And just like that, faster than an Elias Pettersson one-timer, five decades of Canucks hockey came to a close.
Or, for the pessimistic folks out there, five decades of Canucks hockey came to a slow, painful end after 50 years of this franchise finding new and creative ways to disappoint this fan base, but we digress.
Without a Stanley Cup win to their name, this argument for the best decade in team history becomes much more interesting. It would be a easy answer for first time champs such as the Washington Capitals or St. Louis Blues, but that’s not the case in Vancouver.
Since you could make an argument for each of the decades, that’s exactly what we’re doing here at Nucks Misconduct. Scroll below for five takes on which decade is the best in Canucks history. Then, tell us what you think.
The Case for the ‘70s: westy99
While it’s easy to say that other decades had competitive Canuck teams and therefore the best decade (maybe not the 00’s), the 70’s were the start of it all, the foundation and so logically, the best decade of the Canucks.
Let’s start with the logo. The classic stick in rink design will live on forever.
The Canucks got screwed in the first draft by the league, a tradition that has continued for 50 years.
The team itself was a mish-mash of throwaways and wannabes that played hard each night but never had success until 1974-75 when they made the playoffs and had to play the powerhouse Montreal Canadiens. Old time Canuck fans remember names like Kurtenbach, Kearns, Boudrias, Lever and Smith. Hockey players weren’t the pampered, chiseled monsters we see today, they were men...men who liked beer and a smoke.
The ‘70s were the best for the city itself just because of the newness of the team itself and the lack of expectation. The idea of going to an NHL game was enough for the people of the city and winning was secondary. Thank God there was no Twitter back then.
The Case for the ‘80s: Beggsy
“It has been a turbulent decade in Vancouver here to say the least.”
That’s how Steve Armitage described the 1980s for Vancouver. Don’t think that helps my argument, but hear me out.
As great as the Stick in Rink logo was, the Canucks franchise came and went through all of the 1970s without a single playoff victory. That changed in the spring of 1982, where the sad-sack Canucks went from no playoff series victories in 12 years, to three during one run.
That magical run captured the hearts of fans for the first time in team history. Arguably, that rag-tag group of players were the biggest, lovable group of underdogs in team history. Led up from by the diminutive Stan Smyl, along with the equally diminutive Richard Brodeur in net, the Canucks were anything but a pushover.
Many fan favourites were born during this era including Thomas Gradin, Tiger Williams, Darcy Rota, and Haaaaaarrrroooooooold Snepsts.
Although they didn’t pull off the upset over the Islanders, that group finally gave fans a taste of success. They showed the fans, for the first time, just how thrilling playoff hockey could be.
The rest of the decade was certainly a flop, but the building blocks for success in the 90s were set up in the late 80s. Pat Quinn joined as President and General Manager in 1987. He traded for Kirk McLean in 1987 and drafted Trevor Linden in 1988. Then, unlike most teams, he did his homework, which led him to drafting the most talented player in franchise history, Pavel Bure, in 1989.
The Case for the ‘90s: Trevor Beggs
You didn’t really think that I would pick the ‘80s as the best decade in Canucks history, did you?
Two things were fairly consistent for the Canucks throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s: losing. They lost a ton of games and entered the ‘90s doing the same.
One thing was different about the ‘90s however. For the first time in team history, the Canucks had actually assembled a squad that was capable of winning the Stanley Cup.
With all due respect to the Canucks of the ‘80s, they never had a team that won more than 33 of 80 games in a season. The V’s that surprisingly flew all the way to the Stanley Cup Final had 30 wins during the regular season.
The Canucks of the early 90’s were different. Their late ‘80s draft picks in Linden and Bure had turned into stars. Under Pat Quinn, they made good trades (for what felt like the first time in franchise history) for Kirk McLean Greg Adams, Geoff Courtnall, Cliff Ronning, Sergio Momesso, Jyrki Lumme, and Murray Craven. Even though some of those deals happened in the 80’s, it all started to pay off for the Canucks in the ‘90s.
The 90’s marked the first time the Canucks had built a contender. Pat Quinn won a Jack Adams, Pavel Bure won the Calder, and the Canucks made it past the first round in four straight seasons. That mark has yet to be bested in franchise history, along with the fact that they made the playoffs for six straight seasons in the 1990s.
But the reason why the ‘90s remains the best decade for the Canucks (and sorry, it’s not because of The Skate...) is because they gave this city some of the best entertainment during a two-month span in the history of the franchise.
A magical run ended in heartbreak, but it remains the closest this team has ever come to winning the Stanley Cup. For that reason, along with the fact that this was the best playoff stretch in team history, makes this the best decade in franchise history.
