Top-10 Canucks References in TV and Film


On Monday night, Vancouver born actress (and Lord Byng alumnus) Cobie Smulders donned Canucks apparel – as she’s often done – in portraying her tomboy Canadian character Robin Scherbatsky on How I Met Your Mother. 

In honour of Robin Scherbatsky’s continued love for the Canucks, we figured we’d countdown the top-10 Canucks related references in TV/Film. Read on past the jump.

# 10 – Trevor Linden in Hockey Night in Burnaby

The above image obviously taken from Vancouver’s cavernous Bond-villain style dressing room (things were really bad in the player comfort department before Mike Gillis took over) is from Being Ian, a Canadian animated series that aired on YTV in the mid-aughts. If I’m not mistaken, the above screen shot features the cartoon likenesses of Matthias Ohlund (the blonde bombshell wearing number two), Markus Naslund (the blonde with the square chin beside Ohlund), Dan Cloutier (the old style mask is a dead give away), Jarkko "Frida Kahlo" Ruutu, and probably Todd Bertuzzi sleeping on the ground…

Here’s how this happened; during the 2004-05 lockout Trevor Linden had some extra time on his hands and was featured in an episode of the series called "Hockey Night in Burnaby." Apparently at one point in the epiosde, Trevor Linden loses his temper and turns into a hulk-like green monster. This unknown ailment that afflicted Trevor Linden is presumably part of the reason why the West Coast Express era Canucks used a cave instead of a standard dressing room.

Here’s the episode description from Sarah Baisley of the Animation World Network: 

It’s Ian’s dream-come-true when he is allowed to accompany Odbald to GM Place while he fixes the Canuck’s organ. What he doesn’t know is that Korey and Kyle have secretly tagged along and their bad behaviour is about to get them banned from their favourite hockey team’s arena for life. Luckily Ian’s video editing skills gets them on team star Trevor Linden’s good side.

So basically, 8 years later and Ian has grown a beard and changed his name to Wyatt Arndt. Cool!

# 9 – CW’s Secret Circle Pulls their Hammy Stretching for a Ryan Kesler Reference

If you ask most people about the CW network, they’ll tell you two things. One, most of the shows on the network are terrible and two, most of them are filmed in Vancouver.

In this clip from an episode of the series that aired in March of last year, one of the characters is advised by her male friend to start up a conversation with some jock hockey player/Queens engineer by bringing up hockey. Here’s the approach she takes (via the Vancouver Province):

"I was just wondering if you caught the Canucks game last night," she says as he stares at her in awe. "It’s kinda crazy, when I watched Kesler, it totally reminded me of your game and how he caught the breakaway and deked the defenceman. It was like your move in the third period of the conference finals when you tried that slap shot and scored from the blueline."

 And you thought post-game interviews with hockey players featured awkward dialogue!

There’s little to redeem this particular Canucks reference, except for the fact that it really bothered Pass it to Bulis’ Daniel Wagner who sputtered (emphasis his):

Let’s break this down: she’s talking about Kesler getting a breakaway and then dekeing a defenceman. That’ s not how breakaways work. If you have to deke a defenceman, it’s not a breakaway. Actually, it’s worse: she says that Kesler “caught the breakaway.” A breakaway isn’t a type of pass. But it gets even worse: she compares this to a goal scored by “Kyle” on a slap shot from the blueline. A breakaway is nothing like a slap shot from the blueline.

Amen, brother. This is just embarrasing. 

# 8 – Lyrki Lumme in Beach Combers on Ice

Hey look at the guy third from the left. It’s Jyrki Lumme and his famed flat blade!

Beachcombers on Ice is a 2004 B movie about a small town con-artist seeking redemption. The plot is absurdly convoluted, but basically involves a showdown at a celebrity hockey game between a reformed con-artist and two current ones who try and rip the town off. Luckily, former Canucks players Jyrki Lumme, Kirk MacLean and Tiger Williams show up, win the game for the good guys, and the reformed con-artist finds love because why the hell not. 

