After first attending and then writing the article about the Canucks Summer Summit and watching the first inductee to the Ring of Honour, I got to thinking about who should be the other three to be added alongside Orland Kurtenbach.
This took awhile as I reflected back on the number of players I had watched from the time that the team had entered into the NHL.
There have been a number of players that had the criteria of popularity, statistics, community involvement and longevity, so with that in mind I did some further investigation.
This is going to be a very subjective threesome because it depends on what era you first started watching and there are already two that cannot be included since they have had their sweaters retired (Stan Smyl and Trevour Linden) and a third—Markus Naslund who will have his retired on December 11 of this year.
Pavel Bure (1991-98)—the Russian Rocket so adeptly nicknamed by long timed radio colour man Tom Larscheid, played with the Canucks for seven seasons.
The first game I saw him play was against the Winnipeg Jets in the old Pacific Coliseum.
I’ll never forget the end to end rush that he made as he stick-handled down the ice like a player propelled with jets as skates and lifted the crowd in unison out of their seats, as they collectively gasped at what they had observed.
Everyone from then on knew who Pavel Bure was—but the best was yet to come.
He came to the Canucks as the 113th player chosen in round six of the 1989 Entry Draft during a time when Russian players had to have played in at least two seasons (with a minimum of 11 games per season) for his elite-level European club, the Central Red Army.
But you can read all about how this all unraveled at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pavel_Bure.
Bure won the Calder Cup as the top rookie in the 1991-92 season and also won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy twice in 1999-00 and 2000-01 seasons when he scored 58 and 59 goals, respectively, while with the Florida Panthers.
It was during his tenure with the Canucks though, that he is remembered for the back-to-back 60 goal seasons. First in 1992-93 and then 93-94.
Bure was so instrumental during the 1993-94 campaign that the Canucks made that remarkable run to the Stanley Cup.
Who doesn’t remember the overtime goal against the Calgary Flames in Game 7 to win the series?
Then there was that sneaky tough side of him.
Just ask Shane Churla, who was the Dallas Stars enforcer at the time, as he was knocked out of the line-up by a vicious elbow to the jaw.
He was truly the most exciting player that ever wore a Canucks jersey and deserving of second place in the Ring of Honour.
Kirk McLean (1987- 98)—or Captain Kirk as he was dubbed, joined the ‘Nucks via a trade in the 1987-88 season that saw Greg Adams and a second round draft choice (Leif Rohlin) join him from the New Jersey Devils.
In return the Devils acquired Patrik Sundstrom and the Canucks second and fourth round entry draft picks in 1988.
He was the last of the stand-up style goaltenders as the majority had taken on what is now know as the butterfly style.
This maybe was one of the reasons that McLean’s stats were not impressive along with the fact that he shared his position with a variety of backups.
Only twice with the Canucks did he play more than 60 games in a season.
During the 11 seasons that McLean played goal he only had two seasons where his save percentage was over .900 and his goals against average was under three (three seasons).
Yet he somehow captured lightning in a bottle in the 1993-94 season as the Canucks made their march to the Stanley Cup final.
He will be forever known for that series-saving stop in overtime of Game 7 against the Calgary Flames and Robert Reichel, where he slid across the goal with pads stacked to thwart a sure goal.
During that same playoff run he recorded back to back shut-outs against the Leafs, and who will ever forget his 52 shot save performance against the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup.
That game went to overtime and McLean made 17 saves as the Canucks won, 3-2.
That display of goaltending turned out to be the second-most saves in a Stanley Cup Finals game.
Although the Canucks lost to the Rangers in Game 7. McLean’s playoff stats were very impressive, with a 2.29 GAA, .928 save percentage, and a 15-9 posting.
Captain Kirk surpassed the Philadelphia Flyers' Ron Hextall’s 1987 record of 1,540 minutes played with 1,544.
This has since been tied by Dallas Stars Ed Belfour in 1999 and subsequently topped by Calgary Flames' Miika Kiprusoff in 2004 (1,595 minutes).
McLean was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in 1997-98 but will forever be etched in the photograph with Trevor Linden as playoff warriors.
After retiring from the NHL in 2001 Kirk continues to live in the Vancouver area.
Candidate No. 3 for the Ring of Honour.
Cliff Ronning (1990 – 1995), was well known in the lower mainland long before he joined the Vancouver Canucks, having played with the WHL New Westminster Bruins.
Although a small player at 5’8”, 170 lbs., he was a darting, shifty player that was hard to hit and had those gifted soft hands.
In his WHL draft year (1983-84) he posted 136 points in 71 games which earned him the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy as the WHL rookie of the year.
Ronning was not chosen until the seventh round (134th overall) when St. Louis took him in the 1984 Entry Draft.
He returned to juniors the next season where he scored a phenomenal 197 points, which at that time established a new scoring record.
Cliff joined the Canucks for the 1990-91 season in the infamous seven player trade with St. Louis.
Along with Ronning, Sergio Momesso, Robert Dirk, Geoff Courtnall, and a fifth round draft pick came to Vancouver in exchange for Dan Quinn and Garth Butcher.
Not only was he a local boy from Burnaby, BC but was always a crowd favourite and actively involved in the community.
It was during 1992-93 when he reached his pinnacle in points amassing 26G and 56A in 79 games, along with 11 points in 12 playoff games.
The next season he was an instrumental contributor as the Canucks went to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Although small in stature, he was durable and tough; many people do not know that he played the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals with a broken hand.
He remained with the Canucks until 1995-96 when he joined the Phoenix Coyotes as a free agent.
After finishing his NHL career in 2003-04, Cliff continues to live in the lower mainland and in 2008 was inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame.
Another member for the Ring of Honour.