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:

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:

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.


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.



Today in Canucks History: Debut of Pavel Bure

Welcome back to #TICH. We hope you enjoyed our little write-up about Stan Smyl. That week in November of 1991,  was a busy week for the Canucks. To not take any “Steam” away from Smyl’s number retirement night, Bure’s debut for the Canucks was delayed until the next game. Then owner, Arthur Griffiths, and GM, Pat Quinn, wanted to make sure Stan got the attention he deserved and Bure debuted in a Canucks uniform two nights later versus the Winnipeg Jets.

When Pavel Bure finally hit the ice on November 5, 1991, he did not disappoint. He was electrifying. Instead of us trying to describe it to you with words, let’s look back at this video instead.



A week later, he scored his first goal, at the Pacific Coliseum, on the LA Kings’ netminder, Daniel Berthiaume. A standing ovation came right after, and so well deserved.



During his rookie year, his presence on the ice alone became a ‘must see’ in any city he visited and an even bigger draw at home. He was a marquee player in,  what was at the time, small market Vancouver. He won the Calder Trophy for the NHL Rookie of the year. He played 65 games, scored 34 goals and 26 assists for a total of 60 points. He scored 22 goals in the last 23 games of the season. Words cannot describe fully the skill of Pavel Bure. As Canucks fans, I believe we saw the best he offered in the NHL. Simply amazing, the Russian Rocket, was no less than electrifying.

Captivating crowds all over the NHL with his speed, skill and the tenacity of his play.

Captivating crowds all over the NHL with his speed, skill and the tenacity of his play.


Justine Galo


Follow me on twitter: @Aviewfromabroad


Top 10 of Number 10: Pavel Bure

All throughout that Saturday morning, from the minute I woke up to the minute I stepped out of my home, I thought about how many moments Pavel Bure has given to this city. Many are caught on camera and probably uploaded on youtube, but there were some that I simply remember sitting in my seat (most likely on the edge) at the Pacific Coliseum watching him live.  As I was riding on the Skytrain downtown to a short work meeting prior to the game, I thought to myself, “You’re one lucky lady.” I grew up in an era of Bure Canucks hockey. A player that was not only revered here in Vancouver, but all over the league and eventually found himself in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Bure Ceremony

Bure Ceremony

Here are my Top 10 Moments of No. 10, Pavel Bure:

  1. First ever game as a Vancouver Canuck versus the Winnipeg Jets: Pavel didn’t score that night, but he must have had five rushes or so up and down the ice. I skipped school that day, drove to TicketMaster at Pacific Coliseum and lined up for stand room only tickets so I could watch Bure that night. I also believe I skipped a volleyball practice, which resulted in my coach benching me for it. It was worth it. I saw exactly why everyone was such a buzz over this guy. He undressed defensemen, he shimmy’ed around opponents and skated faster, better and in more control than anyone I have ever seen before who played in the NHL.
  2. First NHL Goal: I don’t even want to talk about it, how about we just look at it. 
  3. Elbow on Shane Churla: Not one of his classier moments, but it was memorable for sure. Bure was no pushover  and although I do not condone it, the message was simple. He wasn’t one to be messed around with, he will push back. 
  4. Stick to Skate to Stick goal: The kind of goals you mess around with in practice. Bure added a little Pele to this goal and to top it off, it was short-handed. 
  5. Speed: There has never been anyone I have ever seen live that carried that much speed and so much control over the puck. What would spin most players out of control and hurling into the boards, made Bure a HOF’er.
  6. 1994 Double OT Goal vs Calgary: The pass from Jeff Brown, the rest… 
  7. Goal vs The Devils: Dipsy doodle and doh see doh. Bure danced around everyone in the Devils’ zone and scored. 
  8. End to End: There isn’t a Canuck player past or present that can do an end to end rush like Pavel, no one. 
  9. Calling His Shot: Pavel Bure gets a penalty shot on Damian Rhodes but he tells Koharski he’s going 5-hole and gets it. Babe Ruth, what? 
  10. Finally, Rocket to the Rafters: I’ve been waiting for this moment for so many years. It was about time.

The man’s career was one big highlight reel. I am one of the fortunate ones to see most of it from beginning to end. He will  always have his place here now in Vancouver, for that I am thankful. What stuck out the most that night, was when fans, even the younger ones that didn’t get to see him play, saw the videos of Bure highlights, the reactions of “oohs” and “ahhs” were almost like he was performing them live. He was that good.

Thanks Pavel and congratulations.

And then there were four...

And then there were four…


Justine Galo



Through the Plexi-Glass: Remembering a Heart Of a Canuck

It’s the new mantra for the Vancouver Canucks, “The Heart of a Canuck”. It’s in the arena, it’s all over the city, and more importantly, it’s in us fans.  After a difficult loss in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, I felt my heart almost break. The toll of the whole playoffs resonated with me the minute the horn sounded and the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup.  I felt deflated, spent, and dejected. However, I remember being at the bar in the Best Buy Club section of the arena and I thought of a friend of mine who would have loved to have been there. His name? Curtis Giesbrecht.

