Welcome back to another edition of Throwback Thursday!
This week in 1997 (July 28), the Vancouver Canucks signed Mark Messier to a three-year contract worth $18-million.
Messier came to Vancovuer at 37 years old with the expectation to take the Canucks to new heights — but that never happened. The Canucks failed to make the playoffs in each of those years and Messier, who lived in Point Roberts, Washington during his Canucks tenure, had some of the worst years of his career.
Trevor Linden had given up his captaincy upon Messier’s arrival to town as the club let him wear Wayne Maki’s unofficially-retired #11. Both moves were highly controversial within the fan base and made things get off on the wrong foot.
Amid a tough first year, president and GM Pat Quinn and head coach Tom Renney were both fired. Linden was later traded to the New York Islanders by Quinn and Renney’s predecessor, Mike Keenan, for Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan McCabe and a 1998 3rd round pick.
In his first year in Vancouver, he scored only 60 points in 82 games. It marked Messier’s worst full, or near full, season since his rookie year in 1979-80. Struggling with injuries in his second and third year, Messier’s contract was up in his third year and while it featured two years of options, Vancouver never attempted to re-sign him.
Questions arose throughout his time about his ability as not only a player, but a leader, and while he did help to rally the Canucks to nearly make the playoffs in a late 1999-2000 season push, it wasn’t enough.
Messier left town heading back to New York, and fans have forever loathed the NHL Hall of Famer.
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