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Photo Credit: Jeff Vinnick

Top five captains in Vancouver Canucks history

The leadership that Bo Horvat has brought in his first year as team captain has showcased why he was a no-brainer to be named the 14th captain in Vancouver Canucks history.

The Canucks have had great captains over their 50-year history, and although a few may be somewhat questionable, the majority of these players were pillars in both the city and the community.

5. Orland Kurtenbach

The second selection for the Canucks in the 1970 expansion draft, Orland Kurtenbach served as the club’s first team captain when they broke into the NHL. Playing centre, the big and hulking Kurtenbach had the honour of wearing the “C” for four seasons.

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While donning the captaincy, Kurtenbach provided strong leadership for the new franchise and took home the Cyclone Taylor Trophy as the team’s MVP in three of his four seasons.

However, a knee injury forced Kurtenbach into retirement in 1974. With four seasons under his belt, Kurtenbach is the shortest tenured captain on this list, with 229 games at the helm.

Later in 2011, the Canucks introduced the Ring of Honour, and Kurtenbach became the team’s first inductee.

4. Markus Naslund

One-third of the West Coast Express, Markus Naslund led by example, bringing people off their feet with electrifying end to end rushes (when he was younger) and a deadly accurate shot.

Naslund was often seen at Canuck Place during his time in Vancouver and especially when he was named captain of the franchise. Naslund became the first European-born player to wear the “C” for the Canucks.

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During his time as the team captain, he made four all-star appearances and won the Ted Lindsay award, formally known as the Lester B. Pearson award in 2003, while also finishing second in voting for the Hart Memorial Trophy.

Naslund made fans excited about the team again after a dark period in the team’s history.

Naslund holds the record for most points scored by a captain for the team with 104, which came in the 2002-2003 season, During his reign, the team lacked playoff pedigree and only made it to the second round twice. In total, Naslund wore the “C” in 558 games before leaving for the big apple.

3. Stan Smyl

A Canuck through and through, at age 25, Stan Smyl received the captaincy and held on to it for a record eight seasons, which later would be tied by Henrik Sedin.

Smyl brought it every night despite being smaller in stature. Smyl set the standard for what it means to be a Canuck, and with that effort and never give up attitude, he led the organization to its first Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 1982.

His work ethic was top-notch, and when he decided to call it a career, his number became the first to be retired by the Canucks and hang above the rafters.

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Smyl would lead the Canucks in 552 games from 1982 until 1990, where we would resign as the team captain and pass the reins to the next core, which included Trevor Linden.

2. Trevor Linden

Trevor Linden, aka “Captain Canuck”, had a terrific tenure in Vancouver, especially early on.

Linden remains the youngest captain the team has ever had. Getting the honours at the age of 20 while sharing with Doug Lidster and Dan Quinn, Linden would become the lone captain the following season (1991-1992).

The Canucks missed the playoffs just once under his leadership, and Linden captained the magical and surprising run in 1994. Linden tallied 25 points in 24 games during that run, however, it was game 6 in the finals where arguably one of the most significant calls in Canucks history took play by the great Jim Robson.

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Linden meant everything to this city and community, with countless trips to children’s hospitals and Canuck Place, Linden was the adopted son of Vancouver.

Linden’s accomplishments on and off the ice led him to become the second Canuck to have their number retired.

1. Henrik Sedin

Henrik Sedin — along with brother Daniel — are the best players and people to put on a Canucks sweater.

In the 40th season home opener, the Canucks announced that Henrik would become the team’s new captain after a two-year spill from Roberto Luongo.

Tying the record as the longest-serving captain with eight years under his belt, Henrik managed to accomplish a lot in those years, which will surely help him secure a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame in the near future.

Donating to BC Children’s Hospital with his brother without wanting any credit is what Henrik was about, always giving credit to others without taking much for himself. Still, when the team would lose, he would stand in front of the cameras and answer all the questions. He led by example on and off the ice, which led to him winning two King Clancy Trophies.

As for his on-ice accomplishments as captain, Henrik ranks first among captains in games wearing the “C” with 602. He dominated the NHL for a stretch run, including a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011.

Along with his brother, the twins saw their jerseys raised to the rafters this past season in a three-game celebration of their careers, which touched everyone in the province.

All five players played an essential part in shaping what it means to be a Canuck, and it looks like Horvat is well on his way in carrying the torch.