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]

Canucks Ring of Honour: Who is worthy of “The Ring”

As we all know, the Vancouver Canucks are celebrating their 40th anniversary season in 2010-2011. As part of the celebrations, the club has introduced the Ring of Honour . Four times this season, the Canucks will induct a player from their 40 years of NHL hockey that have made lasting impressions on the team’s fans and the organization.

The first inductee, Orland Kurtenbach, will be inducted this Tuesday, October 26th. Kurtenbach was of course the team’s first captain and played four seasons with the Canucks, before coaching them for two. He is a resident of the lower mainland and an active member of the Vancouver Canucks Alumni.

That leaves three other inductees yet to be named by the team. Who should be the other three?

For me personally, there has to be certain criteria met.

  • You put in several years of service to the team.
  • You represented the team and the city with class.
  • You have contributed to the organization or the city outside of the game.

If it was up to me, I would have no problem including the following three players to round out the four inductions for this season. You may agree or you may have your own list based on your own criteria. Feel free to comment and post your choices below!

Kirk McLean – Goaltender

Kirk McLeanCaptain Kirk McLean played 11 seasons for the Canucks and was one of the main reasons the Canucks went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1994. “The save” in overtime of game seven against Calgary is still the single biggest save in Canucks history. His 52 save performance in Game 1 of the finals that same year, is still one of the greatest games a goaltender has ever played, period. McLean was one of the last “stand up” goaltenders and his tall frame frustrated many a shooter. His ability to keep cool no matter how much pressure he faced was another asset he possessed.

McLean’s name is prominent amongst the club’s all-time goaltending records:

  • 1st in games played: 516
  • 1st in wins: 211
  • 2nd all-time in shutouts (20)
  • 1st in playoff games played: 68
  • 1st in playoff shutouts: 6
  • 1st in playoff wins: 34
  • 3rd in playoff goals against average: 2.84
  • 2nd in playoff save percentage: .907

McLean has made Vancouver his home and is a business owner in the community and also makes appearances on behalf of the club’s alumni. He’s one of Vancouver’s most recognizable sports figures of all-time.

Freelance hockey writer Joe Pelletier who runs GreatestHockeyLegends.com did this nice feature on McLean.

Harold Snepsts  – Defence

Harold SnepstsAffectionately known as “Haaaaaaarooold” by the Canucks faithful, Harold Snepsts patrolled the blueline for the Canucks for 12 seasons. He wasn’t flashy, and didn’t rack up a lot of points but he was steady and played with a mean streak. He was a two time all-star and was a member of the 1982 team that went to the Stanley Cup Finals.

With his trademark moustache, aggressive play and pleasant demeanour off the ice, Snepsts quickly became a fan favourite deserves to be recognized on the Ring of Honour.

Snepsts has come full circle in his career with the Canucks and is now employed as an amateur scout by the team and  is still to this day one of the most popular Canucks of all-time.

Thomas Gradin

Thomas GradinThomas Gradin  was the Canucks first legitimate star, scoring twenty or more goals seven different times for Vancouver. During the Canucks 1982 playoff run Gradin posted nineteen points. Gradin had his greatest success when teamed with linemates Stan Smyl and Curt Fraser, and the smooth skating swede excited fans with his masterful stick handling and smooth passes. There were many that felt that Gradin never reached his full potential with the club, likely due to the sub-par teams he played with throughout his career when he was basically the offence of the club.

Gradin spent eight seasons as a Canuck and ended his career with the Boston Bruins. Today, Gradin is a key member of the club’s scouting staff with the official title of Associate Head Scout.

So, those are the three players that I would choose and there are many others deserving of the recognition.

Leave us your choices or comments!

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