Paterson’s Point: Hughes and Hronek giving Canucks a look they’ve never had before

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
6 months ago
You know the names: Paul Reinhart, Jyrki Lumme, Doug Lidster, Dennis Kearns, Ed Jovanovski, Mattias Ohlund and Alex Edler. Through the years, the Vancouver Canucks have had a number of gifted offensive defencemen. But it’s abundantly clear by now they’ve never had anyone play the position and produce points the way Quinn Hughes does. And it’s also becoming evident by the game that this organisation has never had two blueliners generate offence at the clip Hughes and Filip Hronek are.
When Hughes fired home his seventh goal of the season set up by Hronek in Saturday’s 4-3 home ice loss to Seattle, it boosted the captain’s early-season point total to 28 while Hronek is up 18 points through the Canucks first 18 games of the season.
If those two continue to score at the outrageous rates they have, the dynamic duo will finish the season with 128 and 82 points respectively. That would easily be the highest scoring pair of defencemen in franchise history because they’d both eclipse the single-season high established by Hughes last season with 76 points.
A quick check of the record book reveals  the Canucks have never had a pair of 50-point defenders in the same season. So it begs the question: who is the highest scoring tandem in a single season in the 53-year history of the hockey club? 
In 1982-83 – coming off the franchise’s first ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final – Doug Halward (52) and Rick Lanz (48) combined to generate 100 points. It’s the only time in Canucks history that two defenders have ever reached the century mark in a single season. It’s also worth noting that fellow blueliner Kevin McCarthy put up 40 points that season. 
In 1988-89, Paul Reinhart (57) and Robert Nordmark (41) combined for 98 points. That was the same total Hughes (76) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (22) totalled last season. Hughes (68) and OEL (29) teamed up for 97 points in the 2021-22 season. 
Hughes and Hronek are up to 46 points together through the team’s first 18 games and will quite likely reach the 50-point plateau by the 20 game mark on Wednesday in Colorado. So you can see where this is headed.
Even in the franchise’s best stretch of hockey just over a decade ago, the Canucks had depth on defence, but they didn’t have anyone with particularly gaudy point totals. In their run to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final season, Christian Erhoff had 50 points while Alex Edler was second among Canucks defenders with 33 that season. The following year, Edler posted a career-best 49 points while Kevin Bieksa added 44. 
Only four times in franchise history have a pair of defenders cracked the 40-point mark in the same season: Halward and Lanz in 1982-83, Reinhart and Nordmark in 1988-89, Jocelyn Guevermont and Dale Tallon in 1971-72 and Edler and Bieksa in 2011-12. Otherwise, it’s been a series of seasons with solid individual point production, but a reminder that almost all of the Canucks best defencemen through the years have been on their own without a running mate.
So this season really is unprecedented in Canucks history and it will be fascinating to see the heights Hughes and Hronek can reach. There has been one 200-point combo platter in NHL history when Bobby Orr racked up 135 points for the 1974-75 Boston Bruins and his teammate Carol Vadnais contributed 74 for a total of 209 points. Paul Coffey had 138 points and Charlie Huddy chipped in with 41 for a total of 179 points for the 1985-85 Edmonton Oilers. 
Times have changed and so has the game, and no one is expecting Quinn Hughes and Filip Hronek to re-write the National Hockey League record book. But it’s obvious now that if the two stay healthy they will absolutely obliterate the franchise mark and will raise the bar for what’s possible for a pair of Canucks defencemen. 

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