and how things have played out from game to game. In Canuckland, it can be at times, even more so of a soap opera. With the happenings that have surrounded the team over the last few years during the Gillis regime, and even presently, the little dramas keep on writing themselves and at times often get pushed in media members’ agendas.

Goalie Controversy

So is there enough to call it a goalie controversy between Ryan Miller and Eddie Lack? Early in the season and the beginning of 2015, there was no question Miller is the starter, but lately has faltered. When he wins, he wins convincingly and when he has lost, it’s been more often than not, a blow out. The one loss he did play well in was the game against the Flames on a second of a back to back which Miller played the night before winning over Boston.  Eddie Lack came back with a win versus the Wild on the following Monday. In fact, in Lack has won three of his last starts and many fans are calling for him to start over Ryan Miller.

Miller was great and then not so great in the Canucks shootout win over the New York Rangers. In the 1st and most of the 2nd, he kept his team in it. Faltered and let in a soft goal and an unfortunate one with a Henrik giveaway.

Miller was great and then not so great in the Canucks shootout win over the New York Rangers. In the 1st and most of the 2nd, he kept his team in it. Faltered and let in a soft goal and an unfortunate one with a Henrik giveaway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve come to the understanding that once Vancouver has a goalie controversy going, overall it’s a good thing. It means the backup is playing very well and the starter can have some rest for the last 25 game push for a playoff spot. When a goalie controversy sparked a few years back, Luongo and Schneider ended up winning the Jennings Trophy. Unfortunately, having this controversy has already cost the Canucks two starting goalies, both aforementioned in the last sentence. With the schedule really picking up and Miller expecting his first child in the very near future, there will be more starts for everyone’s favourite backup.

A more evenly divided workload for the goalies will help the team down the line, but in the process of supporting Eddie Lack, I don’t see why there can’t be love given to Ryan Miller. Without his 27 wins, the Canucks would not be in a playoff spot at the moment. Earlier this season, he’s bailed out his team and stole a few games they had no business winning, twice in San Jose, for that matter. Shouldn’t that count for something? One thing I really love about Miller is his ownership of his play. He has no problem taking responsibility for it when it’s bad, which he did last night.  So before this fan base buries Miller in the graveyard with their shovels in hand, don’t forget all those points he’s acquired the team early in the season. They count exactly the same now, as they did in October, November and early January, two points are two points and they are all important.

Consistently Inconsistent

No one knows what to really make of this whole Kassian situation. And those that do aren’t saying a thing whether it be negative or positive.  A kid with all the tools could be set to be a very effective power forward. However, when Kassian isn’t visible on the ice, it’s glaringly bad or completely unnoticeable, which has earned Zack press-box duties from time to time.  I want him to be effective and although Willie and the coaching staff have to take some responsibility in not always utilizing him to his skill set,  Zack has shown more often than not, he hasn’t earned it. The glaring defensive lapses in his game are the biggest hindrance to his progression as a top six forward. Zack needs to stay focused and to be able to know when to take a penalty and not put his team in a hole because of bone-headed plays. Like I said, Zack has all the tools, but he needs some instruction in using them properly and more importantly, become consistent.

Press-box duties for Kassian versus the Rangers, and we're wondering if he will be out on the ice tonight against Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils.

Press-box duties for Kassian versus the Rangers, and we’re wondering if he will be out on the ice tonight against Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue Line Shuffle

If you don’t know the new dance it town, it’s called the Blue Line Shuffle. With three of the Canucks top six defencemen out with injury, there is a whole new look to the Vancouver blue line. Bieksa and Edler out on the IR and Tanev is day to day. Corrado, who has been the 7th d-man most nights,  is also on the IR prompting the call up of Alex Biega.

Edler is one of three Canucks defencemen out on the Injured Reserved. The Blue Line looks unrecognizable at the moment. Speedy recovery to Alex and his teammates!

Edler is one of three Canucks defencemen out on the Injured Reserved. The Blue Line looks unrecognizable at the moment. Speedy recovery to Alex and his teammates!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pairings have been shuffled quite a bit from this influx of injured blue liners. Hamhuis has been paired with Yannick Weber, and although I think Weber is a fine Bottom 2-type of  guy, I can’t see him shouldering the minutes Hamhuis has picked up with Edler and Tanev both out. Hammer has also been a little tentative since he came back from his injury, and it shows. He’s not hitting like himself and without his top 4 mates, the little mistakes he’d make seem a little bigger these days.  Sbisa is with Biega is unpredictable and Stanton looks steady with Clendening. It’s a big mess, but when will it be rectified? It all depends when Chris Tanev will be ready to go and who works best with him when he is back.

The Canucks are now down to their last 25 games or so. It is time to find out just what they are made of, and if last night versus the New York Rangers was any indication, they are at least entertaining. 

 

@Aviewfromabroad

 Play of the Night

PS, how about that Henrik Sedin guy? The captain shoulders responsibility and brings the Canucks to OT and the chance to win in the shootout.