Jan 052011

The Canucks announced this morning that Thomas Gradin will be the 3rd inductee into their Ring of Honour.

One of Vancouver’s first European-born players, Gradin played eight of his nine NHL seasons in a Vancouver Canucks uniform from 1978.79 to 1985.86. He finished second in scoring in his rookie season, recording 51 points (20-31-51) in 76 regular season games played. During his rookie postseason, he led all Canucks skaters in scoring with five points (4-1-5) in three playoff games played. He left Vancouver as the highest scoring centreman in franchise history with 550 points (197-353-550) in 613 regular season games and 38 points (17-21-38) in 38 playoff games played for the Canucks.

Gradin led the Canucks in scoring twice, from 1980-1982 and was named an NHL All-Star in 1985. He helped Vancouver to its first ever Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1982 when he registered a team-high 19 points (9-10-19) in 17 playoff games played. In Vancouver’s first Stanley Cup Final game versus the New York Islanders, Gradin tied a franchise record for most points in a playoff game when he registered three points (2-1-3) in a 6-5 loss.

During his time as a member of the Canucks, the Solleftea, Sweden, native set a number of franchise records. In 1981.82 he became the first Canucks player to register 80 points in a single season, finishing the year with 86 points (37-49-86). He became the Canucks all-time leading scorer with his 408th point, Jan. 4/84, passing former leading scorer Don Lever, and on Mar. 8/85 became the first member of the Canucks to register 500 NHL points.

Nov 022010

The Vancouver Canucks announced today that Kirk McLean will be the second inductee to the team’s Ring of Honour.

McLean’s induction will take place on Wednesday, November 24th during a pre-game ceremony at Rogers Arena prior to Vancouver’s game versus Colorado. The former Canucks goaltender becomes the second Ring of Honour inductee after original franchise captain, Orland Kurtenbach was unveiled as the inaugural inductee.

Kirk McLean played over 10 seasons in a Vancouver Canucks uniform from 1987-88 to 1997-98 setting regular season and playoff franchise records for games played, wins and shutouts.

The Canucks career numbers speak for themselves.

Revered for his contributions in goal during the Canucks 1994 playoff run, McLean posted 15 wins and four shutouts through 24 games, helping lead Vancouver to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

McLean holds the all-time regular season franchise record for games played (516) and wins (211). His career postseason numbers rank first all-time in wins (34), games played (68) and shutouts (6).

McLean also holds franchise leading, single-season playoff records with 15 wins, four shutouts and 1,544 minutes played (1994 playoffs). McLean was twice nominated for the Vezina Trophy as a Vancouver Canuck and represented the club at the 1990 and 1992 NHL All-Star Games.

McLean was originally drafted in 1984 by last night’s opponent, the New Jersey Devils. With other goaltenders like Sean Burke and Chris Terreri in the Devils’ system at the time, McLean had only appeared in four NHL games before Pat Quinn (who, by the way, is one I personally think should be inducted into the Ring of Honour at some point) acquired him and Greg Adams for Patrik Sundstrom and a couple of draft picks in 1987.

It didn’t take him long to get his career going after that. In his first season with the Canucks, he split goaltending duties with King Richard Brodeur. In his second season with the team, he was nominated for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goaltender. In his third season, he led the league in games and minutes played, and appeared in the NHL All-Star Game.

During the 1994 playoff run, McLean was simply brilliant. He recorded 15 wins, which is obviously a franchise record. Twice, he won five games in a row. Twice, he shut out the Toronto Maple Leafs in the third round – in back-to-back games to boot. Altogether, he played 1,544 minutes, which was an NHL record until Mikka Kiprusoff played 1,595 minutes in 2004.

But without a doubt, Canucks fans think of “The Save” when they think of Captain Kirk. In Calgary, in overtime, in game 7 of the Canucks’ 1994 first round playoff series against the Flames, he robbed Robert Reichel on a 3-on-1 break and set the stage for Pavel Bure’s eventual game-winner in the second overtime period.

That save helped catapult the Canucks from being a .500 regular season team to Stanley Cup finalists. As noted hockey historian, Joe Pelletier, calls it, it was McLean’s signature moment. (More on Joe’s piece on Captain Kirk here.) For Canucks fans, it’s one moment among many, and on November 24th, we’ll all get a chance to remember them and celebrate Captain Kirk and his accomplishments.

Oct 072010

[As we approach the start of the NHL regular season, members of the Canucks blogosphere give their two cents about your Vancouver Canucks and address the issues, questions and expectations of the team in their 40th year anniversary.]

Orland Kurtenbach, Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: Vancouver Sun

At the Canucks Summer Summit – aka the State of the Franchise – the Canucks announced the start of a new tradition, the “Ring of Honour”.

The Ring of Honour initiative will launch this season and is intended to celebrate and salute Canuck heroes who have made a lasting impact on the franchise.

The plan is to honour 3 or 4 players every season, and give fans a chance to acknowledge their contributions to the Canucks community without retiring their jerseys. While the first “Ring of Honour Night” isn’t until October 26 when the Canucks will honour Orland Kutenbach, I imagine the concept is similar to what the Toronto Maple Leafs do.

Besides Kurtenbach, the Canucks are planning on honour three other former Canuck heroes. The team hasn’t announced their names yet, but we give our two cents on who we think are most deserving of this honour.

Cam from Canucks Army: I like this tradition. Retiring jerseys should be reserved for an incredibly special, elite group of players. But the franchise should still honour players that have left a special mark on the team and its fans. Kurtenbach is a perfect choice to start this tradition. Bure is another great selection. I’d also add Snepsts, Odjick, and McLean.

Richard: I think it’s a neat tradition so long as they don’t do too many a season. You start to run out of players otherwise. I think this year they’ll honour Captain Kirk, Roger Nielson and Pavel Bure.

Chris: So long as the Ring of Honour is done the right way – essentially any way different than the “7th man” – I have no problem with it. I think it serves an excellent purpose to recognize Canuck players who have contributed to the success of the team on or off the ice, while preserving the sanctity of a retired number. As for who I think the other three names will be, I asked the Magic Eight ball for help and came up with the following: Thomas Gradin, Harold Snepsts, and Pavel Bure. Yep, I’m that darn good.

J.J.: I think this is a great way to honour players. I agree with Cam that retiring jerseys should be reserved for special players, and I think it’s certainly fitting for guys like Stan Smyl, Trevor Linden and Markus Naslund. However, there are many others who meant a lot to this franchise and have contributed greatly to the Canucks community, but because they don’t necessarily deserve to get their jerseys retired, we don’t get the opportunity to thank them and celebrate their contributions. After Kurtenbach, I’d like to see Jim Robson, Harold Snepsts and Richard Brodeur honoured as well.

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