Back it Up B*tches, Support the Starter

For as long as I could remember, being the starting goaltender after Kirk McLean was not a great job to have with the Vancouver Canucks. I can see why no self-respecting starting free agent goalie ever wanted to come here and play for this team.  All the fans eventually hate them or are extremely disappointed by them, and they are ran out of town.

I remember it even happened with Kirk McLean. When Corey Hirsch came in to replace the injured McLean (knee), many fans were crying for Hirsch to be the new starter. In their eyes, McLean was done. He will never be the same. Sadly, they were right. Kirk was a shadow of his former self, and no longer at the level of a Vezina nominated goaltender. Off Kirk went, and after that, so did competent goaltending for a good stretch of years. 

We could go on and on revisiting all the goalie controversies here in Vancouver over the last 15 years, but there is no point. It all starts with not liking the starter for whatever reason (not good enough, not nice, too aloof…) and loving the backup in the games he plays. His job is to give said starter the break, so some fans want to see at times a more permanent one. As Canucks fans, we had to see it happen twice to the best goaltender this franchise has ever put on its uniform, Roberto Luongo. How about we put an end to it right now.

Remember this? Photo Credit: The Vancouver Sun

Remember this? Photo Credit: The Vancouver Sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 There is no #TeamLack or #TeamMiller in my eyes. It has always been about #TeamCanucks Right now, it’s not even really an issue. Miller still has not recovered from his injury. So, Eddie Lack is our starter, and we should support him. We should especially support him on days he has a not-so-good game. Fatigue starts to play a factor when one plays so many games in a row. It happened to Miller, and it has happened to Lack too. I like Eddie Lack. He’s a pretty cool dude and a good goalie. However, if Miller comes back, he would get my support as much as Eddie does. Why? 28 wins and 6 shutouts says so. Without that body of work from Miller, the Canucks would not be in a playoff spot. Besides, Ryan Miller seems like a nice guy, just a lot quieter than what we’re used to with guys like Eddie Lack and Kevin Bieksa on the team. To me, he hasn’t been given a chance to be accepted as part of this team by a good number of fans.  We all have to also remember, without Eddie’s improved game since taking over the net post- Miller’s injury,  the Canucks would not still be in playoff contention. Both goalies’ efforts have made an impact. That’s not fan fiction, that’s just how it is.

This goalie controversy can be looked at from a different perspective. Both goalies are both capable of winning, so it’s a problem of abundance. It’s a good problem to have. Two goalies capable of taking the team to victories, a problem? I’m sure teams like Dallas, Edmonton, Arizona etc, would love to have one goalie that could be capable, let alone two. Some should be so lucky.

Let's all relax and take in a Lack Dance.

Let’s all relax and take in a Lack Dance.

My point is, the more Canucks fans, and media alike, who buy into and propagate this message, the harder it could become in the future to find that All-Star level goaltender UFA. No one wants to come to a place where he is publicly not wanted by the very fans for he puts the uniform on, night after night. We don’t want another Heritage Classic situation. Frankly, that dressing room has been through enough over the last two years and there is no need to mount this on them too. Let’s cheer them all on, even the ones that ‘suck’ from time to time. Who knows, it might inspire better play from those players. When the team is winning, the less of an issue it all becomes.

What about next season? Well, let’s get through this one first and we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

@Aviewfromabroad

Pat Quinn: Hockey’s St. Patrick

When I headed towards Rogers Arena last night, my husband sent me a text cautioning me of what I might see when I entered the gate:

Keep your eyes peeled when you come in Gate 16. It was quite the rogues gallery when I came

As I was walking down Abbot Street  (now Pat Quinn Way) to my regular gate, Orland Kurtenbach and his wife walked by for the unveiling of the street sign on Abbot St. and Pacific Boulevard. As I came inside, I saw Kirk McLean talking with a few others. Usually, I don’t get phased by seeing McLean, he’s in and around the arena quite a bit during the regular season, but yesterday, it felt different. There was an energy the minute I set foot through the doors. As I waited for the elevator to take me to Level 5, I started recognizing more faces, and then I thought I saw Markus Naslund which made me do a double take and I wasn’t sure, but I was… Anyway, everyone was in great anticipation of the pre-game ceremony.

