International Canucks (Surprise!)

There is only one true answer. Ivan The Terrible.

We're running out of nations to cover, but not from lack of trying!

There are seven more countries represented in team history, which made it really difficult to get it down to three choices. Yeah, the first two are solid - it helps that they played here in recent memory - but after that? Does a player's time outside the league make that much of a difference to his time spent in Vancouver? How about elsewhere in the NHL? Where do you balance longevity with the Canucks compared against impact while here.

End result: several of the Honourable Mentions could have been on the list. Or I could have made it six or seven names long...

These are the folks from the "other" countries, the ones that raise an eyebrow when you hear them - both brows, in a couple cases. Yes, there are a couple "cheats" on the list, but even if they spent their youth in Canada, their citizenship has another opinion.

Your choices are:

Jannik Hansen

Moving steadily up the ranks since being drafted 287th(!) in 2004, the Dane started his NHL career with 10 playoff games in 2007. He's gone from an occasional player to 4th liner to getting almost 19 minutes a game in last year's playoffs, and his numbers show it: he's scored 131 points in 318 games playing on every line at one time or another, and 9 of his 50 goals are game winners. Got to like a guy whose ice time goes up every time the playoffs come around...

Ivan Boldirev

Sure, he actually grew up in Canada; but he was born in the former Yugoslavia, and he was a darned good player in the NHL (over 1,000 games doesn't happen by accident) so he gets his props here. In his tenure with Vancouver, the skilled centre managed 184 points in 216 games. In his best year with the Canucks he got 73 points in 78 games and was a big part of the (almost) miracle run of 1982, netting 8 goals in 17 games. As an added bonus, when he was traded away to Atlanta, he brought back local boy Darcy Rota!

Christian Ehrhoff

He was only here for two seasons, but they were the best of his career, netting 14 goals in each of them to go with 94 total points - good for 24th all time. He also picked up 19 points in the playoffs in those two years, giving Vancouver a legitimate scoring threat in every pairing and making opposing forwards think twice about a hard pursuit game against someone who could slip the puck right past them. And everyone, no matter how comically limited, could come up with a "Hoff" joke. There were a half-dozen Germans to play for the Canucks, but only Ehrhoff managed more than 16 games.

Not a bad list at all! A crash-and-bang winger, a skilled centre, and a sharpshooting defenceman to choose from. So who was left off? Not just one, but two Latvian goalies (Arturs Irbe has better save percentage, but Peter Skudra was here for two years and got more wins), and defenceman Poul Popeil, who played right from the beginning, making Hansen the second Dane to play for the Canucks by more than 35 years!

There are a couple "semi-cheats" in there with winger Paulin Bordeleau (89 points in 183 games) and defenceman Robert Manno (68 points in 163 games) who went to France and Italy respectively after their NHL careers, playing for those national teams. Good for them, but it's just not the same. And as much as Michael Grabner's name comes up now with Mason Raymond unsigned, he played all of 20 games here, so no.

And there you have it! Vote early, vote often!

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