[Every Monday, Katie Maximick takes your questions and gives her take on the Canucks in her own cantankerous style. If you have any questions about the Canucks, send it to her via Twitter (@canucksgirl44)]
On Saturday night the crew from Canucks Hockey Blog was lucky enough to witness the retirement of Naslund’s number at Rogers Arena. I think it meant something different to each of us, so I can’t speak for any of the other writers, but I can say there was a general consensus that what we had the privilege to see Saturday was something none of us will forget.
For me it was closing the end of an era and saying thank you to the player who got me interested in hockey to begin with. Simply put, Markus Naslund is the reason I love the Canucks and the reason I’m involved in hockey writing at all. The least I could do was show up to see him off.
To celebrate Naslund’s number going to the rafters, I decided to base today’s “Ask Katie” on #19.
It’s well known that Naslund’s jersey retirement was a controversial one; a lot of people didn’t believe his number belonged up there next to Smyl’s and Linden’s, saying he didn’t take us to a Cup final. Frankly the argument is redundant at this point, not to mention dead in the water since the banner is in the rafters as we speak. But I honestly think that after last night’s ceremony at least a few of the fans changed their minds; that with the photo and video montages, the speeches, and the crowd’s incessant cheering, doubtful fans remembered why Markus Naslund is still the Canucks’ all-time points leader, goal scorer and an irreplaceable figure in the Vancouver community.
Mark (@marktgledhill) asks: Do you think the bad reputation that Naslund has with some fans is unfounded?
I don’t think Naslund necessarily has a bad reputation among those fans who didn’t want to see his jersey retired. I think the issue is that after the Bertuzzi/Moore incident, the West Coast Express era died. Both Morrison’s and Naslund’s stars faded in this city as their skills slipped away and the magic disappeared. To be blunt, neither of them fit with the new Canucks, as Naslund said himself before going to the Rangers and it was time for them to move on. I just wish Vancouver had sent Naslund off properly, which is why Saturday’s ceremony was so important. We needed to show Markus that we appreciate what he did for the Canucks after his 12 years on the team. I highly doubt any fan in this city can say they don’t like Naslund – who can’t like him? He’s the classiest guy to have graced this city since Trevor Linden.
However, if you’re talking about whether the argument to NOT retire Naslund’s jersey is unfounded, I say yes. Then again, I’m extremely bias about the issue and emotionally attached to Naslund in general.
Either way, the argument is now moot. The next argument will undoubtedly be whether or not Pavel Bure should be recognized now that Naslund has been.
Michael (@ArcticLeo) asks: Naslund and Forsberg killed it on the same Modo line and were #1 and #2 in NHL scoring one year. What if they had played together here?
I think my brain just exploded even thinking about that. Some background: Forsberg and Naslund played together for Modo for three seasons from 1990-1993 until Naslund went off to Pittsburgh, and then again in 2009/2010 after their departures from the NHL. It was in 1998/1999 when Naslund had 36 goals and Forsberg had 30, but that was the only season that they came close to each other in scoring. Naslund went on to play three consecutive seasons with 40+ goals and Forsberg hovered in the late twenties and then slowly declined.
But if we had them on the same team back in the day? The chemistry would be undeniable and I’d like to say we could have made it farther than the second round of the playoffs, but then again we still might have had Dan Cloutier in net. Could Vancouver win a Cup with Clouts? I’m not sure. And I guess we’ll never know.
But something we do know?
That no other Vancouver player will ever wear the number 19 again. And that’s just fine by me.
Thanks for everything, Markus. You left some big skates to fill.