Vancouver Canucks

Wed, 18 Mar 2009 08:23

History of Vancouver Canucks

Information about the NHL team Vancouver Canucks.

The Vancouver Canucks is based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The team being a professional ice hockey team, is a member of the Northwest Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL) that play home games at he General Motor Place seating a capacity of 18,630.

The team joined the league in 1970 at the same time with Buffalo Sabres as an expansion team. In the history of NHL, the team’s twice attempt to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals was lost to both New York teams: in 1982 the Islanders and in 1994 the Rangers.

The Early Years of the Franchise (1970-1982)

Since 1911, professional hockey has been played in the city simultaneously. In 1926, Vancouver was a minor league city by the Vancouver Canucks playing from 1945 to 1970 in the minor professional Western Hockey League as well as the Pacific Coast Hockey League.

At that time, the NHL expansion took a westward expansion making a forgone conclusion that big-league hockey would return to Vancouver. With this, the city’s certain success broke ground for a modern arena in 1967, the Pacific Coliseum. An attempt for the Canucks WHL Canucks to apply and make a bid to join the league in 1967 was turned down. It was until three years later that another group from Vancouver made a bid and was successful in acquiring an expansion franchise paying $6 million.   

This move paved way for the WHL Canucks to join the league through the purchase of the new ownership group. The team joined the league along with Buffalo Sabres for the games of the 1970-71 season. With Kurtenbuach as the first captain, the team played against the Los Angeles Kings on October 1970 in its inaugural game. In two days, the team scored 5-3 over the Toronto Maple Leafs for the first franchise win.

Vancouver was grouped in the powerful East Division for the first four seasons despite its location in the west coast. Though blessed with a few capable players, the team failed to make the playoffs during its early years. The Canucks were then placed in the new Smythe Division during the realignment for the 1974 season. The response was a first winning record that finished first in the division. The team made it to the playoffs again the next year but the two-game preliminary series was lost to the New York Islanders.

The Years of Decline and Resurgence (1982-1900)

The Canucks went into another state of mediocrity after their improbable Stanley Cup during the rest of 1980s, having to join the playoffs only four times. Most of the second half of the 1980s was a competition with the Los Angeles Kings for the Smythe Division final playoff spot. With every chance they got to the playoff, they were ousted by the Edmonton Oilers in 1986 or present-day popular Calgary Flames in 1983, 1984 and 1989. Thus to go to the Conference Finals, the team would then have to get past either the Oilers or the Flames.

After Pat Quinn took the post as the general manager in 1988, the Canucks rose to popularity in the early 1990s. This chance was roughly around the time when the Flames and Oilers began to move down in standing. With luck, the Canucks survived in the new atmosphere created by the rise in the salaries of players. In 1992 and 1993, the team won regular season division titles consecutively though would be ousted by Oilers and Kings, respectively, during the playoffs.

The Canucks made a second game to the Finals in 1994 entering the playoffs in the newly renamed Western Conference. Again they embarked on a Cinderella run to the finals just like in 1982. Their first-round match-up with their rival, the Calgary Flames, was victorious during the seven-game series. From this upset, the team proceeded to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs and Dallas Stars in five games prior to facing the New York Rangers (President’s Trophy winner) in the Stanley Cup Finals.  

On June 19, 1994, largely due to a 52-save performance by goaltender McLean, the Canucks gained victory in Game 1 as well as Games 5 and 6 after losing Games 2, 3 and 4 to force a 7th game at Madison Square Garden. In the lockout shortened 1995 season, the team played mediocre hockey finishing .500 and also finishing two games in 1996 below .500 however were able to join the playoffs in the end failing to repeat their performance during the 1994 playoffs.

The team would soon be moving to a new arena, the general Motor Place and the expectations were high. Trade offs were made from the Dallas Stars and Buffalo Sabres with head coach Quinn focusing on his duties as general manager in an effort to get an improved performance. The in 1995, team was swept out by Chicago Blackhawks during the second round and in 1996 defeated by the Stanley Cup-winner Colorado Avalanche during the first round. The team also missed the playoffs during the 1996-97 season despite of the strong performances by players such as Mogilny and Martin Gelinas.

The 1997 off-season for the Canucks was a record for a sign in of free agent Mark Messier; a management committee replaced GM Pat Quinn being fired; Mike Keenan assumed Renney’s general manager and coaching duties. The 1998-99 season was the worst for the Canucks as Keenan was fired midway and replaced by Marc Crawford. Though the Canucks missed the post-season again, it was a great chance to draft future stars Henrik Sedin and Daniel who were both Entry Draft that year.      
Though expectations were low for the Canucks during the 1999-00 season, they fought for a playoff spot during the entire season and ending on the second to the last game. Another trade was done with Jersey Devils and at the season end Naslund was chosen as the new team captain.

The “West Coast Express” Years (2001-2005)

The 2000 training camp was held in Stockholm, and the Canucks played against Finnish and Swedish teams in the NHL Challenge. The team once again became a layoff contender and these years were the heyday of the “West Coast Express” line with centre Brendan Morrison, strong forward right wing Todd Bertuzzi and high-scoring left-winger Markus Naslund.  The Canucks returned to the playoffs in 2001 a rebuilt team playing against the first-place Colorado Avalanche but lost the game due to the absence of Naslund suffering a broken leg. The 2001-2002 season was a game against the Detroit Red Wings with the Canucks leading a 2-0 score and later taken over by the Detroit who finally won the Stanley Cup championship.

The 2003 for the Canucks organization made personal highs with Naslund finishing the season with 104 points, sufficient to make the second-highest in the league. On the other hand, Bertuzzi finished fifth with 97 and Cloutier posting a franchise record of 7 shutouts. The team won the playoff series against the St. Louis Blues, the first time in eight years span but lost to the upstart Minnesota Wild.

In 2004, Bertuzzi damaged, maybe irreparably, his reputation after punching from behind on-ice Steve Moore of the Colorado Avalanche. Despite winning the NW division title in this season, the Canucks would fall in the first round of the playoffs to their division rival, the Calgary Flames, who would go on to compete in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Post Lockout to Alain Vigneault era (2005 – present)

With the 2005-06 beginning with much promise, new free agents were signed in; however, the team failed to meet the expectations and landed the regular season with a disappointing 9th place to their Conference.

Alain Vigneault was hired to coach the team replacing Crawford on June 20, 2006. Following trades with Florida Panthers, the Canucks won the Northwest Division title for the second time out of three seasons over the San Jose Sharks on April 7, 2007. The 2007 playoffs garnered the Canucks with a quadruple-overtime win against the Dallas Stars, their first time opponents.

With key players inflicted with some serious injuries, beginning from the training camp, the 2007-2008 season did not start significantly well. Once again due to injuries, the Canucks were without Ohlund, Raymond, and Morrison to come up short in the crucial games during the nine-game season-finale. This resulted in the team missing the playoffs for the second time in a period of three years.