The only really great thing to come out of this is that Jyrki Lumme has an IMDB page.

# 7 – Jim Hughson’s Voice Cuts Through the Tension in Ghost Writer

In the 2010 film "Ghost Writer," Ewan MacGregor plays a writer who is hired to re-write the memoirs of a Pierce Brosnan character, a former Prime Minister who lives in the United States for fear of being charged for War Crimes (he’s loosely based off of Tony Blair). It’s a moody thriller, and a damn fine film that is absolutely rife with tension throughout. 

About 36 minutes into the film, MacGregor’s character sits in a bar drinking copiously and watching a news report about the International Criminal Court and their efforts to arrest the man who has retained MacGregor’s services. He asks the bartender to change the channel, and she obliges, flipping on a Canucks game. 

The Canucks are playing the Blues in the tilt, and the game is being called by Jim Hughson. The film actually uses the game – and the idea that MacGregor is paying attention to it and doesn’t want to be disturbed by a creepy character insitent on chatting with him – as a device, and Hughson’s game call is audible for about 30 seconds. Here’s a partial transcript:

"Matthias Ohlund is out on the point the power-play between Edler, Henrik Sedin back to the front of the net. Matthias Ohlund, Henrik Sedin to Daniel, here comes Alexander Edler, Henrik Sedin on the other side, Ohlund backs up to receive the pass and he couldn’t handle the puck."

Eventually MacGregor’s character can no longer avoid talking to the creepy British guy in the bar, and the sound of Hughson’s voice is diminished. However you can still make out a few things, like how Jason Jaffray #29 was back in the lineup, or that Markus Naslund took a shot that was saved by Manny Legace, or how Lukas Kraijcek tried a slap pass that was ineffective. 

As a result of Hughson’s presence, the scene is basically ruined for any Canucks fan who watches the film. It’s supposed to be a leering, ominous bar encounter; and instead Hughson’s voice inserts a degree of nostalgia that completely supersedes any Canucks fan’s ability to suspend their disbelief.

# 6 – Todd Bertuzzi Can’t Act Good

Todd Bertuzzi on ‘Cold Squad’ from Sandra Forsell on Vimeo.

I’m not sure how this happened, or why, but Todd Bertuzzi played a cameo role in the series "Cold Squad" as a trash talking Vancouver cop. In doing so he proved that he can’t act. In the above clip, from an episode called "True Believers" he beaks one of the show’s main characters, who had been suspended and is only just returning to general duty. It’s not Secret Circle awkward, but Bertuzzi doesn’t sell it all that well.

So let this be a lesson to you Hollywood Casting agents out there – if wou want a Canucks power-forward with acting experience, cast Ryan Kesler.

# 5 – Stargate SG-1 has a High Opinion of the Canucks’ Warrior Prowess 

Stargate SG:1 is a television series, filmed in Vancouver, about an Elite Air Force unit tasked with managing the "Stargates" (basically ancient portals between planets). Also, like seemingly all crummy science fiction films (i.e. Prometheus) the aliens had a massive impact on the development of the ancient societies of Earth – in Stargate’s case, the aliens basically speak Egyptian.

In this particular scene, two fo the main characters are reminiscing about hockey (for whatever reason), when the one character with the weird insignia on his head declares: "I believe the Canucks of Vancouver are superior warriors."

Obviously he’s new to the sport…

# 4 – Mallrats: The Canucks NEVER lose to the Hartford Whalers

Director and writer Kevin Smith is a massive hockey fan, but the Canucks have only ever been referenced in one of his films. Luckily that film was Mallrats, which was made before Kevin Smith crossed the "Dogma" line and began producing mostly hackneyed, predictable junk (though to be honest, I shame enjoyed Zack and Miri Make a Porno). 

At one point in the film, the Jason Lee character is playing a hockey video game while his girlfriend tries to get him to join her for breakfast. He’s playing against the Canucks with the Hartford Whalers (may their memory rest in peace), and is winning 12-2. Lee responds to his girlfriend’s entreaties with this wicked line: 

"Breakfasts come and go, Rene, but Hartford? The Whale? They only beat Vancouver maybe once, twice in a lifetime."

