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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?).