WDYTT Summer Debates: Who is the Canucks’ single-most valuable player of all-time?
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1 month ago
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Welcome back to WDYTT, the only hockey column on the internet that’s not ever going to keep you down.
Speaking of being the best around, we expect today’s edition of Summer Debates to be a passionate one.
If you missed our last episode, we kickstarted a run of all-time Canucks team awards; in short, taking the same awards that fans vote on every year and applying them to the entire history of the franchise.
You’ll hear more about who you thought was the greatest unsung hero of all-time in a moment, but first we’ve got to set up the next debate.
Picking an MVP on a year-by-year basis is often simple enough. It’s usually the team’s top scorer, or the goalie, and that’s generally just how it goes.
But picking out the single-most valuable player in franchise history?
That takes some deeper consideration.
Peak, prime, and longevity all factor in to any all-time determinations. So do both team and individual accomplishments.
Of all the great Canucks to ever grace Vancouver, who really brought the most value of anyone?
There’s a lot to parse through here, and a lot of potential answers, but there’s only one that really matters, and that’s yours.
This week, we’re debating:
Who is the single-most valuable Vancouver Canucks player of all-time?
Make your case in the comment section.
Who is the Canucks’ all-time unsung hero?
Your responses are listed below!
He was never the most talented player on the ice, but Murzyn worked his butt off to become one of the most solid defensive defensemen the team has ever had. He enabled Jyrki Lumme to shine as an offensive star. A real working-class hero.
Chris Tanev. Excellent defender and completely unappreciated when he was a Canuck. Losing Tanev is why the penalty kill became really bad and why they missed the playoffs, in my opinion.
Chris the Curmudgeon:
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
Thinking back to the Vigneault-era Canucks (clearly the strongest iteration of the franchise to date, with all due respect to the Linden/Bure years), there are a handful of players who always come to mind first. The Sedins, obviously, are Hall of Famers with individual accolades at the league level. Ryan Kesler also won a Selke Trophy and was one of the more visible stars of that era, and Alex Burrows was hardly unsung given his league-wide infamy and visibility as the “third Sedin.” Roberto Luongo was also a face of the franchise and future Hall of Famer. Left behind in all of that is my choice for all-time franchise unsung hero: Alex Edler.
Here’s a guy who played over 21,000 minutes for the team across 925 GP (4th in franchise history behind the Sedins and Linden), and in terms of ice-time/game, logged seven of the top-ten seasons among all Canucks combined over his tenure with Vancouver. In other words, he was our #1D for an entire decade, during which the team won two Presidents’ Trophies, made it to Game 7 of the Finals, and were generally more successful on the ice than any period in team history. He also played 82 career playoff games (most all time for a Canucks d-man). For all of that, he was never seriously considered for a major award, nor for the captaincy of the team, probably because he mostly just went about his business, game-in, game-out, and because his game was far more reliable than it was flashy. All of that sums up to “most unsung” in my books.
I’m sure others will come up with better, more deserving names, but one guy I thought was always underappreciated was Brendan Morrison. Completely overshadowed by better, higher profile wingers, Morrison was an important part of one of the best lines in hockey for several years. He wasn’t a great player, but wingers don’t do that well without a centre who shows up for work every night.
Going with a deep cut: Garth Butcher. Played during bad times for the team and amassed about 1700 PIMs in 600 games. Added a real backbone to the team. He was also part of one of the best trades in team history that helped launch the 1994 team where he, along with Dan Quinn, was traded for Ronning, Momesso, and Robert Dirk.
Unsung hero. Hmmmmmmm. Tough one. I think there have been so many over the years. Butcher was definitely one. Maybe even a Doug Lidster. Jannik Hansen or Manny Malhotra are also some good candidates. However, I think I may have to go with Lumme!
Unsung hero, an oxymoron of an award, but I am going to take a systematic approach.
If a player has won an award, they are no longer unsung.
Working down the list of all-time games played for the Canucks, the player with the most games played, who has never won an official team award is Sami Salo.
Salo, a Canuck folk hero for his testicular fortitude, was often injured, but sits ninth all-time in games played by a Canucks defenseman and was a key contributor for the West Coast Express and 2011 Cup run era teams.
Jack McIlhargey…hands down.
Joined a weak, soft Canucks team from the Flyers in the roughest toughest era of NHL hockey.
He dragged the Canucks into the fight every night.
Only part of four seasons (167 games)with Canucks as a player, but then spent an astonishing 20 years with the Canucks as an NHL assistant coach, head coach of Canucks’ minor league team, and then back as an NHL assistant.
And, of course, his long time working with the alumni.
He is the definition of unsung.
Mark Messier… No explanation needed.
I’m going to place a vote for Tony Tanti on the interpretation of “all-time unsung” as meaning unsung when we consider all-time Canucks greats, not unsung on the teams he played for. Because the teams he played for sucked and he was one of the few heroes worth singing about. But when people talk about who were all-time great Canucks, they tend to overlook a player who strung together five straight seasons in the mid-eighties in which he scored no fewer than 39 goals. He’s easily the most distinguished former Canuck not in the Ring of Honour.
Jim Has taken over:
To me it is Ohlund. Was a quiet leader. and a great defenseman. Just all-round solid.
Lots of candidates but nobody really stands out to me that’s above the rest. Schenn always came to everybody’s aid. Kesler put the team on his back numerous times. Salo, Ohlund, Edler were all good in their own way.
Kevin Bieksa is up there. He wasn’t very talented, but he always gave his best effort and fought hard for his teammates. He’s still a loyal Canuck and actually gave the team a motivational speech at one point this year.
What a tough question. There are candidates aplenty but I’m going to toss my support behind Jyrki Lumme. He had some odd skills like weaving past people offensively in the most upright stance I’ve ever seen. He also had a great calming effect by being able to consistently lob the puck out of the zone up in the air without icing it.
I’m definitely leaning to defensemen here, since Ohlund, Bieksa, and Salo also come to mind. I feel like Edler lost his way and doesn’t quite cut it. I also loved the Garth Butcher pick as a forward. It’s telling that nobody is suggesting a goalie. They’ve either been pretty great or all too forgettable, with my pick for that position probably being Arturs Irbe or Ryan Miller for short but great contributions to not-so-great teams.
Much as I would like to cast a ballot for Harold Snepsts, the obvious answer is Dennis Kearns.
I choose Chris Tanev. Signed as a free agent from RPI after one year in a lesser US college hockey programme, he stepped in as an NHLer in short order. He had ten years in Vancouver as a top-four (often top-two) defenceman. He is still playing steady hockey in Calgary. Very underappreciated in Vancouver. Great defensive defenseman.
Jim Robson. The best play-by-play man in the history of the game, and the one who kept all us old guys glued to our transistor radios before every game was being televised. We’ve been very lucky with play-by-play guys in Vancouver. Hughson wasn’t my favourite but he was still very good, and Shorty is superb.
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