As for the Keenan/Messier era...I don’t know what you’re talking about. It didn’t happen as far as I’m concerned...
The Case for the ‘00s: Noah Strang
While the Canucks of the ‘00s may be the only decade alongside the ‘70s that never reached a Cup final, they did have a number of other things going for them that makes their case as the strongest decade.
The decade began with Markus Naslund being named captain on September 15th, 2000, and Canucks fans were treated to one of the best lines the Canucks have ever had in the West Coast Express.
Naslund played on the left wing and was a dynamic goal scorer that scored over 40 goals three times and won what is now known as the Lester B. Pearson award in 2003. Opposite him on the right wing was bruiser Todd Bertuzzi, a big power forward who had a goal scoring touch.
Bertuzzi would also break the 40 goal mark and provided the physicality that the team needed. Centering these two goal scorers was Brendan Morrison, a crafty playmaker that knew how to set up his teammates. These three would create the most exciting line in the NHL and provided plenty of highlights.
Of course, the 2000s were also the decade where the Sedins slowly blossomed into NHL superstars. Although their best 10-year stretch of hockey came over the latter 2000s and early 2010s, they began to capture the hearts of Canucks fans late in this decade.
While they never had a had a huge amount of playoff success, they were always exciting to watch and actually made the playoffs with more regularity compared to any other decade. The Canucks made the playoffs in six out of nine seasons in the 2000s and were never out of the dance for more than a season.
The Case for the ‘10s: jimmi cynic
The long storied decades as described above are something to look back on fondly. And sigh. Thanks to Westy, for taking on the 70s. If you go dumpster-diving, Westy is the one who can find half an ounce of rum in a pile of trash.
In hindsight, it might have been better to wait 48 years before entering the league, but here we are in the 2nd best Canucks decade in history. The 1st, the best decade in Nuckle time is the 20s. But Beggsy, being an old tradition guy doesn’t want me blabbing about the amazing seasons to come. Probably hit me with his cane, just for mentioning it.
Anyways, I’m here to highlight the
2nd Best Decade in Canucks History. There’s so many highlights that the previous decades look like a dress rehearsal. And in some of those decades the dress code was pretty sketchy.
In this decade we saw the Twins climb to the peak of Mount NHL and gaze down upon the 600.
We could devote the entire post to the highest scoring Twins in Nucks history at the peak of their game, but there’s more. So much more.
In the 80s and 90s we did witness a couple remarkable Cup runs. The improbable ‘82 series. The pre-salary-cap ‘94 MSG heart-breaker. However amazing and well-cherished those playoff runs were, there’s still the question of what they were playing for.
So much hype about winning the Cup. But the devious NHL arranged it so the late arrival teams could never win THE Cup. Only a cheap Repli-Cup. A fake, a fraud.
Post 1964, even the Original Six were playing for faux glory. THE REAL Cup sits in a museum - in an airless glass case. That cliche about “being the hardest trophy in pro sports to win” starts to make sense when the outcome is already rigged.
For 50 years, the NHL have arranged it so we could never win THE Cup. The league despised the Canucks and their fans before the team and
some most of their fans were conceived.
Now that we’ve established that the Stanley Cup is a marketing fraud, what is there to play for? Sure the playoffs can be fun on a run - but its primary purpose is fill the coffers of the billionaire owners, while not paying the players, yet satisfying the fan’s need for vicarious glory. Doesn’t matter.
What matters, is the real championship award of NHL hockey. The Presidents’ Trophy. Some say it’s another fake marketing ploy from the head NHL weasel. And it is. But it’s a better fake.
It’s a better fake Cup won under tougher circumstances. Won over a grueling 82 game series - against all the other teams in the NHL. Played under a clearly-defined (and often ignored) NHL Rule Book.
The Stanley Repli-Cup series is a mere 16 (we wish) to 28 games played against, at best, 4 other teams. That’s a pathetically short series. But garners all the hockey fan reverence and lore. And worse, the SCP series doesn’t even use the NHL rule book, but possibly the WWE rule book, if there is one.
The point is, the Canucks team of the ‘10s is the only team in Nucks history (so far) to win the Presidents’ Trophy. Not once, but twice! That record is... amazing and under-celebrated. It is the greatest honour ever bestowed on this 50 year old franchise. Which is why the 10s is the greatest, bestest decade in Nucks history. So far.
It’s also why the unselfish Canucks of that era permitted the Boo-urns and Ka-Ka-Kings to have the fake Cup. The real honours had already been won.
Sure, there was a little dip in the Nucks teams of ‘13 through ’18, but what Nucks decade would be complete without a multi-year slump? The 20s, of course, but I can’t talk about it.
What was the best decade in Vancouver Canucks history?
This poll is closed