In honour of Halloween, here are a few of the scariest players to don the Orca crest over the past 10 seasons. Scary, of course, has a variety of meanings. For the purposes of this column, it could describe a player’s appearance, his lack of quality of play, or the colour of his visor (spoiler alert).
Even though they were blessed with a goaltender like Dan Cloutier at the time (to be fair, this was pre- Lidstrom goal Cloutier), the Canucks reached out at the beginning of the 2001-02 season to acquire Brochu. When the news broke, many fans were excited when they read the headline: “Canucks sign goaltender Martin Bro…..chu?” Needless to say, not the final few letters they were hoping for. Brochu came in and his level of goaltending was absolutely ghastly. In six games with the Canucks, he finished with a goals against average of 4.17 and a save percentage just north of .850. He was promptly kicked to the curb (or the AHL, whatever you want to call it) where he wasn’t allowed to haunt the nightmares of Vancouver defensemen ever again.
Brochu’s six game stint wasn’t enough to really hurt Vancouver’s season, but he provided enough of a scare to get the fans clamouring for Cloutier to play more.
Spook factor: The Hills Have Eyes (because Brochu certainly didn’t).
The Canucks made a few trades at the 2006 deadline in order to shore up some depth issues on the back end. Keith Carney came in and played decent hockey in a top four role, so he won’t get a nomination for the list. The only thing Weinrich did was keep the goal judge busy. In 16 games, he recorded zero points and amassed a hauntingly bad minus-13 rating. His play was bad enough on his own, but he took the roster spot from a promising rookie defenseman impressing in a limited role – Kevin Bieksa.
The Canucks ended up nose-diving their way out of postseason contention, and Weinrich played a big part in that. The fact that he is most known for his bright yellow visor says all you need to know about this frightful former Canuck.
Spook factor: Ghostface in Scream 2. Just like Sidney foolishly thought she was safe in a new town, Bieksa thought his roster spot was rock solid.
The Jan Bulis show rolled into Vancouver in 2006, and it won’t soon be forgotten. Bulis made the news for a variety of reasons – getting called out by his dad, piggybacking opposing players, and generally looking like a James Bond villain’s henchman. He was brought in to supply speed and secondary scoring. He was actually somewhat of a serviceable player in a two-way role, but his offensive game was nonexistent. He became a bit of a whipping boy for the fan base, and on a larger scale he represents a string of questionable free agent signings, including Marc Chouinard and Tommi Santala.
Spook factor: Cat Boy from the Grudge. Imagine having a half-human half-cat ghost living in your attic? Now imagine Jan Bulis living there. What’s creepier?
Ryan Johnson was a very solid fourth line player in St. Louis, and the Canucks paid a premium for him during the 2008 offseason (a two year deal with a cap hit north of $1 million was a nice chunk of change for a fourth line center at the time). He was described as a hard-working faceoff specialist who excelled on the penalty kill. Johnson seemed like a great guy and he busted his ass for two years with the team, but he sent chills down collective spine of the Vancouver fan base each time he was sent out to kill off a penalty. He seemed to not only be willing to block shots, but eager to jump in the way of vulcanized rubber.
He would gladly turn the puck over to opposing defensemen if it provided him an opportunity to launch his body in front of a shot. If you have never seen a chicken run around with its head cut off, Johnson did a spot on impression of it in the defensive zone. For those of you who are into fancy advanced statistics, Johnson had the worst Corsi rating in the entire NHL during his first season as a Canuck. Scary stuff.