Today, “The Hockey News” (“THN”) released their ranking of the all-time top 10 Canuck players (thanks to valued reader Steve M. for the heads-up). These listings are never without controversy and while it’s easy to quibble about placing, what’s most important is did they get the right 10? Of course, “The Hockey News” are hockey experts, but they’re not really Vancouver Canuck experts. Thankfully, we are. Below we’ve listed their rankings with our predictably candid commentary.
10. Harold Snepsts- If you’ve been around here any length of time, you’ll know of our undying man crush love for Harold. As such, you’ll get no arguments here. For all you youngsters out there, Snepsts logged more games on defense than any other Canuck defender and was legendarily tough. If he had played this past season, there would have been no pissing and moaning about what Dustin Byfuglien was up to. And remarkably (though a truer measure of the Canucks’ ineptitude than anything else), he played in two NHL All-Star games.
9. Tony Tanti- We got to see this guy play every home game as an impressionable youth back in the day and while he was durable and a most dependable scorer, he played in the highest scoring era ever and got to play along side silky smooth Patrik Sundstrom. On that basis, he wouldn’t make our top 10. His ‘82 Camaro does though.
8. Kirk McLean- At this point, he’s the all-time franchise leader for many goaltending categories and until Roberto Luongo can come up with a lengthy (Stanley Cup Final) run of his own has every reason to be on this list. Poor Kirk was never the same after Jeff Brown slept with his wife. Or was it after McLean stole Bruce Allen’s wife? Yes, before Tiger Woods, there was Kirk McLean. And Jeff Brown.
7. Mattias Ohlund- As the all-time highest scoring defender, it’s hard to argue against his inclusion on this list. Even more so when you combine that with his feared hitting ability. We will quibble about him being more highly ranked than Snepsts though.
6. Stan Smyl- It’s no surprise that “Steamer” is on this list as the first Canuck to have his jersey hung from the rafters. Some would argue that he should be ranked higher based on his heart and soul contributions, but his offensive numbers are likely inflated due to the high scoring era in which he played.
5. Markus Naslund- As the third nominee for roster retirement and all-time leading scorer, this one is a no-brainer. Given his lack of playoff success, we are okay with him being ranked in the middle of the top 10.
4. Daniel Sedin - It’s hard to believe that Henrik and Daniel now rank 6th and 7th respectively in all-time games played and 4th and 6th respectively in points. On this basis, it’s hard to argue their inclusion in the top 10, but without any significant playoff success, this ranking seems a little high.
3. Trevor Linden - Johnny Canuck. A class act. And often overlooked as one of the best clutch players of his generation.
2. Henrik Sedin - See Daniel.
1. Pavel Bure- Duh. You know our thoughts on the Rocket, probably ad nauseam. This selection again reinforces the idiocy of his exclusion from the retired jersey club. Seriously, if an objective hockey expert from “The Hockey News” sees fit to name him as the greatest Canuck ever, why can’t the damn franchise do the same?
So it seems we are generally happy with THN’s top 10 (seeding aside) save the Tony Tanti selection. It’s hard to imagine a top 10 list that doesn’t include Thomas Gradin, who after Pavel Bure and perhaps the Sedins was the most skilled player ever to play for this sorry squad. If not Gradin, then original Canuck Andre Boudrias deserves more consideration than Tanti. During the Canucks’ first run at respectability in the mid 70’s he was their leading scorer. Another possible replacement for Tanti could be defensemen Doug Lidster, who was shipped out of town just before the ‘94 Cup run (luckily for him to the Cup winning Rangers), but was the best defensemen on the team for the decade leading up to that point.
Some are whining about no Todd Bertuzzi. Really? This is top 10 Canucks, not top 10 Malcontents. Bertuzzi could have been top of this list if he’d embraced the opportunity to be the best power forward of his generation instead of sulking and complaining all the while getting paid a kings’ ransom to play a kids’ game. And some old schoolers will complain that the exclusion of Richard Brodeur is unforgivable. But objectively speaking, aside from the famed ‘82 Cup run and his lovable persona, his numbers weren’t that good. He does host a fine golf tournament though.
We look forward to your takes on this. Who do you think should be in and out?