Toronto Star's Damian Cox took it to Twitter to voice his displeasure over the Vancouver Canucks choosing to retire Markus Naslund's jersey and the 50-minute pre-game ceremony, which was condensed to 30 minutes when aired on Hockey Night in Canada.
Cox tweeted the Canucks “[deserved the] loss after [having the] worst and longest pre-game ceremony ever,” called it a “nightmare,” pleaded “OMG please end,” and questioned the decision to retire the number.
He wondered why the Canucks would “[host] a ceremony like this for a guy that won absolutely nothing” and that “[Mats] Sundin at least got [the Toronto Maple] Leafs to a [couple] of Conference Finals,” but “where did Naslund ever lead the Canucks?”
If it was nightmare, you did not have to watch. The puck drop is at 7:30 p.m.
Naslund was the most decorated player in Vancouver Canucks history, which is why he got his number retired. He won the Lester B. Pearson award in 2002-03 as the league's most valuable player as voted by the players association.
In the same season, he was two goals and two points shy from winning the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the league's top goalscorer and the Art Ross Trophy as the league's top point-getter. A three-time First All-Star Team member and made five appearances in All-Star games.
Sundin on the other hand never came close to a Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy or an Art Ross Trophy. He never won an award at the league's annual awards show, other than a Mark Messier Leadership Award, which is chosen by Mark Messier by the way.
Naslund did not handicap the organization for years to come when it was time to move on. It was time for Mats Sundin at the 2008 NHL Trade Deadline.
Sundin refused to waive his no-trade clause when the Maple Leafs could have obtained multiple picks and prospects to rebuild.
Instead, he left via free agency to sign a one-year, $8.6 million contract with the Canucks, leaving the Leafs with nothing when they needed something.
Two-and-a-half years later, the Leafs continue to be at the basement of the league, while the Edmonton Oilers just one-year into their rebuilding have shown promise and look like they could be the Chicago Blackhawks of 2010 in two years time.
Naslund did something far more remarkable than leading a team to the conference finals; he led the team out of mediocrity and out of the basement of the National Hockey League. There was a time before Naslund's emergence that the team moving out of Vancouver was a distinct possibility.
There is nothing remarkable about Sundin being able to lead the team to the conference finals in the pre-lockout era, when teams could buy themselves playoff success. The Leafs had all the money in the world, while the Canucks could not. The conference final success was merely bought.
The Canucks could not spend the same amount of money the Leafs could, but still managed great regular seasons during Naslund’s time here. Unfortunately, the team did not have the money to buy themselves a goaltender for playoff success.