The Vancouver Canucks recently announced that Henrik and Daniel Sedin will have their jerseys retired during the 2019/20 season—a ceremony that will no doubt be the centerpiece of the celebration of the team’s 50th year. One gets the feeling, however, that the anniversary season will contain a number of smaller-scale festivities, and the rather empty Ring of Honour presents a significant opportunity to laud the Canucks of the past.
As of now, the Ring of Honour contains just six names—Orland Kurtenbach, Kirk McLean, Thomas Gradin, Harold Snepsts, Pat Quinn, and Mattias Ohlund. While that sextet certainly represents a wide swath of the team’s history, there are a number of other retired—or nearly retired—Former Canucks who could be argued as deserving of recognition. Below, we’ll break down the odds of induction for each potential honouree.
Alex Burrows (2 to 1 Odds)
The Ring of Honour was made for players like Alex Burrows. He was the heart and soul of the team during the franchise’s best years ever and probably has one of the most inspiring personal stories in Canucks history, but Burrows just doesn’t have the career numbers to justify a number retirement. It just wouldn’t seem right to celebrate the Sedins in 2020 without honouring their ultimate wingman, and putting Burr on display in Rogers Arena is the perfect way to do that. If you’re betting on one individual to enter the Ring as its seventh honouree, bet on Burrows—and bet on the accompanying image being of Burrows firing an arrow in memory of Luc Bourdon.
Roberto Luongo (5 to 1 Odds)
As the greatest goaltender in franchise history, Roberto Luongo probably should have higher odds of entering the Ring of Honour than Alex Burrows. The only reason he’s lower on the list is that there’s still a solid possibility that the Canucks will choose to retire Luongo’s jersey instead—and, of course, the fact that he’s yet to retire. Luongo—or, at the very least, his contract—could end up back in Vancouver before all is said-and-done thanks to his potential cap recapture penalty, but it’s guaranteed that he’ll be back in town for one form of celebration or another whenever his deal officially expires.
Kevin Bieksa (10 to 1 Odds)
Few—if any—players will go down in the lore of the Vancouver Canucks as more popular or likeable than the man they call “Juice.” Kevin Bieksa was never an All-Star defenseman, but he always stepped up his game when the team needed him most—particularly on the journey to the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. It could certainly be argued that no individual has had a greater impact on the culture of a roster than Bieksa did during his time in Vancouver, and one can only hope that—whenever his retirement becomes official—he finds himself involved in hockey media in some capacity, if only so that he can cover his own induction into the Ring of Honour.
Ryan Kesler (10 to 1 Odds)
There once was a time when the inclusion of a Selke-winning, 41-goal scoring center into the Ring of Honour would have seemed like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, Ryan Kesler’s tenure with the Canucks didn’t exactly end on a positive note. Kesler’s perhaps overly-narrow trade demands soured his reputation with a majority of the fanbase, but time heals all wounds. Whenever Kesler retires—something that will likely occur in the next few seasons if his health is any indication—enough time will have passed since his departure to allow the organization to reflect more objectively on his accomplishments, and grant him his rightful place in the Ring.
Richard Brodeur (15 to 1 Odds)
King Richard Brodeur is often the forgotten man in the annals of Canuck crease history. Brodeur’s career achievements have been overshadowed by those of Kirk McLean and Roberto Luongo, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be included in the Ring of Honour. Brodeur put up respectable numbers when the team was anything but, and famously led the franchise to its first appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1982. It has been more than three decades since Brodeur retired, but late is better than never when it comes to his induction into the Ring of Honour.
Todd Bertuzzi (20 to 1 Odds)
Todd Bertuzzi is ninth in all-time team scoring despite playing just over 500 games with the organization, and during his peak years he—along with linemate/soulmate Markus Naslund—was arguably the most dominant player in the NHL. All that being said, Bertuzzi’s accomplishments with the Canucks will forever be tainted by his gruesome assault on Steve Moore of the Colorado Avalanche. Enough time has passed since the incident that Bertuzzi has carved out a niche for himself on Vancouver sports radio, and that’s a good indication that he will one day be welcomed into the Ring of Honour—a fitting tribute to the real power behind the West Coast Express.
Alain Vigneault (25 to 1 Odds)
Pat Quinn’s inclusion in the Ring of Honour lays down a solid precedent for Alain Vigneault joining him in the near future. Both are in the running—along with Roger Neilson—for the titles of best coach in team history along with the most likeable, and each took their team to within one win of the Stanley Cup, so it’s tough to make a clear distinction between them other than Quinn’s dual role as General Manager.
Vigneault has more wins than any other Canuck coach and presided over the franchise’s strongest period of contention ever, but Quinn and Neilson each have a superior winning percentage. Vigneault’s easy-going nature and amicability are probably the qualities that will push him over the top, so if he does end up making it into the Ring, we hope the image that accompanies him is of Vigneault busting a gut at Vern Fiddler’s impression of Kevin Bieksa.
Tony Tanti (30 to 1 Odds)
Tony Tanti had a consistently great—yet unspectacular—career with the Canucks during some particularly lean years. Tanti remains in the top-ten of all-time team scoring, and he’ll remain in that position for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, he comes from an era of Vancouver hockey that is firmly in the rear-view mirror and largely forgotten, and that greatly lessens his chances of inclusion in the Ring of Honour.
Sami Salo (45 to 1 Odds)
Between the torn tendons, ruptured testicles, and literal snakebites, it’s hard to argue that any player in Vancouver Canucks history absorbed more punishment throughout their tenure with the team than Sami Salo. Due in part to his litany of injuries, Salo’s statistical totals with the Canucks aren’t all that impressive, but he was one of the most popular members of the team post-West Coast Express and stuck around long enough to play a major role in the 2011 run to the Stanley Cup Finals. Salo also possesses the greatest shot in team history, and he used it to score some enormously important goals.
Brendan Morrison (50 to 1 Odds)
As the glue that held the West Coast Express together, Brendan Morrison was the Canucks’ top line center throughout one of the most exciting—albeit largely unsuccessful—teams in franchise history. Morrison is tied for 11th in all-time scoring with Ryan Kesler with more than a hundred fewer games played, but the WCE’s lack of playoff achievement is actively working against him when it comes to inclusion in the Ring of Honour. That being said, Morrison is a local boy from Pitt Meadows, and that could be what separates him from the crowd—though the same could be argued for Cliff Ronning, Geoff Courtnall, and Greg Adams.
Honourable Mentions (Or Should That Be “Ring-able?”): Cliff Ronning, Jyrki Lumme, Andre Boudrias, Don Lever, Geoff Courtnall, Alexander Mogilny, Gino Odjick, Doug Lidster, Greg Adams, Mike Gillis, Fin.