WWYDW Summer Debates: Who is the toughest Canuck to ever lace ‘em up?

Photo credit:© Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
10 months ago
Welcome back to WWYDW, the only hockey column on the internet that may drop the gloves, but will never dangle a participle.
Speaking of dishing the mitts, that’s just one way in which toughness can be accounted for in the sport of hockey, but it’s the primary method through which one becomes a “tough guy.” And the Vancouver Canucks have had more than their fair share of tough guys throughout franchise history.
But these are the Summer Debates, and we can’t help but bring up the fact that toughness is difficult to define, and that determining the “toughest” Canuck of all-time is virtually impossible to do objectively.
What does being the toughest mean?
Is it being the strongest? (Donald Brashear)
Or having the hardest punch? (Gino Odjick)
Or being the best pound-for-pound fighter? (Rick Rypien)
Or being the one that would win out if you dropped them all in a pit and forced them to commence in an all-out battle? (Probably Rick Rypien again)
Really, toughness, like beauty, is in the black eye of the beholder. Which makes it perfect fodder for the Summer Debates.
So, throw off those gloves, pick up those keyboards, and debate, this week:

Who is the toughest Canuck to ever lace ‘em up?

Make your case in the comment section.
Last week, we debated:

Who is the best (non-ELC) UFA signing in Vancouver Canucks history?

Your responses are listed below!
(And not clarifying the Alex Burrows issue is on us!)
I don’t believe Alex Burrows signed an ELC contract, so I’m going with him as the best free agent signing. His impact on the team is obvious. The cost was negligible, even if you include his AHL contract.
Chris the Curmudgeon:
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
You’ve basically already answered your own question in the introduction. Dan Hamhuis played six fine seasons with the Canucks after being signed as a UFA, a time during which he was consistently our best blueliner. If not for an injury early in the Finals that kept him out for the series, we might all have very different memories of 2011. There really is no other UFA in Canucks history on that level. Moreover, while the cap was certainly lower then, to get a player of his calibre for $4.5M/season on the open market was quite a coup for Gillis at the time.
Also, there is only one correct answer to the poll of “who was the worst UFA signing in Canucks history?”, so maybe we can skip over that one next week, hmm?
bruce donice:
Malhotra in my mind was the best.
Mikael Samuelsson.
Gotta be legendary leader and erstwhile fan punching bag… #11 in your programme… ladies and gentleman… your Captain… Mark Messier!!!
The best unrestricted free agent signing is Alex Burrows. Burrows was not the conventional offseason free agent signing. Burrows started the 2005 season on an AHL contract with the Manitoba Moose and could have been signed by any NHL team. In November of 2005, the Canucks signed Burrows to an NHL contract after three seasons of minor professional hockey split between the ECHL and AHL. Burrows went on to play over 800 NHL games for the Canucks with a combination of grit, skill, and determination. A Canucks Ring of Honour inductee, Burrows is amongst the franchise leaders for games played, goals, and penalty minutes, but he is most remembered for “slaying the dragon” in the 2011 playoffs.
As stated, Burrows is by far the top UFA signing by strict definition of the term, but if we narrow the list to more conventional off season, July 1st-type free agents signings, then the debate becomes more interesting. Overall, there are more free agent signings that didn’t work out than ones that did.
Dan Hamhuis is the top offseason free agent signing. Hamhuis is the rare high-profile UFA signing that played up to the level of his contract. Prior to the 2010 season, several teams traded for Hamhuis’ negotiating rights from Nashville to convince him to sign. But Hamhuis had a desire to play for his home province team, which was poised to be a Cup contender, and signed with the Canucks as a UFA on July 1st, 2010. Hamhuis was a key member of the most successful era of the Vancouver Canucks, playing as an all-situation defenseman for a team that won back to back Presidents’ Trophies, went to the Cup Finals, and was near the top of the league in almost every statistical category.
Probably don’t need to overthink this one too much. Dan Hamhuis was the best UFA signing. He played at a high level as one of the better RHDs in the league for the entire term of his contract. Really couldn’t ask for much more.
This was a perfect example of spending the money to get the right player at the right time. Much unlike other times in Canuck history, when the team spends big to get a player that they are not ready for or don’t really need.
Honorable mention to Ryan Miller, who was a very good goalie during a period that the team was not very good.
Killer Marmot:
Hamhuis may have been the best (although his stay was injury riddled).
But Ryan Miller in 2014 is a strong contender. Three years of solid goaltending, including a playoffs series.
Pity that the team in front of him was terrible in the last two years.
Hands down, it’s Alexander Burrows. He signed as a UFA with the Manitoba Moose on Oct 21, 2003. The Canucks then signed him to a two-way contract as a UFA on Nov 9, 2005. Undrafted and worked his way from ball hockey to the ECHL to a minor league contract to a two-way contract to the first line with the Sedins and the Ring of Honour. It’s not even close!! Dan Hamhuis would be second pick and Lars Molin third back in ‘81 or ‘82.
Quinns Quest:
Mats Sundin: best UFA signing ever, right?!? He said no to longer term and saved the Canucks extra cap! Okay, so maybe that’s not the criteria, and we are looking at you, Dan Hamhuis. Yes, our coveted RHD was sent offers on UFA status and chose the home town err province discount. Helped a contending team stay under the cap to capture Presidents’ Trophy and go to SCF.

Check out these posts...