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

#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

Today In Canucks History: Stan Smyl

This the first edition of “Today in Canucks History” or simply hashtagged #TICH. From time to time we will sharing moments of happenings from that day. Hope you enjoy it and we look forward to sharing more of these moments with you throughout the season.

On November 3, 1991 Stan Smyl’s No. 12 was retired and went up into the rafters at Pacific Coliseum.  That night, the Vancouver Canucks won 7-2 over the Edmonton Oilers. Smyl is the only one of the four Canucks  number retirements that was retired at the old “Rink on Renfrew”. All the others have been at GM Place/Rogers Arena. He is also the only one out of the four retired numbers that played his whole career with the Vancouver Canucks, from 1978 to 1991.

Stan Smyl's No.12 was retired on Nov.3, 1991 at the old Pacific Coliseum.

Stan Smyl’s No.12 was retired on Nov.3, 1991 at the old Pacific Coliseum.

Smyl served as Captain from 1982 until his retirement.
GP 899- G 262-  A 411-  Pts 673

Stan now works for the Vancouver Canucks as Senior Advisor to GM & Director of Player Development.

Thanks Steamer.

Thanks Steamer! You are forever a Canuck.

Thanks Steamer! You are forever a Canuck.

Justine Galo

Follow me on twitter: @Aviewfromabroad

Markus hangs them up. We should say thank you.

Markus Naslund officially called it quits on his NHL career Monday, and as far as I’m concerned, he deserves nothing but thanks and good wishes from Canucks fans.

“I would like to sincerely thank Glen Sather and the New York Rangers for giving me the opportunity this past season in New York,” said Naslund in a statement. “I would also like to thank the Vancouver Canucks and all of their fans for their support over the 11-plus seasons I was a part of their organization, as well as to the Pittsburgh Penguins where I began my NHL career.”

The debate will now begin amongst Canucks fans whether or not Naslund’s number 19 should be retired by the Canucks. He’s the Canucks all-time leading scorer with 756 points He holds the single season record for goals (48), assists (56) and points (104) by a left-winger. Statistically there is no doubt he has done enough for his number to hang beside Trevor Linden and Stan Smyl in the rafters of GM Place. He played here for over eleven seasons.

Naslund returned home to Sweden each off-season and never really called Vancouver “home”. It was important to him for his children to experience their culture and have some schooling in Sweden. In contrast, Linden and Smyl adopted our city as their home, and became hockey heroes, entrenched on our community. However, Naslund did enough in the community over his eleven seasons here to meet this criteria as well.

Where some will say Naslund falls short is playoff success. Both Smyl and Linden were part of Stanley Cup final teams. Linden saved his best for the post-season, and was always a post season warrior. Naslund’s teams always fell short, and many would argue underachieved under his captaincy.

Whatever the decision ends up being there is no doubt that Markus Naslund is one of the most talented players to ever wear a Canucks jersey. He played here long enough, put up club record numbers, and was the captain of this team for several years, as well as being a contributing member of the community. At the very least Naslund should be honoured in some way by the team, even if that doesn’t include raising the number 19 to the rafters.

The BC Lions have a policy of not retiring numbers, rather they honour their greats on a ring of honour in the stadium. Perhaps Naslund should be among the first inductees in a similar effort at GM Place.

My Top Ten Favourite Hockey Memories

Yes it’s that time of the year again, and at this time we all reflect about the year passed.  I’ll say one thing for me, it’s been good, bad, and ugly. All things occurring, I have to take responsibility and credit.  I’ve had a great year getting back into doing what I love most, writing. I want to thank Brian and Canuckscorner.com for giving the opportunity to continue to hone my skills and write about my favourite sports franchise in the world, the Vancouver Canucks.

I’m going to take a trip down memory lane today and talk about my 27 year tenure of being a Canucks fan.  My most memorable moments, not just on the ice, but just as a fan.   As I read, in another blog and article, the Canucks mean a lot to my life. In fact, I got the privilege to be a part of the Canucks family via work at one point in my life.

Sports and particularly hockey have been a big point of bonding with my father, who didn’t have any sons, so he took his eldest daughter to all the sporting events he could muster. Well, Dad, I just want to say it worked.  I am now more of a fanatic than you are. Thank you, Dad. I miss you and I will see you soon!

10) A Canucks Fan is Born: Before I was a Canucks fan I was a Winnipeg Jets fan, and my first ever NHL game I can recollect was at the Pacific Coliseum. It was the Canucks vs. Jets and I was so excited. My father got us great seats. Section G row 11. Oddly enough those were my season tickets to the Giants.  I remember I fell in love with the Canucks that night. They were my new team.  I was amazed by the play of two players in particular, #12 Stan Smyl and probably my early favourite #23 Thomas Gradin.  We didn’t win that night, but I remember Gradin scoring 2 goals and I was hooked.  This was the moment I was hooked as a Canucks fan. That was 1981,  a 6 year old Canuck junkie was born.