When I met up with my husband in our section, he told me of some of the people he saw gathered at Gate 16. He said, in a cluster, there was Brian Burke, George McPhee, Jim Robson and Bob Nicholson. Rogues, maybe, but hockey’s upper echelon, definitely. As we were having our pre-game dinner, I believe we both felt at a loss for words. All  we could do was smile just think of how much Pat Quinn meant to hockey and we in Vancouver were so fortunate to have felt his impact so profoundly.

Canucks President, Trevor Linden, bookends the new commemorative sign of Pat Quinn Way" with Vancouver mayor, Gregor Robertson during the unveiling, renaming ceremony. Photo Credit: NHL.com

Canucks President, Trevor Linden, bookends the new commemorative sign of Pat Quinn Way” with Vancouver mayor, Gregor Robertson during the unveiling, renaming ceremony. Photo Credit: NHL.com

The unveiled "Pat Quinn Way". Quinn meant so much to the Canucks and to the city of Vancouver, it was truly a fitting tribute.

The unveiled “Pat Quinn Way”. Quinn meant so much to the Canucks and to the city of Vancouver, it was truly a fitting tribute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 When the actual ceremony began, Hockey Hall of Fame inductee and legendary broadcaster, Jim Robson hosted the evening. It was respectful, memorable without being too long winded. It was perfect. Rick Ley, Bobby Clarke, Cliff Fletcher, Ron Toigo, Markus Naslund, Stan Smyl, Trevor Linden, Pavel Bure, Kirk McLean, Bob Nicholson and Orland Kurtebach all joined in for the on-ice ceremony. But it was the amazing entourage of people who weren’t shown publicly that astounded many. Washington Capitals GM, George McPhee, singer Michael Buble, Flames President- Brian Burke were amongst the many who gathered at Rogers Arena on that very special night.

Seeing people in the hockey world pay their respects to a man that meant so much to this game, to this city and especially to this team. Pat Quinn had an impact everywhere he want into hockey, but nowhere to the extent of Vancouver. I was still a young girl (11 or 12) when Pat Quinn took charge of the Vancouver Canucks, but I do remember the less than half full Pacific Coliseum before his arrival and how things changed when he put his stamp on the team. There was a culture, there was a vibe, there was respectability associated with the Canucks that lacked in previous regimes.

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Highlights of the Pat Quinn Ceremony

  • Seeing the array of team jerseys that was associated with Pat Quinn in the world of hockey. Even more so the people who wore them out as they were introduced to Rogers Arena.
  • The appropriateness of the St. Patrick’s Day to remember The Big Irishman.
  • Bagpipes and Mark Donnelly singing his rendition of “Irish Eyes Are Smiling” paid a wonderful musical tribute.
  • The combatants of the night, were the two NHL teams Quinn had the most success with as a head coach.
  • All the dignitaries throughout the night that went on-air with kind words to say about Pat.
  • Seeing his daughters and granddaughter with the ceremonial puck drop was a perfect way to end the ceremony.
  • The one that impacted me the most during the ceremony was seeing Bure, Linden and McLean together in their old “Skate Logo” jersey brought the crowd to a rousing cheer. Memories of a team from yesteryear brought many smiles and tears of joy to some present at the arena. Most significant part of that trio together was, as they were leaving the ice after the ceremony, Linden patted Bure on the back and shared what seemed like kinds words with the Russian Rocket. Two men, who have not always seen eye to eye, as teammates and people, put their differences aside for the night to remember Pat Quinn. That’s speaks volumes of how much Pat Quinn meant to people.

For those that missed the ceremony last night, or those who just want to see it again, here is the ceremony in its entirety.

 

@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: Iron Mike Makes a Deal

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.

 

Kirk McLean spent 10 & half years backstopping for the Canucks. He was traded to Carolina January 3, 1998.

Kirk McLean spent 10 & half years backstopping for the Canucks. He was traded to Carolina January 3, 1998.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

twitter: @Aviewfromabroad

 

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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

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.

\”The Save\”

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.

Kirk and Trev

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.


Justine Galo [tweetmeme]