In 2004, Kevin Smith was interviewed by Culture Dogs who asked him about that line in particular. Here’s how it came about according to Smith:

That was a last minute addition… right before we shot that scene. You know, I was a huge EA Sports NHL 93-94 fan and played it on the original Sega system all the time. And right before we shot that scene I called Walter Flanagan, who’s a huge hockey fan, and said, “Dude, the two worst possible teams that could play one another on EA.” And he was just like “Hartford, and Vancouver. The Whalers and the Canucks.” And he was like “If you’re going to reference the Whalers though, make sure you call them ‘The Whale’.” And I was like “Really?” And he said “Oh, God yes.” So there it was."

A quick sidenote, it’s been roughly 20 years since NHL 93 came out. In that game, the Canucks were one of the "worst possible teams" you could select. Now a days, everyone who regularly plays NHL2013 on-line thinks you’re a cheap jack-ass if you ever select the Canucks. The sheer number of "Canucks are soo cheap, glitcher" messages I’ve gotten on PSN after beating an equally cheap team like the Red Wings, would take hours to go through. So the Canucks have come a long way as a franchise, at least where video games are concerned.

# 3 – Reitman plugs the Canucks spaghetti skate logo at the Oscars

Canadian director Jason Reitman lives in Los Angeles and is one of those "celebrity" Canucks fans. In 2010 he was nominated by the academy for "best director" for his work on the George Clooney vehicle "Up in the Air." He ultimately lost out to Kathryn Bigelow, but he still represented himself extremely well at the ceremony. Most impressively, during his "best director montage" during that year’s Academy Award’s telecast, he was shown wearing a t-shirt featuring the "Cliff Ronning era Canucks logo." Sadly, I can’t find a screen shot on-line but it was a good looking shirt.

Simply wearing a t-shirt might not seem like it deserves to be up there with some of the other references we’ve covered, but the Oscars are kind of a big deal. They’re watched by millions upon millions of people worldwide, many of whom presumably reacted to the image of Reitman’s t-shirt by saying: "huh, what the hell is that red and yellow monstrosity on Reitman’s t-shirt?" That counts for something.

# 2 – Collected Canucks References From How I Met Your Mother

As far as "Canucks references" on How I Met Your Mother go, Smulders’ slick Canucks shirt – the one that was the impetus for this entire post – was only on screen for about seven seconds on Monday night. Needless to say, that reference isn’t in the same league as say "Robin threatening to give Lily summer teeth while wearing a Luongo jersey," or her bragging about having met Mason Raymond.

What’s cool about Robin’s Canucks fandom is that it’s refrenced consistently in the series. She’s not just a casual Canucks fan, she’s a rabid fan – the type who gets angry and yells throughout the game. This fact about her has become as central a part of Robin’s personal mythology as, say, her early career as a Canadian teenage music star (Robin Sparkles). As Chris Richards wrote over at the Province about a year ago, "Roseanne had the Chicago Bears, Cheers had the Boston Red Sox, and How I Met Your Mother has the Vancouver Canucks."

# 1 – "Kick his Ass Sea Bass" (Dumb and Dumber)

Former Canucks forward Cam Neely appears regularly in Farrely Brothers films, but his most memorable appearance – by a mile – was in Dumb and Dumber. In the film he portrays Sea Bass, a simple bully who Lloyd and Harry offend when they hitt him with a salt shaker in a diner.

"Believe me I would never do anything to intentionally offend a man of your size," Harry tells Sea Bass (echoing the sentiments of many of Cam Neely’s NHL opponents). 

The pair proceed to stick Sea Bass with their bill, but Neely’s character catches up to them down the road resulting in this iconic scream:

Just classic.

Share your thoughts, Canucks fans! Did I miss anything?

Big thanks to Harrison Mooney and the Good Folks at CDC for helping me compile this post.