Canucks fans have a type. Go back through the list of fan-favourites who have connected with the city and you’ll start to see a trend. Hard working, tough, selfless team players who fit the underdog role have always managed to grab fan’s hearts in this city.
Troy Stecher didn’t have an easy path to the NHL. The Richmond-native has had to battle questions about his height his entire life and never got to hear his name called at the NHL draft.
But Stecher did have one thing. He had that same hard-working, tough, gritty attitude that Trevor Linden, Stan Smyl, and Gino Odjick all possesed. And while Stecher’s Canucks career may have been relatively short, he embodied what it meant to be a Canuck.
Troy Stecher’s North Dakota Days
North Dakota State is one of the most prestigious, if not the most prestigious, programs in all of college hockey yet Troy Stecher couldn't catch the attention of NHL teams during his first few years with the program.
A common slight against Stecher during the draft process was his short height as NHL teams worried about how he would fare against the bigger, stronger men that play professionally compared to the boys Stecher faced at the college level.
But as North Dakota fans learned, and Canucks fans were about to learn, someone forgot to tell Stecher that he’s not as big as the rest of the players. He can often be found in net-front scrums or attempting to pin bigger forwards against the boards.
Eventually Stecher’s play at North Dakota was too strong to ignore and he went from a passed up asset to one that was sought after by many. Many reports have placed the amount of teams interested around twenty but the Canucks had the upper hand the entire time. It was time for Troy Stecher to return home.
While it would take some time in Utica, Stecher would eventually get the chance to live out his childhood dream and wear the Canucks jersey. His first NHL goal was an absolute gem as he sidestepped a Dallas Star before sending a rocket into the back of the net. The goal showed off Stecher’s knack for scoring at opportune times and coming through when the team needed him most.
It never felt like Stecher took representing the Canucks for granted and he always seemed ready to prove himself again and again every game. Fans knew that Stecher felt the same pride that they did and they cheered for him every time he went flying into a scrum.
Stecher’s Final Canucks Playoff Run
The most emotional moment of Stecher’s NHL career thus far came during this years series against the St. Louis Blues. Stecher’s father, Peter, unfortunately passed away just before the team went away to this summers playoff bubble.
When the Canucks needed it most, in game one against the defending Stanley Cup champions, Stecher was the one who came through with what would be the game-winning goal. After scoring, he raised his finger to the air to honour his late father, and then was embraced by his teammates.
Seeing the team rally around Stecher gave fans a glimpse as to why this group was so successful during these playoffs. The chemistry was obvious and it was clear that a real bond existed between the players.
Canucks fans will miss Stecher as he signed a two year deal with the Detroit Red Wings this offseason for a very reasonable $1.7 million dollars / year. He is sure to get a tribute upon his return to Rogers Arena and could possibly be a strong candidate to return to Vancouver in the future.
While never a star, Stecher held a special place in Canucks fans hearts as he constantly overachieved and proved the value of hard work. If later in his career Stecher wants to come back home, fans will surely welcome him with open arms.