I know, we have talked this Naslund jersey retirement to death since the announcement was made by Mike Gillis at the Summer Summit. I, like several other Canucks fans expressed disdain for the choice to retire his #19. It wasn't a new development. This had been argued in the past, as we knew this day was coming.
Well, management has made their decision and I have to live with it. This may be one of the more controversial jersey retirements that I've seen in a long time. There is a majority vote for the honor to occur, but I think it is fair to say that the vote from the fan base is about 75% FOR. That is far from a lock in Canucks fans' opinion. In a humane sense it is unfortunate. That means that about 25% of the people in the stands on Naslund's celebratory night are going to get caught up in the moment but deep down will have some reservations about it. Hey, I have always wanted a Canucks captain to be a warrior. A guy that goes out onto the ice and runs guys into the boards or, drops the gloves to defend a teammate or changes the game with a big hit. Naslund was not that guy. A Jarome Iginla or Mike Richards he was not. That angered me. He didn't play with the tenacity of a Smyl or Linden. His passive nature was something I thought was not good enough for a Canucks captain. But browsing through YouTube videos and reading articles about him I realized something: Naslund was loved by his teammates. Trevor Linden said that Nazzy wore his heart on his sleeve and that basically there was no bullshitting with Naslund. He told it like it was. Other teammates said that Naslund was a guy that they could confide in. He was very approachable and willing to listen and to help.
Those are leadership qualities too. So, while from what I saw on the ice from Naslund annoyed me so many times, as he looked indifferent and stone-faced etc etc etc, especially towards the end of his tenure as a Canuck, there is something I must realize: Naslund's stone face was just the way he was. He took things in stride. He HAD to, playing in hockey-mad Vancouver, where every move is scrutinized to hell. It didn't mean that he didn't care, or didn't want to scream at his mates to get going and win. Apparently he challenged the boys a lot more than I thought. It's just that I never saw what happened behind the scenes. I don't know Markus Naslund. I'm a couch GM who can sit behind a computer and make my accusations and judgements. Many times I can be wrong. So, while I still have my reservations about his number being immortalized in Canuck lore, I am willing to be open-minded about the whole thing. I apologize for my harsh words about him earlier Thursday, mostly. While I still wish we had a more aggressive captain in those years, I cannot completely ignore Naslund's accomplishments. I cannot ignore the pure bliss of the good times we had with him as captain, even though we never got a round 3 of the playoffs with him, which, by the way, is a TEAM failure more than a Naslund failure.
Like Section312 mentioned today: if we retire Stan Smyl and Trevor Linden's numbers, how can we not retire Naslund's? I cannot argue that. Naslund, even though he was not the same type of player that Smyl and Linden were, still holds some serious Canucks records. And while these accomplishments would mean less on a Canadiens or Leafs team, given their rich histories, we are the Vancouver Canucks. Yes, I wish the team had a richer history but what in the hell is the point in dwelling on that? These are the cards we have been dealt since 1970. Yet we still watch these guys religiously and wish for a better fortune. The past cannot be changed. We love out team. So, even with the dismal years still fresh in our memories, we must carry on. In our case, for better or for worse, Markus Naslund is easily one of the best players to ever don a Canucks jersey and needs to be shown some respect for his long and mostly successful (from a personal standpoint) tenure as a Canuck. With that in mind, I present to you some YouTube clips of Naslund:
1. Naslund tribute for his 1000th game. Here you can hear what his mates say about him.
2. End to Ender. Gotta love this:
3. A back-breaking goal in Game 7 versus the Blues
4. Naslund 2005-06 highlights. Where did he score most of his goals from?
5. Naslund pissed after a loss
6. Sick hands vs Cujo
7. More Naslund tribute footage. Check out the goal at 1:43. My fave Naslund goal of all time.
8. Naslund Tribute Part 1
9. Naslund Tribute Part 2
That is all for now. Congrats Markus on this honor. See you in December.