Now that the emotions have passed over with Markus Naslund’s No. 19 hanging high above the rafters at
Rogers Arena, it’s time to tie up a few loose ends.
Regardless of what I may have said last week, I never truly believed that Naslund’s number deserved the eternal treatment.
Neither does Stan Smyl’s, and the Canucks’ Ring of Honour is one of the most bizarre pieces of sports marketing to pop up in recent years.
For the Canucks’ 40th Anniversary Celebrations, the Canucks have, for whatever reason, wanted fans to dwell upon the team’s past — a past dragged through the mud met with a .403 winning percentage, no Stanley Cups, a series of playoff dissapointments, the abominable Flying V uniforms and an entire decade where, year after year, we saw our Western Canadian rival Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames compete for the Stanley Cup.
Instead, of course, of focusing on the present and a team where 60 percent of the players would be in contention for any ‘all-time’ team Canucks fans may want to put together.
Markus Naslund’s number hangs with Stan Smyl’s number for the same reason; because, at one point, they were the franchise scoring leaders. Smyl was usurped by Linden, and Naslund will be usurped by Henrik Sedin within three years. This means that, when Henrik Sedin retires, the Canucks will have to go through the charade of giving him opera tickets and having John Shorthouse stand at a microphone to see his number raised. Daniel will have to have his go up too on the same day.
And then that same year (possibly during the 50th anniversary celebrations), Ryan Kesler and Roberto Luongo will be ‘Ring of Honour’ inductees along with former “goods” Todd Bertuzzi, Mattias Ohlund, Brendan Morrison and just for the heck of it, Trent Klatt.
In fact, even Alexandre Burrows may be more worthwhile of honor than Orland Kurtenbach. When you get over the old-boys-club belief that Kurtenbach is some wise sage because he was the first captain in franchise history, you notice that Kurtenbach scored 62 goals over four seasons, and the Canucks never made the playoffs beneath him.
In seven Canuck eras that I’ve put together, Orland Kurtenbach was at the helm for the worst period in franchise history and is matched only by the Mark Messier era as a period of dwindling growth. The ‘Realignment’ era from 1975-1978 saw the first playoff appearances, the ‘Smyl’ era from 1979-1989 saw the first Cup Finals appearance, the ‘Linden’ era from 1990-1996 speaks for itself, as does the 1997-2000 ‘Messier’ era. The team has been on the rise from the ‘Naslund’ era from 2001-2006 and the ‘Luongo’ era from 2007-present.
Over his four years, Orland Kurtenbach saw the team fall from a .308 win percentage to a .288 win percentage. Factor in two seasons where he coached the team out of the playoffs, brush his mustache out of your mind and you’re left with a pretty mediocre leader.
The Vancouver Canucks, with this Ring of Honour and the Naslund celebration, celebrate mediocrity instead of focusing on the present, where the best team that this team has iced plays every second night, one of only two in franchise history who have won playoff rounds in consecutive years. There is nothing noble about dwelling on the past and pining for the good old days or buying one of those retro jerseys that don’t have numbers on the back.
This current team is good as it will ever be, and harking back to think of Kurtenbach, Boudrias, Smyl, Naslund or even Linden and Bure means that you pay less attention to the great players we have the chance to see every other night as Canuck fans in the present. Henrik and Daniel. Kesler. Luongo. Edler, Ehrhoff and Raymond (when he gets back) are all young players who may be top 10 in franchise history one day.
That’s going to be a lot of banners to raise. We’re going to need more thread.