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

Is Linden Hall of Fame Worthy?

On a plane ride from Toronto to Vancouver, I was getting excited because I got to go home to Vancouver and catch some Canucks games on the west coast and of course the pending trip to LA and Anaheim to see the Canucks play in Southern California. (That’s another column in itself).  I was very fortunate to sit next to a Canucks fan. He was wearing his Linden jersey, so I assumed that he was a Nucks fan and I decided to strike up a conversation.  He obliged.

Linden BannerWe talked about what happened last year and how far the Canucks can potentially go in this upcoming season.  We both had high hopes and then there was a small silence. He then brought up that Linden was his favourite Canuck of all time and asked me which Canucks was my favourite. I responded with Trevor Linden.  I wasn’t surprised, he was in and around my age (34) and we both grew up in that era of Canucks hockey.

He also brought up the topic of Trevor Linden making the Hall Of Fame.  I wasn’t sure how to respond. I had a confused look on my face.  He kept rambling on how Trevor was the heart and soul of the Canucks and how he has done so much for the organization under different ownership(s) etc, etc, etc.  I finally responded with, “Trevor Linden is not a Hall of Fame Player”.  I think he was about ready to slap me, but instead, I got the “you’re not a real Canucks fan” response.  I wasn’t going to argue so I just said”You’re right, I am not a real Canucks fan, I am hockey fan who happens to favour the Canucks as her team of choice.”

My fellow fan was just flabbergasted that I would not induct Vancouver’s Golden Boy, Trevor Linden, into the Hockey Hall of Fame like most Canucks fans would.  I gave him my explanation, like I am going to give it to you, the readers.

When I say this Canucks fans, please don’t bombard my email with hate mail about how I am not a Canucks fan because I don’t love Trevor Linden.  Fact is, I love Trevor Linden, and he is truly my favourite Canuck of all time.  He was truly a great asset to the organization when he was a part of it, and not to mention the community of the Lower Mainland.  Linden embraced Vancouver and Vancouver embraced Trevor Linden.  It was a love affair that was instantaneous and life-long.

I am a huge Trevor Linden fan, but even with Canucks –coloured glasses on, Trevor Linden is not HOF material as a player.  Heck he’s not even our leading goal scorer of all time in the club record books.  It’s sad to say but towards the end of his career, Trevor’s abilities and foot speed, decreased so much that even an ardent Linden fan as me could no longer deny it.

I did however love seeing flashes of classic Linden during the playoffs. He was definitely clutch.   Still, he’s not my choice as a player to go to the HOF. The HOF is the best of the best, and as much as Vancouver fans love Trevor, he’s not or even close to that echelon of player. To say any different, would be a delusion of grandeur.

So I stand by it, Trevor Linden was not a good enough player to be considered for the Hockey Hall of Fame. He was a good hockey player with an extraordinary heart, mindset, and a conscience for the game, the fans, and the city that gave him so much.  I`m sure he`ll even agree with me.  He`s not the best of the best, but he certainly played amongst them, and played well I might add.

However, I believe that Trevor Linden will be in the HHOF, and no, not as a visitor, but he will be inducted in due time.  He has a chance to be inducted in the “Builders” category.  For the years he`s spent as the NHLPA president and playing a huge role in bringing hockey back after a year-long lockout, I believe he will get his day and his respect.

So my flight companion was partially right, Trevor Linden is worthy of the HOF, just not as a player.

Compromise?

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.

Alex Burrows:Working Class Hero

If there was ever a lunch bucket story in a Vancouver Canucks Uniform, it would be Alexandre Burrows.  His humble beginnings of his professional hockey career to the type of player he has developed into is truly amazing.   Gathered from current and former teammates of Burrows, he’s a great guy to have in the dressing and his work ethic on the ice is inspiring to all. [Read more...]

The salary cap is leveling the playing field

So Canucks fan, admit it.

You heard me…admit that when you heard that Mats Sundin had signed with the Canucks a little part of you felt like yelling “In your face New York!” Poor Larry Brooks of the New York Post had Vancouver pegged for dead.

Thus, with the NHL holiday roster freeze going into effect Friday night at midnight and lasting through midnight Dec. 27, Sundin – who has a $10M offer on the table from the Canucks that he obviously is in no hurry to accept – is likely to remain unsigned until late in the month.

So did I. I get and respect that Sundin took his time deciding if he wanted to play this year. But once he decided and the longer this went on, I figured the Canucks were being kept around as insurance and as a bargaining tool.

In a pre salary cap era, the Vancouver Canucks would have had no chance of gettting Mats Sundin, because the the New York Rangers, or other teams would out bid everyone. Not knowing what really happened behind the scenes, it appeared on the surface that Sundin’s first choice was to sign with New York. It would also appear that the Rangers couldn’t clear enough cap space to make this happen, thus making the choice of the Canucks too good to pass up.

It’s kind of ironic that the Canucks honoured Trevor Linden the night before the announcement, who’s involvement with the current salary cap deal was monumental. Perhaps in an unintentional way it was Linden’s gift to the fans.

At this point Sundin is a rental player. There is no guarantee he signs for another season, and the Canucks won’t be on the hook for another year if either party wants to go in a different direction.

The signing has given the Canucks two lines that can score overnight. If the defense can get and stay healthy, and Luongo recovers and gets on a roll, this team could be a force to be reckoned in the west. With the cap room Gillis enjoyed now gone, and further tweaks to the roster will have to be through trades.

For years the Canucks were always the wiling partner who just couldn’t shell out that extra to lure free agents. Fans sat by and watched as the Colorado’s, Detroit’s and New York’s of the world loaded up already stacked rosters. Now the salary cap has leveled that playing field, and that’s a great thing for the league, and on Wednesday it was a great thing for Canucks fans.

Just ask the New York Rangers.