Like all members of Canuck Nation, we here at Critically Canuck have suffered a long time. We will not die happily unless the Stanley Cup makes its way to Stanley Park.
Here you'll get the straight goods on our heroes. With both feet on the bandwagon, we will, however, pull no punches. As long time season ticket holders, that's our prerogative.
Expect analytical insight with a strong sense of history. We'll ask the tough questions. And answer them. Enjoy.
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As you would expect, things got a little heated in Round 2 of our little game determining the “toughest” Canuck ever. We will commence with Round 3 on Monday. And promise to pick-up the pace. This will end long before training camp.
Here’s a quick recap of Round 2 results:
1. In our most controversial match-up, Trevor Linden barely out pointed Ron Delorme. You, valued reader, turned out in droves to vote on this one, which featured many lead changes and was basically a split vote from start to finish, with Trevor edging out Chief by the narrowest of margins. So clearly the broad definition of toughness wins out. For now.
2. In another ridiculously close encounter, Stan Smyl bested linemate Curt Fraser by a single vote. Clearly, Smyl’s enduring legendary status in this town provided him with the momentum to get past the more dangerous Fraser.
3. In a battle of top defensemen, Harold Snepsts, easily out voted Ed Jovanovski. We applaude your discerning taste.
4. And in a match that should have never happened, Gino Odjick pretended Mattias Ohlund was the St. Louis Blues, with a most logical conclusion.
Thanks for playing. Round 2 featured a record number of votes; we can only hope you’ll hang around for Round 3 (starting Monday).
Mattias Ohlund- Arguably the greatest Canuck defensemen ever, Mattias was (and still is) one of the league’s best bodycheckers. Along with Harold Snepsts, Ohlund was one of the few Canuck defense draft picks that ended up being key contributors to the team. While certainly not a heavyweight, Ohlund would drop the gloves when required and not just when someone took exception to one of his punishing open ice hits. This little clip feature Mattias instigating a tilt with power forward Erik Cole and fairing quite well. In a surprising round one battle, Ohlund took out Cam Neely.
Gino Odjick- Easily one of the most popular players in Canuck history, the Algonquin Enforcer appeared on the Canuck landscape with a tremendous bang. And he never really let up. As Dave Semenko was to Wayne Gretzky, Odjick was the same to his little buddy, Pavel Bure. Off the ice, “Geeee Noooo” was a fun loving guy, but on the ice, he was often menacingly out-of-control and one of the legendary scrappers of his generation. There is no shortage of classic Gino clips out there, but this little nugget really clarifies his essence. In a result that was feared by Canuck traditionalists, Gino managed to barely out-vote the original Captain Canuck, Orland Kurtenbach, in Round One.
View and vote here:
Today’s Honourable Mention:
Robert Dirk - A key member of the early 90’s teams that morphed from cellar dwellers to division winners, Dirk was yet another Canuck who cried when he was traded away (and never played as well anywhere else). He was a tough dependable defensemen and was dealt simply because the Canucks had an abundance of d-men (can you imagine that?). Dirk wouldn’t have had much trouble moving Dustin Byfuglien…
Okay, we’ve milked this for long enough - we’re on to round two. Thanks for your participation. A quick recap of round one:
Trevor Linden defeated Rick Rypien in a mismatch. Clearly, the voters are putting more emphasis on a balanced definition of toughness as opposed to pure pugilism. We applaud your discriminating taste.
Stan Smyl took out the much larger Jack McIlhargey in a fairly lopsided pairing. After this battle, we envision Jack Mac wearing that neck brace he fashioned on one of the late 70’s hockey cards of our youth.
Harold Snepsts destroyed Tim Hunter in our most lopsided match. And no, we were not stuffing the ballot box in favour of our hero Harold. Really, an ex-Flame had no business being in this contest in the first place.
Mattias Ohlund narrowly edged out Cam Neely. This will have some eyes rolling but Mattias presumably gets credibility for his long career here. In fact, we will go as far to say that if Ohlund were not Swedish, he’d have been a bigger fan favourite here and just might have wound up with his number hanging from the rafters. Flame away.