9) Canucks and Friendships: My first Canucks game with my friends without my father. It was 1985, I was 10 years old and our neighbourhood parents decided to buy a block of tickets for us neighbourhood kids to go to a game together. These were the days our parents could drop us off at the arena and pick us up after the game and be safe. It was an exciting time, we all had a blast. The Canucks actually beat the Oilers that night and were in rare form. I got the see Wayne Gretzky not score a goal that night. It was a rarity indeed. I remember my friend Mike yelling, “I’m a Canucks fan for life!”.Great time, good memories

8) Birth of Towel Power: Although I wasn’t there, I got to see this on TV, but I’m sure all Canucks fan remember Roger Nielsen’s “white towel” surrender to the officials. It was Chicago stadium, I was at home watching it with my family. When the Canucks came home to the Pacific Coliseum, my dad took me to that game and I’ve never seen so many white towels being swung ever. The Canucks came home to a hero’s welcome. I was just very fortunate to be a part of it. Towel Power was born.

7) The 1982 Cup Run: Being 7 years old, it was more about the excitement that surrounded me than the actual games themselves. The Canucks were a bunch of muckers and grinders with a few talent players here and there. Nothing like the Stanley Cup Final opponents in the Islanders. The Islanders were THE team back in those days. Although we were slaughtered in the finals in a sweep, I will never forget Bernie Pascal and his enthusiasm during his sports broadcasts talking about how this lunch bucket team has captured the hearts and imagination of the city.

6) Los Angeles 1988: I got to see Wayne Gretzky live for the first time as an LA King at the Great Western Forum. My dad had made that trip to see the Lakers and the Celtics with my uncle, and he saw how much I wanted to go and so he packed me up in the car and drove down to LA with him and my uncle. We went to the Lakers game the night before, which they won, and then got tickets to watch “The Great One” as an LA King for the first time. That was a new era in hockey. Gretzky scored two that night against the St Louis Blues.

5) Pavel Bure’s first game: I’ll never forget his first game at the Pacific Coliseum. It was against my old Winnipeg Jets. Wow. I was off my seat so much I must have hit the end of it when it was raised a few times too many that night. I was 16 years old.  The Russian Rocket was the most exciting player to ever put on a Canuck uniform bar none. Many good memories of the Russian Rocket, but seeing him for the first time that night, I knew he was the real deal.

4) Sweden 2000 Canucks Training Camp: Luckily for me, I was given the opportunity to go Sweden in 2000 and watch the Canucks do their training camp and part of their pre-season there. It was the first time I got to see the Sedins and of course Stockholm, Ornkoldsvik and many other things in Sweden.  Fascinating trip, outside of Canada, I don’t think there is a county that loves their hockey as much as the Swedes.

3) 2005 IIHF World Championships, Austria: Loving my work very much at this point and also my very last assignment for this conglomerate, I was able to see international hockey with NHL stars. It was the lockout year. I balanced my time between babysitting our favourite broadcaster and hanging out and getting some fantastic interviews with members of all the teams involved. I must say the one that I had with Brenden Morrison, his wife Erin and his parents, who live in Europe, one of the most fun. It was unfortunate that the Canadians didn’t win that tournament, but it showed how much the Czech team wanted to win it in front of many of their fans.

2) 1994 Stanley Cup Run: I know that this would be most peoples’ favourite hockey memory if you’re a Canucks fan, but it’s only second compared to mine for very personal reasons.  That run captured the imagination of not just the city but of the whole entire nation.  From the Calgary series when Robert Reichel was stoned by Kirk McLean and Bure’s winner in OT, from the Toronto series, the hardest fought 6 games and finally that heart breaking loss in the game 7 at MSG. I remember being at the airport and waiting for the team and they were applauded. I remember my friend getting arrested for lewd conduct on Robson Street, prior to the disgraceful rioting. It was just a magical run, it was just so sad, and to this day it still hurts, that the Canucks didn’t have the gas to finish the race.

1) January 2001, My Daughter’s first Canucks Game: Yes, this has got to be most memorable moment. My then three year old daughter was hooked on hockey. It was great to see her cheer for our boys and see her reaction to the crowd and take in the atmosphere of a hockey game.  She got her hot dog, her drink, her Canucks shirt and she was all set and very happy.  Passing on the love of hockey to my child to me is my most fond memory. It’s wonderful to know that she can share something I am so passionate about.

Yeah those are some pretty big memories for me as a hockey fan, and especially a Canuck fan.  I just wanted to share them with you all out there.  Remember why you love this team and why you love hockey. It’s beyond what goes on in the game.

Musings from the Mud…

Lotus Blossom