5 Canucks That Recent History Won’t Let Us Forget

I’ve been in Vancouver, BC since 1999, and in that time, have been witness to the growth of the fan base of the Canucks, and the fervor with which the city follows the team. Heroes and scapegoats are made on almost a daily basis with fans here demanding perfection from all their players. Wearing the jersey of the Canucks comes with a great responsibility, and let’s be honest, there are a few players we wish never put the blue and green(or dark purple and silver) on. While many have come and gone in the 12 years I have been here, these are 5 players that our recent history refuses to let us forget, even as much as we might like to.

Mark Messier

Canuck from 1997-2000

Thomas Drance spoke very recently on Messier being the worst captain in Canucks history(which is interesting when you consider that Roberto Luongo was probably one of the worst choices for captain in the entire NHL’s history, and such NHL all-stars as Chris Oddleifson, André Boudrias, and Doug Lidster have held the honour) and it’s hard to disagree with him. Whenever you imagine Mark Messier, pretty much the last jersey you put him in is the one of the Vancouver Canucks–unless you’re a Canucks fan. Stealing the captaincy from ultimate mancrush Trevor Linden instantly upon his arrival in 1997, Messier was nothing but an epic failure in a Canucks uniform, a guy who signed a preposterous contract and made a whole big deal about “returning to Canada”, when really what he meant was “I’m returning to Canada to lay this giant egg I’ve been meaning for a long time.” He then slapped us all in the face by posting 67 points in his return to the Rangers in 2000, 7 more points than he put up in his best season wearing the Orca.

Dan Cloutier

Canuck from 2001-2006

Every so often, a goalie will come along that makes you wonder exactly how they were given a job in the NHL. Mercifully, many of these goalies have a good season and then exit from whence they came: Jim Carey, Dan Blackburn, Andrew Raycroft(wait, he’s still in the NHL? Really? Wow.), and countless others. Unfortunately for us, Dan Cloutier had his one good season, but he was so bad after that and in the playoffs that it’s hard to remember that it even happened. In 2003-04, Cloutier put up sparkling numbers: a .914 save percentage, a 2.27 GAA, and 5 shutouts. Unfortunately, he never came even close to that again, posting sub-.900 save percentages in his next season with the Canucks, and was never higher than .908 with the team to begin with, in the Dead Puck Era, no less. And of course, we can’t forget the infamous goal from centre ice, and the countless beach ball .jpgs and .gifs to follow. When it comes to garbage goaltending, Cloutier sets a standard, and Canuck haters have never let us forget it.

Mats Sundin

Canuck for a Day in 2009

You know what the worst part about the Mats Sundin signing was? When the playoffs ended in 2009, many Canucks stores had Sundin jerseys left over, and we all knew he wasn’t coming back. They had racks and racks of them, in fact. And they put the jerseys on sale, most for half-price, some for even less than that, frantically trying to get rid of them. Which led many fairweather Canucks fans to recognize a deal when they saw one, and snatch them up. They should have been burned. Any time one steps foot around Rogers Arena, they’re likely to see a Canucks jersey with “Sundin 13” on the back, a painful reminder of that ridiculous contract, that poor performance, and that Nosferatu-like scar on the franchise’s collective memory.

Matt Cooke

Canuck from 2000-2008

While we’ve tried for the last three years to forget that “Cookie” ever laced up the skates for the Canucks, mainstream media has failed to ever let us forget it. While he was never suspended as a member of the Canucks, his checkered recent past leads him to be connected to Vancouver, as though the city bred a monster to be unleashed on the remainder of the NHL. It seems every article you read on Cooke’s recent foul-ups talked about his past as a Canuck, to the point where members of the Vancouver media were forced to defend him, his family, and his time here. I can’t remember the last time a former team had to be so involved in the transgressions of a player, but with Cooke, there seems to be some sort of invisible thread that ties him to the Canucks forever, and it’s one that needs to be severed.