Ron “Chief” Delorme took out “The Strangler”, Garth Butcher, in a close match (did we say how much we loved the old school nicknames?). We suspect ”Chief” (now the Canucks’ Chief Amateur Scout) won’t get much further. Especially, if we get too much further in our draft analysis before his next match.
Gino Odjick barely eclipsed the original “Captain Canuck”, Orland Kurtenbach, in another close one. We’re sure this will leave some of the 70’s natives (we mean you, kenikoop) more than a little restless. If anything, this proves that pure pugilism can win out, particularly against a faceless victim (sorry Kurt, but you’re too old for our sketchy memories).
Ed “Jovo Cop” Jovanovski dispensed with Dave “Tiger” Williams proving that you don’t need brain to overcome brawn. Perhaps just more brawn. Or less criminal convictions.
Curt Fraser in the tightest match-up brought down Donald Brashear. We’re surprised by this outcome, not because Fraser wasn’t fantastically tough, but because his prime was quite sometime ago and Brash was the heavyweight champ for so many years.
Today we present two fellows who were each undoubtedly tough, but in very different ways.
Gino Odjick- Easily one of the most popular players in Canuck history, the Algonquin Enforcer appeared on the Canuck landscape with a tremendous bang. And he never really let up. As Dave Semenko was to Wayne Gretzky, Odjick was the same to his little buddy, Pavel Bure. Off the ice, “Geeee Noooo” was a fun loving guy, but on the ice, he was often menacingly out-of-control and one of the legendary scrappers of his generation. There is no shortage of classic Gino clips out there, but this little nugget really clarifies his essence.
Orland Kurtenbach- The Original Captain Canuck, Kurtenbach was big for his time and noted for his defensive prowess. If you were to look at his penalty minute total, you’d think he wasn’t much of a scrapper. But his reputation and size spoke for itself and he was rarely challenged. Having been around the league for a number of years by the time he wound up in Vancouver, he gave the expansion Canucks instant credibility as far as toughness and leadership were concerned. We couldn’t find any Canuck era Big Kurt clips, but this little feature shows him jumping in to fight one of the dirtiest players ever, Wayne Cashman, defending the honour of star defenseman Brad Park.
Gerald Diduck- As a key member of the early 90’s Canuck squads, Diduck tantalized with the full compliment of skills - a strong skater with a hard accurate shot, a punishing hitter and a decent scrapper. Sadly, he never seemed to like playing in Canada all that much and was dealt away shortly after the magical ‘94 Cup run.
So says “Jan Bulis”. And can you blame him? Certainly not. But a poll with 100% of the respondents picking the same thing wouldn’t be too much fun.
Thanks for all your responses. Yesterday set a new high water mark for hits and visits at our blog proving once again that in Canuckistan we are seemingly happiest when wallowing in our own misery.
In the coming days and weeks we will investigate each of our “goats” in more detail. The fact that there are so many proves how badly this team came off the rails.
You will notice that we didn’t include in our list of goats the much talked about banged up defense. Frankly, if we hear another person rail on about that, we’re going to go Gino Odjick on them. Four years ago with Roberto Luongo at the peak of his powers, we fizzled out again in the second round because of an incredibly lame pop gun offense. The restless natives yearned for the days of the West Coast Express. This year we had the highest scoring team in the conference and a gold medal winning goalie and all the focus is on the defense. But here’s the deal. In the salary cap era, you cannot have it all. Unless by some miracle you get all-star performances from a couple of rookies or a cheap goalie gets hot for 8 weeks in May and June. That’s it. As it was, the Canucks were able to ice 5 of their top 6 defensemen. Missing Willie Mitchell sucked, but he’s just one guy. And a one dimensional guy at that. So much so that the Canucks had no interest in him for next year. He looked like a pylon last year against the Hawks - would this year have been any different? The defending champion Penguins made it to the Finals two years in a row with a below average defense and would have again this year had they not run into the aforementioned cheap goalie in the run of the decade.
Make no mistake, we are absolutely irate about the early exit, but we’d prefer what we saw this year as opposed to the rope-a-dope team of ‘06-07.