The Canucks Ring of Honour kicked off on opening night this year with the induction of Orland Kurtenbach. Kirk Mclean will be the second inductee on November 24. The Ring, which was introduced to commemorate the team's 40th anniversary, honours great Canucks who are not quite great enough to have their numbers retired. So yes, it's kind of like a participation ribbon, but it's an exclusive one-I don't think we are in danger of seeing Zenith Komarniski, Robert Nordmark, or Corey Hirsch up there anytime soon.
Opinions may vary, but I personally think it is a cool way to honour key contributors to the team, to get younger fans in touch with the team's history, and to give
GM Place Hockey Canada Place Rogers Arena some character. On the first point, it is obviously not feasible to retire the jersey of every fan favourite or major contributor. Even retiring Markus Naslund's number caused considerable controversy. So the Ring is a nice way to pay homage to the Kurtenbachs and Mcleans of Canucks lore without dooming future draft picks to wearing numbers like 97.5 or 00. As for putting younger fans in touch with team history, I think this is a fantastic move. Many current Canucks fans are too young to remember the '94 run, let alone the teams of the 1970s and '80s. Honouring players from these eras encourages fans to read about, watch Youtube clips of, and otherwise celebrate the Canucks legends of the past. And finally, this gives Rogers Arena a bit of character that is sorely lacking in most modern arenas. The Canucks have been quite good on this front in the past number of years, from the Luc Bourdon tribute to the 30 Greatest Canucks display (from the 30th anniversary) to the 7th Man banner. The Ring of Honour adds another to these unique twists of the building, most of which have worked in the past, and I am excited to see the ring expand as the years go by.
So, with that preamble out of the way, I present after the jump my top candidates to be included in future Ring inductions. I am limiting this to players, thus excluding the likes of Jim Robson, Frank Griffiths, Tom Larscheid, and Larry Ashley. I am also excluding current players, who still have time to build or destroy their legend for this team. Please heckle, contradict, support, add to, or alter my picks in the comments section.
For a long time I harboured a major grudge toward Bure. The man did not leave town on good terms, and like a lot of Canucks fans I took it personally. But time, and Youtube, heals all wounds. As time goes by I grow increasingly sentimental about Pavel, which is aided by the ability to refresh my memory of his jaw-dropping talents by watching video clips online. I am ready to forgive and reembrace, and what better way to do that than a fancy ceremony, a slick highlight package, and the opportunity to cheer one more time for the most talented player, and first superstar, to play for the Canucks? I consider myself privileged to have seen one of the greatest pure goal-scorers of all-time in his prime, before injuries and ego derailed his career. Watch in awe:
King Richard was the Canucks goalie from 1980-87, and led the team on its Cinderella run to the 1982 Stanley Cup Final. His numbers were never that great, but this for good reason: a) he played for a not very good Canucks team in the same division as the two Albertan powerhouse teams; and b) it was the '80s, and no one's number were very good in goal. I never saw Brodeur play, but I know his name from stories about the 1982 team and by all accounts he was legendary. He gets in for his part in our first Stanley Cup Final trip and his status as our first great goaltender:
Okay, so we'll have to wait until he retires from the Lightning before inducting him, so it could be a while. Ohlund was never a flashy player, but he played a remarkably solid and physical brand of hockey, and was capable of stepping up in the clutch with a key goal. Ohlund played 11 seasons in Vancouver between 1997-2009 and was one of my favourites during that time. While he put up decent numbers, including 339 points in 844 games, I remember him as the guy who went up against the other team's best players, shut them down, and never complained about doing his job. So he wasn't much of a fighter, but you can't fault his effort:
I'll admit that I know very little about Thomas Gradin. I know that he was a talented player on a lot of atrocious Canucks teams. I know he was part of the 1982 Cup Final run. And I can look at his stats and see that he played a fairly impressive 613 games and amassed a decent 550 points in that time. So in some ways this is a token pick to flesh out our 1980s representation in the Ring of Honour. However, Gradin's most notable contributions may have come off the rink, as a top scout for the Canucks: Gradin is the man who pushed Brian Burke to draft the Sedins and helped us steal Alex Edler in the third round of the 2004 draft.
Honourable Mentions: Greg Adams; Cliff Ronning; Toni Tanti; Ed Jovanovski; Patrick Sundstrom