When I went to high school, I found myself in a high school that was heavily into football, both CFL and the NFL. So I was one of the few kids that actually loved hockey and talked hockey as much as I could. Finding someone to talk to me about the Canucks, hockey in general was more or less ‘difficult’. You see, the Canucks weren’t that good of a hockey team back then. In the late 80’s early 90’s, they were, for a lack of a better word, mediocre. Despite all that, I still loved them. The cool thing was, I finally met someone else in my high school who loved them as much, if not more, than I. That guy was Curtis.

We drove our teachers crazy because instead of just focusing on class, we’d ask each other about the game we heard on the radio the other night or got to watch on TV. While everyone else in school was wondering how if the Pittsburgh Steelers were going to have a banner year, he and I would be discussing if Pat Quinn should be both GM and coach, Pavel Bure’s goal, or how much we both admired and loved Trevor Linden.  I had found my  hockey soul-mate!

We also used to bug a friend of ours about being a Flames fan, but he took it with stride and we had a great hockey banter in the hallways. However, the memory I cherish the most was the last year of high school. Curtis and I finally attended a Canucks game together. Lots of weekends working retail had to be done in order to pay for our 9th row seats at the old Pacific Coliseum but we made it there. Curtis wore his Canucks jersey (like he often did to school) and I believe at the time I had a #8 Greg Adams jersey.  It was the Canucks versus the Winnipeg Jets. We had seen Teemu Selanne graced us with his talent and intuition to score, while we had the always dynamic Bure. We were in hockey fan heaven.  I don’t believe we won that night, and I felt dejected, but I remember Curtis saying to me, “G, never give up being a Canucks fan, they are our team and I’ll love them forever, even when I die!” He was 17 at the time, and so was I.  We thought we’d be heading to Canucks games the rest of our adult lives together. We were even talking about going into season tickets one day.  He was the biggest fan to date.

Taken at the old Pacific Coliseum, Pavel Bure

We didn’t have the internet, so we didn’t have things like twitter, Facebook, or even a regular TV broadcaster of the Canucks to keep us up to date. We relied heavily on Sports Page, the radio and whatever news we could get into our proverbial hands.  Most of all, Curtis and I had each other.  Unfortunately, our dreams of being season ticket holders together never happened. Curtis was killed in an unfortunate car accident just a few short years after we graduated high school.

It’s been almost 20 years, but I still remember seeing his smile every morning and first thing he used to say to me wasn’t “Hello”, but it was “Hey G, how about those Canucks this year?” I miss that to this very day. So in my memory beats the heart of a Canuck. Today, when I step into Rogers Arena,  as the Vancouver Canucks take on the Pittsburgh Penguins, I will think of Curtis and all the great times we had together, as Canucks fans.
Dedicated to the memory of Curtis Geisbrecht, forever a Canuck.

Justine Galo

Let’s just call Shirokov the first Sergei Shirokov

shirokovhushBack in the day, when Canucks hockey pretty much ruled my life, I remember sitting around with the regular group of buddies, and being so excited when the Canuck drafted Pavel Bure. My friends and I followed every detail of the story. From anxiously awaiting word from the NHL after other teams filed a protest of our pick claiming Bure was ineligible, to the politics of getting him here. The first night he stepped on the ice for the Canucks is one of my most vivid Canucks memories. As we all know, Bure came as advertised and to this day is the most talented player that has ever worn a Canucks uniform, in my opinion.

There’s a new Russian hope at training camp this year and after a few training camp sessions and a nice two goal performance against what was basically a roster of AHL players and juniors, Sergei Shirokov is turning a lot of heads. There are even fans comparing him to the “Russian Rocket”.

Now that I’m a bit older, I’m excited by Shirokov too, but not enough to make comparisons like that.

The Canucks drafted Shirokov 163rd overall in 2006, and this past summer signed the talented Russian after he decided to forgo more  guaranteed money in with CSKA Moscow to pursue and NHL career with the Canucks. Shirokov wanted to play so badly in the NHL he filed a lawsuit against his Russian team when they decided to try an block him from leaving.

“At the end of the day, this kid said: ‘I want to play in the National Hockey League and I’m prepared to do whatever I have to,’” Canuck assistant general manager Laurence Gilman said. “He’s on an entry-level, two-way contract. He understands he has to compete for a spot and if he’s unable to make our team, he’ll play for our minor-league team.”

That determination is admirable, and by all reports Shirokov is putting his talents on display so far in camp, but do we need to heap the pressure of being the next Bure on him? Is that even fair? How about we just look forward to what the first Shirokov can do?

Shirokov is a smallish player, listed at 5’10”, 176 pounds. He had 17 goals and 41 points in 56 games last season in the KHL. There are many who claim he’s played against men for a couple years now in Russia, and that he should be able to adjust to the pace and grind of the NHL quickly, however not many rookies can accomplish that. The NHL plays twice as many games as the KHL, not including playoffs, and it hosts the best players in the world. Shirokov, if he makes the team, is likely going to find that a big adjustment.

Then there is the culture.

His english is spotty at best, and there aren’t any other Russian players on the roster and the adjustment will be massive.

There is no doubt that Shirokov possesses the talent and determination to play in the NHL. There is also no doubt his scoring talents  would be a welcome addition to the Canucks offensive depth and trhe club and it’s fans would love nothing better for him to jump right in and bring fans out of their seats.

So start thinking of nicknames and order your Shirokov jersey. Just don’t be surprised if the transition from promising prospect to Canucks superstar take a little longer than a few training camp sessions and a minor league exhibition game.

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