Anson Carter

Canuck from 2005-2006

This is as much about the Sedins as it is about Anson Carter, and this one is just the worst, isn’t it? Every single time the Sedin line(or more specifically, the “other guy” on their line) comes up for debate, you hear the all-too-familiar refrain, “well, if Anson Carter could score 30 goals playing with the Sedins, so too could (insert player here),” as though the Sedin twins could carry a broomstick with dreadlocks to a 30-goal season.

While Carter failed after picking up big money from the Columbus Blue Jackets after that fateful season with the Canucks, what many forget is that Carter was a downright productive player before that, putting up back-to-back seasons of 55+ points with the Edmonton Oilers, averaging more than 40 points a year in 4 years with the Bruins(all 4 were also seasons cut short by injury), and was a power forward in an era where those forwards were most prominent and most efficient. And it wasn’t as though 33 goals was an insane number for him: he had 28 goals in 2000-01 for the Oilers(i.e. not assisted by “Sedin Magic”), and would’ve cracked 30 in 2001-02 if it wasn’t for injury, as he notched 25 in 68 games, a 30-goal pace. Carter was a perfect fit for the Sedin twins at that time, as they lacked the ability to play as physically as they do now, and were still molding their game into the back-to-back Art Ross seasons of the last two years. The shaming of many a right winger at the expense of Anson Carter will likely never stop so long as the Sedins man the first line for the Canucks, and it’s an argument as tired as Shane O’Brien after a Vancouver night out (it really never gets old, does it?).

  • RKD

    Once he got his legs back (or as much as he could get them back at that age), Sundin was pretty strong down the stretch and was one of the best Canucks in the Chicago series that year. His impact on Kesler can not be overlooked, either.

    Was it stupid to have to wait half the season for him to make up his mind? Sure. Was the initial contract offer completely ridiculous? Of course. But my memories of him are mostly positive, and given the other guys on this list, I’m not sure how he fits in.

  • John Cullen

    Hey Justin,

    I see your point about Sundin, and it’s an absolutely valid one. He did play well, and while I’m not sure exactly how much impact he had on Kesler, who was already turning into an excellent player, he certainly wasn’t a negative.

    I just think a lot of people give our fanbase a really hard time about it, because of the whole sitting out the year/contract fiasco, hence the fact that we simply can’t forget them.

  • I don’t get what the big deal about Sundin was. The contract was one year, we had the cap to afford it, he had a positive effect on Kesler, and it let the organization trumpet about Van is a free agent destination.

    It’s just Aquilini’s money.

    • Mantastic

      how could the organization trumpet about Van about being a free agent destination with sundin’s signing? was it the fact that they couldn’t convince him to join the canucks until half way through the season? or that he didn’t resign the following year for the same money?

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  • John Cullen

    Did not know Cookie had zip suspensions with the Canucks. That comes as a big surprise considering how many years he spent with the team as opposed to how long he’s been with Pittsburgh…and how many suspensions he’s already had. Guess you learn something new everyday.

  • John Cullen

    Great post! Reaching further into the past, I would add Vladimir Krutov to this list. Even though I was only 6 during his season with the Canucks, I was aware of the ridiculous hype that accompanied him and Larionov when they signed. I think the only comparison I could make is if Ovechkin and Datsyuk played together in Russia right now and then signed with the Canucks this coming summer. Krutov was freakin’ AMAZING in the Soviet Union (something I only came to realize well after his NHL career ended).

    Sadly, Krutov managed a paltry 34 points in 61 games in 1989-90 and never played another game in the NHL after that. Honestly one of the biggest disappointing NHL signings of all-time, in my opinion.

    • John Cullen

      Thanks Mark!

      Awesome point re: Krutov, totally agree. I have only been in Vancouver since ’99, so admittedly, my knowledge of the team before that is a bit limited as I lived in the Eastern Time Zone, so I didn’t see a ton of games.