• SETH ON SPORTS 15.06.2011

    As my Vancouver Canucks plot to win their first Stanley Cup tonight (or break our hearts trying), I am reminded of the Canucks who have reached for the Cup before them. Dave Babych, who monitored the Canucks’ defensive zone from 1991-1998, recently said that, although he has never seen fit to touch the Cup in the past (since he never won it), if this year’s Canucks acquire the prize, he will likely ask to get his picture with Stanley, because, after all, he is a Canuck.

    I find this to be Canuck-soul-warming. In 1994, I watched my childhood heroes come within a goal of tying for the Stanley Cup as they instead lost to the New York Messiers’ three to two goals by Trevor Linden (1998-1998, 2001-2008). Since then, songs of “What might have been?” have played in my hockey psyche, as I’m sure they did for the 1982 Canuck fans who watched our team, led by Stan Smyl (1978-1991) and King Richard Brodeur (1980-1988), get trounced in the Finals by the New York Islanders.

    So, if 2011’s edition wins our first ever championship, does that vindicate those teams that came close before?

    Simplistically speaking, a hockey team evolves like a person. Even though every year, the cells that comprise us change, there seems to be a consistent consciousness that flows through the beast. Many of the current Canucks, for instance, played with Trevor Linden, who battled along side Stan Smyl, who played with star defenceman Dennis Kearns (1971-1981), who, like Smyl, spent his entire NHL career with the team, including two with the Canucks’ first ever draft pick, Dale Tallon (1970-1973). And that’s once direct line. Any player you can think of (I like to recall my first favourite, Tony Tanti (1982-1990)) fits within this great series of overlaps.

    The six degrees of separation between every Canuck player does my Canuck heart good as I imagine that retiring leaders from teams gone by probably passed along wisdom to the new stars. Indeed, if the Sedins are able to share a Cup of Stanley tonight, I suspect they will recall Markus Naslund’s (1996-2008) tutelage, who will surely remember something Cliff Ronning (1990-1996) said to him the season that they overlapped for 8 games, and so on.

    This is all nice and Canuck-warming, but I want something more: I’m looking for proof that the heroes of the past have contributed to the DNA of today’s edition. After much internet-searching, I believe I have found the master gene that runs through Canucks.

    His name is Pat Quinn.

    In 1970, Pat Quinn was an original Canuck player – he and his famous elbows participated in 133 games before moving to Atlanta to work on his plan for Vancouver. In 1987, Quinn emerged from his Pat-cave to become the Canucks’ President and General Manager (bringing along his sidekick, Brian Burke, to be the Director of Hockey Operations). In 1998, Quinn drafted our hero Trevor Linden, who, along with a magnificent career with the team, would later beget Todd Bertuzzi and Bryan McCabe in a 1998 trade with the New York Islanders. McCabe (along with a draft pick) would then beget a Sedin, as 1999, GM Brian Burke, who had 2nd overall pick in the draft, traded for the 3rd overall pick, so that he could select both Daniel and Henrik at the same time. Meanwhile, the other half of the Linden deal, Bertuzzi (after some excellent work and occasional brutality with the club) eventually begat Roberto Luongo in a 2006 trade by Burke’s best friend and replacement, Dave Noonis.

    In short, without Canuck original Pat Quinn’s master planning, the team would have only 50% of a Sedin pair and 0% of a Luongo (and we’ve all seen what happens when Luongo doesn’t show up for a game). So, yes! If the Canucks win tonight, fans of the team from 1970-2011 will be vindicated. It may have taken some genetic counseling to get the combination, but this group would not exist without those who played before them. Go all Canucks, go!

    Posted by SethBlog @ 4:55 PM

  • 2 Responses

    • Natalie Says:

      Dear Sethblogs,
      Since, as you say, we could have vindicated all hockey players of Canucks past for a 2011 victory, should we then be vindictive towards them as antecedents, and perhaps even perpetrators, of the 2011 loss?

    • SethBlog Says:

      Thank you, Natalie. Your attempt to discredit the former Canucks that begat near champions in 2011 by pointing out that the latter lost (and so perhaps weren’t provided with such great DNA, after all) is cruelly poignant. At the time of that entry, I was not planning for the team to lose. However, now that you’ve made me think about it, I would say that, whereas former heroes such as Trevor Linden provided pristine DNA to the current team, there is no accounting for Nurture. Coach Vigneault, along with bad seed, Alex Burrows-his-teeth-into-you, have clearly undermined Linden and friends’ perfect Nature with their bad Nurture.

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