International Canucks (An Introduction, A Blatant Theft, And Canada)

Right then.

Looks like someone over at Yahoo Sports had the bright idea to talk nationalities on teams, and I've decided to steal it. Because dang it, it's a good idea and there's no way I have the patience to wait to see what someone else chose for Vancouver. The alphabet is clearly prejudicial. Fight The Man!

Since the NHL opened up in a big way with expansion, teams had to cast their nets wider, scouting out Europe and Russia for players that might have been overlooked by their rivals. Players in those other nations know it, too: they play well enough in, say, Slovenia and there might be a two-way contract for ten times their possible earnings at home with a chance to enter the NHL. What had previously been a few thousand players with NHL dreams is now hundreds of thousands, all pushing for at best 800 jobs. Players in the the top two leagues in North America train year round to hold off challenges from newly drafted rookies, unsigned hopefuls, and wily veteran free agents (and all veterans are wily!) from around the world trying to take their place, even if it is just for a cup of coffee: nearly half the players who make it to the NHL play 10 or fewer games for their entire career.

Dilution of talent since the Original Six? Please.

So here's the gig: who in Vancouver Canuck team history is the best from each nation?

Obviously, some countries produce more players than others; and even among the more traditional nations there is a limited number that have been Canucks at some point. That being the case, a couple of times there may be more than one nation represented in the poll. If you find this confusing, remember to have your mom strap on your special helmet for you and try again.

First up, Canada.

This is the obvious place to start, though I think it's going to be a little one-sided by the end. The question was not just who to include, but why: I forced myself a three option limit, so obviously there are a slew of names missing that could be here. Let me hear about it in the comments!

Who's here:

Trevor Linden

Let's start at the top, shall we? Most games played by a comfortable margin (Hank's got 200 to go); second in goals; third in assists. In the playoffs he sweeps the board with a team leading 95 playoff points in a team leading 118 games, and he tops the team in short handed and power play goals. Captain for seven years. So yeah, he's on here.

Tony Tanti

There were other choices (see below), but one of the best snipers to play for the Canucks can argue for his rightful place here. Tanti played here for seven lean, lean years (1982-83 to 1989-90) with little team success and even less glory - five playoff wins (all against Calgary) and no series victories during his tenure. So why include him at all? Because of 250 goals in 531 games, a .471 average. His career with Vancouver ended with a total of 470 points in those games, and a lot of 3rd, 4th, and 5th place Smythe division finishes.

Roberto Luongo

Well, hey! Who's this? The winningest goalie in franchise history with more shutouts (35) than the next two combined; the best playoff save % of any goalie with more than ten games; second highest in playoff wins and shutouts (see below). Who knew he was Canadian?

Okay, then! There are your choices. Some of the other folks considered were Stan Smyl (because come on), Todd Bertuzzi (power forward with a scoring touch), Cliff Ronning (.896 points per game average over 366 games - seriously!), Geoff Courtnall (61 points in 65 playoff games), and Kirk McLean (those stats Luongo is second in? That's McLean).

Anyone who should be on here I missed? One of the old D-man workhorses like Doug Lidster or Dennis Kearns, perhaps? Heck, how about Harold Snepts for the Fu-Manchu moustache and the crowd chant? Sing out!

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